I’m an inveterate list maker. Even as a kid I had a written catalogue of all my Halloween candy and would carefully amend the numbers as I munched through my stash. I’m also an avid freecycler – giving or finding unwanted, but still useable stuff for free. This post is a mashup of those two pursuits, although this year has taken a bit of a hit, in part, due to Covid. If you’ve followed my year-end freecycle posts you may be disappointed this go round. There are no sweet scores like a microscope complete with supplies to do fecal float testing, car canopy shelters or chicken collectibles.
In 2017, I was given a structure that my friend Tracy and I converted into a chicken coop and even before we were done I was gifted a whole flock of 12 hens, a rooster and their 22 chicks. Since then I’ve learned to restrain myself and not jump at the chance to adopt every free chicken on offer, in part, due to biosecurity concerns as well as space. Nothing like adding a few unwanted roommates to upset the good order of flock dynamics.
I did, however, get a new rooster. I hatched Simon here four years ago and sadly he died last winter. Tarek has been a good replacement and I was happy to save him from the soup pot. I was a bit nervous getting a new boy in light of the horror stories about aggressive roosters, but he’s turned out to be good with me and the hens and isn’t an excessive crower. He’s also fathered some cool looking chicks.
I’ve received some interesting non-chicken related items including artwork, an office chair, veggie starts, toiletries, a box of 95 light bulbs and even a Christmas turkey from someone who was mistakenly sent an extra with their grocery store delivery.
I’ll confine this list to the stuff I can use for my birds:
- 57 bags wood shavings
- 21 buckets wood ashes (dustbath)
- 10 bags shredded paper (bedding for transport crates)
- 5 wheeled, lockable plastic bins (feed storage)
- 4 plastic feeders, 1 glass waterer, heat lamp/bulb, water nipples, gate latch
- Piles of egg cartons and dried egg shells (which I feed back to my flock for calcium)
- Dustpan and broom
- Box of garbage bags
- Bag of CDs (hung up to deter aerial predators)
- Not for my birds, but for me: 4 cloth face masks (with chicken pattern)
The big score is food. I’m a volunteer with our local food recovery program, picking up unsold produce from the local grocery store several times a week. My friend Thomas and I sort the donations into animal food, people food and compost.
The stuff still useable for people is packed into boxes on his front porch and anyone can come help themselves. He keeps the compostables and we split the animal food (which I often share with other chicken keepers). I occasionally take home some perfectly edible produce: bags of onions, carrots or limes; lettuce and kale; bunches of mint, cilantro and green onions; oyster and button mushrooms.
I’ve also managed to snag recently expired pet food from my veterinarian or new stuff from folks with fussy dogs or cats who won’t eat the latest on offer.
- 232 boxes fruits and veggies
- 104 veggie burgers/hotdogs and falafels
- 35 cans and 7 bags pet food
- 28 packages tofu
- 26 containers of yoghurt, cottage cheese, kefir (calcium)
- 1½ bags chicken feed, ½ bag of chick starter, ½ bag oyster shells
- 1 bucket corn
The reality is this year I haven’t had any pressing projects that would require me to source materials (i.e. salvaged wood, hardware, doors, window or fencing). I’ve managed to turn down offers of free birds and I haven’t always had the energy to hunt for stuff. The pursuit of freebies may not cost anything, but it does take time. You have to check the online giveaway posts or compose your own wanted ads. Then you have to communicate with folks and pick things up in a timely manner. Sometimes I’ve just missed a good find.
If you are in need of anything I highly recommend finding ways to get it for free before shopping it new. I’ve been amazed what people are willing to give away without any expectations of something in return. I appreciate their generosity and feel like we’re all working together to keep useable things from ending up in the landfill. Freecycling isn’t just about saving money, it’s about the recognition that consumer waste is choking the planet. Most of us don’t need everything we have and there’s a great feeling of satisfaction about passing it on to someone else who does.
For some tips on freecycling check out this post.
It may sound trite, but sometimes the best gifts in life aren’t ‘things’. One of the my highlights of the past year has been being mentored by Dr Vicki Bowes, Avian Vet/Pathologist. Last summer she kindly accepted my request to be interviewed for my blog, which turned into six hours stretched over two days. When I left I asked if I could send her some necropsy photos for her opinion on diagnoses. She suggested that a more effective learning opportunity for me would be if we sat down together. We’ve now gone through several dozen cases over ten hours at her laptop. I’m so appreciative that she saw in Bitchin’ Chickens my desire to present science-based information and that she was willing to lend her expertise to support me.