Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The "Bone Yard"

I like to go to my parents home to see how I might be able to help them around the house and yard.  They live in a 50 year old home and have a fairly large yard to maintain.  Typically, there are some chores that need to be done and something that may require minor repair.  Behind the house is a small workshop where my dad works on his various projects.

My parents had their home built and have lived in it all of these years.  During that time, my dad has accumulated a stock pile of odd-and-end pieces of material that just might come in handy some day.  Besides all of the wood material stored in the rafters of the workshop, or those that bulge from the shelves and from behind most every stationary tool in the place, there is a pile out in the yard, near the back fence, that is special.

This is the "bone yard"!  It has a little bit of just about anything you can imagine.  Over the years, as I have worked with him on fixing things, it seems that we always need some part to replace what is broken.  I used to automatically think that we will have to run to the hardware store, but I have learned better.  Whether it is a piece of wire, conduit, screen, sheet metal, drip flashing, hinge, latch, piece of pipe (of just about any diameter, lead or plastic), elbow, joint, "T", junction box, piece of steel, etc.; that we need, he always suggests that we first check the "bone yard".  Over and over again, to my amazement, we will go out to that pile of junk and after scavenging around for a few minutes, we find either exactly what we are looking for or something else that we can "make work".  It may take some elbow grease with a wire brush before we can use that old, lead elbow, but we eventually have just what we wanted. 

Most of the stuff in that pile, most of us would have thrown away years ago.  But not him!  He keeps teaching me how some old piece of junk, saved for 20 years, will save me a buck and a trip to the store.  But, it is more than the dollar saved, it is a lesson in being thrifty and using imagination.  Every time we walk away from that pile with something in our hands, there is a smile on our faces and a sense of satisfaction - even victory, as we have just conquered a problem without spending a cent.  I think that to him, it is a personal challenge to fix things without leaving the back yard.  He also enjoys the look on my face as we pull out of the dirt just what we went to find.

Some of the lessons have begun to catch-on, over the years.  Now, in each corner of my garage I have an assortment of various items (junk to most eyes).  I have shelves and an old dresser full of the miscellaneous things that I just might "need" some day.  In the crawl space, under my home, is my lumber "bone yard".  I have lived in this house for almost five years since having it built and am still using the left-overs from construction for my projects.

I just hope that some day I graduate to a level where my "bone yard" is anywhere close to my dad's.  I will be using it to teach my kids and grandkids some familiar lessons on life. 


  1. Good article. I grew up with neighbors and relatives that had boneyards of various sizes and keep a small one myself. However, I would strongly recommend against storing anything in your crawl space - especially wood and paper. You will attract an infestation problem (bugs).

  2. Is the dresser you're refering to that old white one? You have always accumulated things in there and it used to be exciting to go look through it. Maybe someday we'll live closer and you can teach me and the boys how to be handy! I really, really want and need to learn that stuff!