Monday, January 24, 2011

Stop, look, and glean!

Do you all know the story of the ant and the grasshopper?

Over this summer, I have achieved true anthood in preparing for winter.  We've paid for our share of firewood in the past, but this stack is pretty much all my own sweat and splinters, from other people's unwanted cut trees. 

Gleaning originated with the collection of leftover grains after the main harvest, but gleaning is now used whenever someone collects unwanted leftovers (anonymously left and gathered).

As the economy continues to worsen, gleaning will be less of a marginal activity and more of a necessity.

Seize gleaning opportunities when they are there and not just when it is convenient.  If it's something you want, it might be gone by the time you return.  I've arrived exhausted from a hot morning out in the car with a napping baby, parked in the garage, and gone straight out to grab armloads of rough wood left out by a neighbour.  In between errands, I've involved the kids as a team to load wood into the back of our small sedan - which they loved.  It all adds up.

Minimalist Gleaning
Gleaning can easily become hoarding.  Focus on what you know you can use, not what might be useful someday and you'll think of it in a minute.  That's the same rule as when you are paying for something - because you will spend time, effort, and storage for whatever you've taken.  Remember about the pitfalls of free stuff.

What makes collecting firewood from grass verges worth it for me?
  • Free
  • I can do it in small batches (buying firewood means one huge lot of wood handling all at once)
  • It's good exercise
  • The kids enjoy being involved in this real-life activity
So this winter, we'll all enjoy a warm feeling!

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