Tim Engbrecht 's Profile
Tim Engbrecht
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Joined:
12/07/2014
Last Updated:
27/07/2014
Location:
Kelwood, Canada
Climate Zone:
Cold Temperate
Gender:
Male





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Parkland Permaculture

Parkland Permaculture

Kelwood, CA


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Fountain Family Pharm: A Permaculture Orchard in the Northern Boreal Forest The Ness Creek Forest Garden
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Making your own Tree Stakes pays $75/hour?

Posted by Tim Engbrecht 10 days ago

Like many in the Permaculture movement, I have found myself trading money for time in my new rural lifestyle.  When my wife and I left our high paying, white-collar city jobs to move to the country, we discovered myriad ways to stretch our dollars: Making all of our own bread & yoghurt, spending less on eating out, getting better about turning out lights,  mending clothes, using our own honey instead of sugar, brewing our own beer, wearing a sweater instead of turning up the thermostat, etc., etc., etc…

As part of this new, efficient (and frugal) lifestyle, I began to appreciate the CUMULATIVE effect of all of these individual choices.  It is sometimes difficult to notice or CARE about what seem to be trivial little decisions that “don’t make that big a difference”—but when I tally all of the savings from even a modest number of these lifestyle changes, I arrive at many, MANY thousands of dollars PER YEAR.

Of course, many of these savings require that I have sufficient TIME to realize them. Some might say that it is all fine and good if I save $1500.00/year by making my own YOGHURT, but THEY don’t have the extra 3 hours/month it takes me… or it’s fine that I can save in the neighbourhood of $1000.00/year by making my own bread, but THEY don’t have the 2 hours/month I likely put into THAT pursuit (first question: how much time do they spend watching television?)

I’ve gotten a kick out of figuring out how much I can “pay myself” in savings with these new homesteading economics.  So for example, in the cases of yoghurt and bread, I save a little over $40.00/hour when I’m engaged in yoghurt or bread-making.  Granted, “money saved” isn’t always identical to “money in your pocket”—but sometimes it is pretty close!

So last weekend I was enjoying some winter work, pruning the feral lilac bushes that are constantly encroaching on my septic field. It probably took me half-an-hour with pruning shears and a hand-saw to re-establish a ‘mowable edge’ to the lilac hedge, after which I had several large piles of branches to contend with.  I don’t have a wood chipper to render this material into high-carbon mulch, and I wasn’t keen to just BURN it the way many folks do, since I recognized the material to be a RESOURCE that I didn’t want to simply squander.

Looking a little more closely at the pile of prunings, I realized that with a small amount of work, I could nip off the smaller branches and use the boughs and trunks as tree stakes, since every year I put in several hundred trees that require staking. It took me about an hour with an axe to salvage nearly 100 stakes out of the pile, while my 8-year-old son simultaneously reduced the smaller twigs and branches to a pile of usable mulch that fit into a wheelbarrow—using only a pair of pruning shears.  We talked while we worked and enjoyed the sunshine.

I speed-dried the stakes in my solar kiln, which already had 500 board-feet of lumber in it, but which still had plenty of room on top of the stack for 100 stakes.


A quick look online reveals that even the cheapest tree stakes typically run in the neighbourhood of $1.00/stake…which means that my half-hour of pruning (which had to be done anyway)—plus my hour of visiting in the sunshine with my son while shaping the stakes—saved me $75.00/hour! (If I paid my 8-year-old $25.00/hour, that still nets a handsome $50.00/hour for myself!)

…and that’s not even counting that I don’t have to find and transport stakes from elsewhere, I didn’t pollute the atmosphere with the waste CO2 from burning my pruning-pile, there’s no extra packaging ending up in the trash, and I felt great about spending productive time outdoors!

Plus, when it comes right down to it, I feel that my gnarly recycled lilac stakes look a lot cooler than anything I can purchase, and we all get a sense of pride every time we look at them.

What other hidden opportunities might there be to “pay ourselves” for living a lifestyle that simultaneously nourishes our bodies, minds AND the Earth?

-Tim

Tree stakes from pruning debris Free stakes from pruning debris Dried lilac stake 2 Mulch from pruning debris

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Type: Online Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Australia
Date: Jan 2014
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Date: Jan 1992
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Bachelor of Education
Type: Teacher Training
Teacher:
Location: University of Manitoba
Date: Jan 1996
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Tim Engbrecht has permaculture experience in:
Cold Temperate

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