Jodi and I aren’t freegans. We’re just poor. While we don’t sniff food out of dumpsters behind grocery stores (nothing wrong with doing so if that’s your jam), we’ve carried a bartering mentality with us since Prague, where we’d make contact with someone selling, trading, or giving something away then hop on the subway to waddle home with some over-sized jewel that added comfort and/or convenience to our home (I once inconsiderately shouldered a mini fridge onto a crowded tram and raised my cheerful „Nemluvím český“ defense when griped at). In San Francisco, I furnished my entire bedroom with curbside giveaways: bed, desk, chair, and lamp; and the place didn’t look like a grimy meth den either. It was classy as balls. Sure, I was thirty and sleeping like broken dreams on a hardwood floor before it all came together, but I wasn’t grossly consuming and it felt good.
One of the biggest hurdles is the social stigma of appearing poor
In Glenvale (which is a hamlet of Salisbury (which is a village in New Brunswick (which is a province of Canada (which is America’s hat)))), we’ve done the same only now we’re driving an hour or two in any direction for pickups. All inconvenience aside, and it is inconvenient, I’m pleased to have consistently reduced our amassment of new things for so long. One of the biggest hurdles to doing so is arguably the social stigma of appearing as if you’re not piling your shit together in an attractive enough mound. Looking poor in other words, which, if money is the core of achievement, directly reflects the competency of a successful human animal in his or her environment. Bootstraps, individualism, American Dream, etc. BUT, once the absurd fear of socioeconomic compartmentalization is vanquished . . . freedom.*
To that end, we’re freeganning together a large chicken coop for next year’s egg production. It consists of 26 precariously stacked pallets, a door, a screen door, and several large windows from a renovation ad I responded to online. All free. That’s not true. I paid $20 for the screen door, but wouldn’t the story have sounded wonderfully preachier had everything been scavenged? Anyway, the bones are all still reclaimed. We have, however, spent a king’s ransom on deck screws, a new reciprocating saw, and some decent 2×4’s which are hard to come by second-hand, let alone to specification. The late country star, Kenny Rogers, once wisely graveled, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,” meaning, recognize your capacities and work judiciously within their perimeters.** Waiting for the right materials to present themselves could have taken months, and though conscientious, I’m no chump . . . or full-blooded freegan as previously disclaimed. Still, a fancy new (and structurally sound) coop and run for 6 chickens would be around 1,000 dollars, unassembled. Ours will hold 40 with leg room, and I get to humble brag about its construction on Instagram. Win/Win. #chickendeathtrap.
We’ll be following the same low-impact model for an oxymoronic, naturally artificial rabbit warren to house a buck and two does . . . eventually. On principle alone, I should be able to cull both meat bird and bunny while maintaining dignity and minimal post-traumatic stress, but Jodi and I are city cupcakes so we’ll see how it goes.
Glenvale, New Brunswick
*To any grammarians reading this, I’m fully aware of the near equal shame of beginning an independent clause with a coordinating conjunction. Get over it.
**Kenny Rogers isn’t dead . . . but it’s only August. #fakenews #longlivethegambler