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Repurpose. It’s one of my new favorite words.

Just the idea of taking something that is old, broken, discarded or ignored and with a little work and some imagination, turning it into something else. Something different. Something new and useful.

Repurposing is something that many of us do all of the time without even thinking about it. Torn shirts become treasured quilts, a broken bed frame is turned into a fancy new sign for your business, a tin can is decorated by a child and used to hold the pens on your desk, a cracked teapot becomes a quaint home for a potted plant and a pile of unmatched colorful socks are knotted into that beautiful rug that welcomes you home from work each day at your front door.

Repurposing is simply taking an object and using it for something other than that which it was intended for. The item may be modified or simply used in a different way. Repurposing takes creativity, imagination and a playful attitude. Often, when we find a new use for something, we save money by not having to purchase the needed item brand new. We might choose to give it away as a unique one-of-a-kind gift or even sell it and make a little extra cash. For some excellent ideas and inspiration for repurposing projects, check out www.myrepurposedlife.net/ and http://blueroofcabin.blogspot.com. Then poke around in your garage and basement and hit a few garage sales or thrift stores for something to work with. Don’t forget to share your ideas or favorite repurposing blogs with me so that we can learn from each other!

One of my current repurposing projects involves turning the lumber from my old barn into a new chicken coop. Here is a picture of the old barn:

(By the way, that concrete pad to the right of the barn was a total surprise. A month ago it was entirely covered with a muck and wild plants. After stubbing my toe on something hard near the barn, I discovered a piece of concrete. H and I spent an entire afternoon scraping and shoveling and marveling at the treasure we were finding. First of all, it turned out that the muck was a pile of rich and perfectly aged horse manure. We moved many wheel barrels full of the precious poo to the garden to be lovingly dug into the soil. Then we uncovered this large 17×12′ concrete pad complete with fire pit. Amazing!)

H and I began dismantling the barn over the last three weekends. As H dismantled and piled up the old lumber, I removed as many of the nails as I could and sorted the pieces into what was still useful (to be repurposed) and what was too wet and rotten to use.


We worked at this for most of Saturday and my bucket became full of rusty nails. Someone once told me to bury rusty nails under my spruce trees and they will turn a deeper shade of blue. Has anyone tried this? If so, perhaps I can repurpose my nails as well.

I piled the useful lumber near the spot where the chicken coop will be. I will use it to frame the coop floor, walls and roof. I can’t wait to get started! H is designing a Japanese Teahouse and we will start building it next weekend on the concrete foundation where the barn used to be. It will be a slow project as he is only here on weekends but we plan on taking our time and enjoying the process. Meanwhile, I will use the repurposed lumber to build the chicken coop as a miniature version of the larger Teahouse. Eventually there will be a Japanese themed garden connecting the two Teahouses.

So, instead of being carted to the landfill, my old barn lumber is being repurposed into a new chicken coop. A very useful repurposing project! The coop will house and protect my future chickens and the chickens will provide rich manure and insect control for my organic garden as well as delicious organic eggs. By repurposing the lumber, I am saving money on building supplies and any money I make selling eggs will help pay for the chicken feed.

I’ll keep you all informed on our progress. In the meantime, take care and let me know how your own repurposing projects and ideas are going.

cabinorganic… it’s a lifestyle