Free stuff can have a heavy price

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THIS week, we have had a windfall. No, no, no – before you grab pen and paper and start writing that begging letter to the mad chicken lay-dee at the paper – not that kind of windfall!

Not a windfall in the sense of ‘I’ve won the Lottery, I’m rich! Rich! Rich! Go away, you poor folk’, but comparable to that in terms of chook-keeping.

My friend Yvette – no, for folk of a certain age who remember ‘Allo, ‘Allo, not that Yvette (‘Oh, Renee!’, ‘Oh, Yvette!’, ‘Oh, Renee!’, ‘Oh, Yvette!’). Altogether now, as ‘Allo’s Michelle Dubois used to say: “Lee-sen very cairfulee, I vill say zis oni wance.”

In fact, my friend Yvette had to ‘say zis mair’n wance’. In fact, I think she actually asked me about three times if I would like to bag up and take away years and years’ worth of sawdust from the shed where she saws up logs. And where her dad used to saw up logs, that’s how many years’ worth. Many.

Vintage sawdust is A Good Thing. New sawdust is so dusty you and the chooks will be coughing, which is A Bad Thing, especially for the chooks.

We usually use wood shavings rather than sawdust, as dust from sawdust can cause respiratory problems in your hens. But Yvette’s vintage sawdust is fab, as most of the dust seems to have blown away in her open-fronted, log-sawing shed over the years.

So one afternoon we went over for a couple of hours with the pick-up, a dozen empty feed sacks, some string, a penknife and a large shovel. Sorted.

A coffee and a full, erm, whatever you call a boot on a pick-up – a boot? A back? A pick? A bed? – later we were done. Thank you very much, Yvette. You can’t beat free stuff. As long as it’s useful free stuff.

Un-useful free stuff can be a burden, especially for those with a bit of a hoarding tendency like me (see, I admitted it, so it can’t be that bad, can it? Did you ever see a telly programme about a man who was so afflicted he had collected so many newpapers and magazines that he had almost filled his house with them and had to slide from room to room through tiny person-sized gaps at head height, like some kind of burrowing animal? That’s not me. Yet.

You think: “It was free, so even if I don’t like it/need it right now, I am going to hang on to it... just in case it comes in handy”. If you are given something free, and this thought passes through your brain, get rid of the object. It probably won’t ‘come in handy’. Or you’ll clutter up your house/garage/shed with it for years and years and then finally your husband/partner/child/friend will chuck it out. And the week later you will have need of it and it will be waaaay too late.

Do not put yourself through this. Do not go there. Just recall that image of the newspaper snake man, slithering from his kitchen to his loo, and walk straight to your bin and drop it in. Something the newspaper snake man hasn’t been able to do for years.