Incorporating the Simple Living Review, the Preparedness & Self-Reliance Review, as well as the Outdoor & Survival Review

The Art of Making Do

What, exactly is meant by “making do”?

It is the ability to create and make something out of limited resources. Ask any old timer that went thru through the Depression in the 1930's, or someone who has grown up in an impoverished area like the Southern Appalachians or Ozarks. That's what the Foxfire Books and other are all about.

For those of us who call ourselves Homesteaders, it should become a way of life. Too many, it seem, fail to recognize the benefits of such a lifestyle.

You want to build a house but the cost of materials are way out of reach? People have made houses out of railroad ties, old telephone and power poles, cord wood, recycled lumber, old schoolhouses, adobe, and much more. They have nice snug homes that have only cost a fraction of carpenter-built ones.

Making Do covers every area of your life; food, clothing, housing, transportation. Many times my wife and have had to make do because that was the only way we had in order to make it through a particular situation, and we were very glad that we had the necessary skills to do it.

How about some examples?

My wife has gotten fabric from yard sales, thread, boxes of buttons, etc. Most motels are willing to sell old bed linens. Get to know the head of the laundry and ask. My wife has used a lot of old sheets to make clothes out of. Some of them are good enough to go on your own bed.

Yard sales, secondhand stores, and farm auctions are good places to pick up furniture and appliances. Just know what your top dollar will be and don't get beyond it? People can get crazy at farm auctions and will pay ridiculous prices for junk.

The last auction I went to I bought a box of stuff for $6; it seemed nobody wanted it. In the box was an unopened can of water seal which sells for at least twice what I paid for the whole box.
There was also three cans of lye which were sold for $6 - $7 a bottle (these were the 18oz, not the 13oz) before it was outlawed. Also there were several boxes of old-fashioned starch. There also was some home-made soap, three bottles of bluing (which my wife uses), three cans of Sterno fuel; in all about $50 to $60 worth of stuff. We have so far made three batches of soap with the lye and have enough for a fourth batch. That, by the way, is added value.

We have a practically new push mower that a neighbor sold to us for $20 because he had no use for it. He was cleaning out a garage for an individual and they told him to take it.

which brings me to another aspect of making do, Dumpster Diving and salvaging. I have known several people other than myself that see salvaging as a viable way to get things.
The have gotten chainsaws, power mowers, weed whackers and lots of other stuff. All in decent shape. Maybe all it wanted as a spark plug replaced or some tinkering.

In our area, the towns will have a clean up day. Pile stuff at the curb and it will be hauled away. My wife could always embarrass me on this one. If I had a pick-up following along behind her, believe me, she could fill it.

With food, you will probably need a truck. It is amazing what is thrown away by processors. Go to a custom butcher that is not government inspected. Many times, more than you might think, people don't want the tongues, hearts, livers or other parts of an animal. Soup bones are many times thrown away. If you can trade some work like I did sharpening their knives, they will probably give you what the people bringing in the animal do not want.
I have gotten sausages, hamburgers, smoked sausage; enough deer neck to can up 50qts of deer meat.

If you live in an areas that grows a lot of vegetables for a canning company, see if you can glean the fields. We have gotten potatoes, sweet corn, sweet peas that way.
If you are in an area where they raise a lot of chickens for butcher, when they load them out onto the truck they leave a lot behind that are not big enough. They can normally be gotten for little or nothing. It saves the farmer the expense opf having to destroy them and dispose of them.

I could go on and on but I hope that I have given you, the readers, some ideas that you can use. Look around you and see what you can come up with.
Write to me at:
Big Ox Enterprises
P.O. Box 112
Old Appleton, MO 63770
I would be interested to hear what you have come up with.

© Owen Newman, 2007

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