Thursday, April 8, 2010

Handy Containers

Consider the common five gallon plastic bucket. There was a day when these handy bulk containers were not so common, and a day not so long ago when they didn't even exist. It is hard to imagine how we survived without them. How did we store and transport such varied commodities as paint, engine coolant, mayonaise, ice cream, canned fruit, driveway sealer, lime putty, log house chinking compound, stucco, deep fryer grease and liquid laundry detergent? And more importantly how did they build dry stone walls without them? Did they collect and carry the small stones needed for 'hearting' in sheep skins perhaps, or wooden buckets? Did they use burlap sacks or old canvas bags?

These buckets are absolutely 'indispensable', which is funny because you see people dispensing of them everywhere you go. The dumps are full of them. Stacks of empty buckets can be found behind every commercial establishment from small restaurants to big industrial complexes, all of them just waiting to be picked up for garbage. For us humble dry stone wallers the backs of these buildings are prosperous hunting grounds for the treasured 'hearting holders'. Clean buckets are the best, but we even go with ones still containing sticky residue resins or half-dried stucco. Presumably it should all mix together with the broken stone fragments to help everything 'tighten up', and hey, any extra dry wall compound should be perfect, right?

Above is a photo of some buckets being used for hearting in the Lake District. You might say these buckets were previously loved. Zin Tec produced and stored their feed supplements for cows, beef, sheep, lambs, horses and ponies in them. The buckets now have been given a second life by the farmers who have been re-building the wall in the background. Instead of heading straight for the dump the feed buckets have been salvaged. Its nice to know in the dry stone walling business not only all the stones are saved and reused in repairing gaps and building new walls, but even the handy containers we use are all recycled buckets.

Oh, there is another way of 'reusing' these plastic buckets to make walls. You will need a whole lot more of them however, and the final look, well it might not be quite as attractive.

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