Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to Get Free Manual Labor

We've had a few trees removed since we purchased this home three years ago: the giant spruce that shaded out the whole backyard and prevented any grass from growing, and last fall two large aspens that were half dead from bores. It made me sad as I am a big lover of all trees. I am practically my family's version of The Lorax, y'all. In fact, knowing that we'll have to get rid of a couple more old aspens in the next few years gives me the urge to pelt people with marshmallows, so it's a story for another day...'s story is about us being cheap and the mess that trees make.

So, having trees removed costs money. Especially when they are eleventy thousand feet high (or a realistic approximation thereof) and near your home. We saved a couple hundred dollars each time by opting to pick up the mess ourselves rather than have the tree removal guys drive out their giant wood chipper. And we had the best intentions as we have a fireplace downstairs and a fire bowl thing for summertime backyard fires -- easy peasy! Haul it over to the side of the house, let it dry out, chop it up, and voilà.

(about half of the mess)

Fast forward to the date we realized we were never, ever, going to reach the voilà moment. Our basement fireplace doesn't draw well and we rarely spend time downstairs, and we have only a handful of backyard fires each year. Cue the "wop, wop, wop."

So now I was stuck with massive piles of wood on the side of my house -- and this was a problem because I have plans for this space. Plans that don't involve logs.

Well, as it turns out, a listing for "free wood" on craigslist is like catnip to lots of people. It's like me finding a listing for "free all-expense paid shopping trip in NYC with never ending supply of calorie-free maple bars and ripple-chested cabana boy named Paolo to carry your bags." What I'm trying to say is it's good.

Within a few hours we had a multitude of emails from people begging to come to my house and carry hundreds of pounds of unsplit firewood, that was only "cut to length" in the loosest sense, off my lot. It didn't even matter that they couldn't back a trailer up to the fence and had to haul it across my front yard to the street. They wanted to do it! 

Moral of the story: Before you clean up a giant mess, take a moment to ponder whether one man's trash may be another man's treasure. People will work for treasure!

What are you doing over this Labor Day weekend? 
'Cause we're renting a jackhammer.


  1. Our Labour Day weekend is also filled with Labour. Our Contractors will be finished their drywall work tomorrow. so we have to paint ceiling, walls and floor (with oil based yuck!).

  2. Oh yes, we have gotten free wood on craigslist! We heat our home all winter with our woodstove. Not exclusively, but a LOT. We go through several cords a winter and have yet to buy any thanks to the free stuff. It's a lot of labor but it sure saves money! So glad you thought of this.

    1. That's amazing... you really haven't had to buy any at all? Craigslist is awesome. :)

  3. Lol -- this story is great! How awesome! :-) I hope you have a wonderful long weekend.

  4. I love freecycle and Craigslist. I once posted a bunch of daylilies and rocks (red lava ickiness) I wanted to get rid of, people came and dug them up. It was crazy.

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