Prisoners of the House


*** An account of what we did this weekend…

We are stuck with houses, dear reader. Chained to them…forced to take care of them… we are their prisoner.

So we asked our gardener, Damien, to come on the weekend so we could work together. There were trees to cut…wood to split and stack…trees to trim…debris to burn…and weeds to pull.

Damien is the best worker we’ve ever seen. He gets up early…he gets onto the job…and he doesn’t stop.

At 7:30AM we were still having our coffee and a croissant, but out the window we saw Damien. He’d already gotten out the tractor and was loading up the firewood cut the previous day.

It was a wet day. A drizzle came down…making the logs slippery and hard to handle. We picked up only the light wood…we’d come back later with the log splitter for the heavy pieces. After several trips, we had loaded up all the wood we could pick up. Then, we attached the log splitter.

What a marvelous device! Rural people all over the world must have welcomed the hydraulic log-splitter like a rich uncle. If Abe Lincoln had had such a thing, he probably would have stayed in Kentucky…and spared the nation a disastrous war. It makes splitting wood so much faster and easier than doing it with axes, hammers and wedges. You just set up the logs…and the hydraulic-driven wedge comes down and splits it. The hard work for us was maneuvering the huge logs onto the splitter. Many of them were so heavy, it took both of us to get them in place.

After a few hours, your editor was beginning to get tired. Damien never takes a break. Not even to talk. He just grabs a cigarette and smokes as he works. We stopped for a quick lunch…and then right back on the job.

By the evening, your editor was beginning to move more slowly. He was keeping up…but barely. All that bending and lifting – he wasn’t used to it.

We had ricked up a huge pile of branches, about the size of the Great Pyramid of Cheops in the center of the park. Damien had parked the wagon with a can of gasoline and some old newspapers off to the side.

“Aren’t you afraid that the wagon is too close to the fire,” we asked him.


He then took the tractor and, using the front forks, raised up a side of the pile as if peeking under a woman’s skirt. With the pile lifted up, he put under it a rubber tire, filled it partially with gasoline, and set it aflame. The flames shot up as Damien raced to the tractor to move it out of the way. Within a few minutes, the whole pile was blazing hot.

It was about 8 in the evening. We continued throwing branches onto the fire and enjoying the heat. We hadn’t noticed that the sparks were being carried by the wind over to where the wagon sat. One of them must have fallen onto a little gasoline. All of a sudden, we saw the wagon blaze up.

“Don’t worry about it…it will go out,” said Damien. He was right. The old wooden wagon had been soaked by the slow rain. The gasoline burned off quickly…and the fire went out.

Until tomorrow,

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
Bill Bonner

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  1. Ah Bill Not engaging in Waste Not Wants Not.

    Burning branches. Mulch them and use around garden beds to retain moisture and improve soil as they decompose increasing NPK, locking carbon from the atmosphere and increasing the micro biology of your immediate eco system.
    Burning a rubber tire, pollution to the atmosphere. These are ground up these days and added to building materials to improve the durability of roads for example.
    Using valuable gasoline to light a fire, there will be some one somewhere down to their last gallon who needs it and their life might depend on it.

    You would have used the gasoline in the mulcher instead of attempting to destroy your wagon. Sounds like an expensive weekend that could have been even more so if not for luck.

    A good investment may be an occupational health and safety course and a sustainable gardening/Permaculture course for gardener Damien. Both will give a good return on capital.

    Lets not preach that others are to blame for economic collapses when we ourselves engage in unsustainable practice in the things we do.

    Obviously the wealthy and privileged need to lead from the front by learning new ways.

    The log splitter is a great invention but unfortunately the time it saves tends to be frittered away and can lull many into an abyss of laziness and over consumption.

    Ivor Evans Melbourne Australia.

    Ivor Evans
    March 13, 2009

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