Carl the Junker and the Land of Reclaimed Materials

I must begin by apologizing for my tardiness.  In my last post, I told you that my husband, Stuart, wanted me to talk about construction.  I wrote the floor plan and construction articles simultaneously and got his approval for the floor plan article, which I published last time.  He then asked me to give him the construction portion so that he could edit it (of the two of us, he’s the construction expert, hands down).  Apparently, he is still editing it because I have yet to see it again.  While we wait patiently for that, let me tell you about a man I mentioned in a previous post that I promised to discuss more at a later time.

Our search for reclaimed barn wood and other materials led us, ultimately, to Carl the Junker.  It is said that in the business world, it’s not what you know, but who you know.  The same can be said in the country.  In this slow paced – yet hard working – environment, deals are still settled over a cup of coffee and a handshake and church is where many of your important contacts are made.  Last summer, Stuart began asking his new friends where he might be able to find some old barn wood and other used building materials.  Tommy Smith, our heavy equipment friend, told us that he had recently been having breakfast with a friend from church named Carl who had all sorts of salvaged materials.  Tommy gave us his contact information and Stuart called Carl to set up an appointment to look at his inventory.

Our oldest daughter, Ellen, happened to be in town and spending some time with us on the day of the appointment.  Carl’s directions to his property were a bit vague:  there were no street names, it was something like turn on the right just past the little river, go up the hill and take the second gravel drive on the right.  Hoping that we were in the correct place (some people don’t appreciate uninvited visitors!), we looked for signs that someone was expecting us.  A quick look around gave us an interesting first impression.  There were lots of animals wandering around loose – a turkey, a couple of horses and several dogs.  There was a trailer home with a few additions and modifications as well as a camper that both appeared to be occupied and lots of junk everywhere!  Carefully, we got out of the car and walked closer towards a parked truck.  Suddenly, two of the dogs came running towards us barking and sniffing.  The larger one reminded me a bit of the three headed dog, Fluffy, from the first Harry Potter movie.  Shortly, a smiling older man in a pair of overalls emerged and said, “don’t worry none about them dogs, they just want you to pet ’em.”  They really were harmless, so we moved forward with our tour.

Carl and my Stuart walked through the piles of junk and garbage more quickly than Ellen and I did.  She and I were easily distracted by the additional animals we saw in various makeshift pens and the other outbuildings piled high with all sorts of discarded items.  At one point, Ellen leaned over to me and whispered, “and the Monohans were never heard from again!”  It definitely felt like uncharted territory.  Once past the buildings, there was an open field area with some semi-organized piles of reclaimed materials.  Carl knew what was in each pile and explained from where he had salvaged them.  Apparently, if you had a building that you wanted torn down, Carl was your guy.  He’d take it down , keep the pieces and parts and sell them when he could find a buyer.  “I’m a junker,”  he exclaimed.  “I always have been.”  We examined the piles and found several things we wanted:  some barn wood to use as the wall covering in one of the bedrooms, the weathered and rusted corrugated metal that would become the walls in the laundry room and the firewood storage shed, and two barn doors, one of which is now a closet door in the barn wood clad bedroom.  Since the wood for the walls is not exactly straight and square, we puzzled over what to put behind them to camouflage the gaps.  Our good friend, Tim, came up with a cheap, quick and easy solution:  over the studs and insulation, we stapled black landscape cloth to all of the walls.  cabin design, rustic, cabin, reclaimed, barn wood, barn doorAfter the wood was installed, the black behind it literally disappears.  We have since made several trips back to Carl’s land of reclaimed materials for additional supplies.  Carl the Junker is a quirky and kind, God fearing, good ole country boy.


That construction post is coming, stay tuned!