This story not only starts without any beginning, I am also quite certain that it comes to a close without any end. It seems to go something like this.

I was doing what must have been my 627th load of laundry in our little solar-powered washing machine when I heard a horrible clanging sound.

I rushed into the back room and saw the whole machine jumping up and down as though it wanted to be anywhere but where it was.

I quickly shut it down and called Greg to investigate. I then proceeded to hang that close-enough-to-be-finished last load of laundry on the line and went about my business, leaving Greg to investigate the dancing washing machine.

Hours later, I returned to the cabin.

“What did you find?” I inquired of my dear husband.

“Come and see,” was his reply.

We walked through the small cabin and into the back room. I was amazed.

There was nothing left of the washing machine, but scattered bits of this and that, and things of which I had not a clue were everywhere.

Greg had taken the entire machine apart, down to the last nut and bolt.

With a smile, he explained that there was no way to get to the root of the problem without such a thorough dismantling.

It seems that the spider-like armature that once held the wash drum to the motor had broken.

Greg explained that the only way to repair the broken machine was to replace the drum, armature attached. Unfortunately, this particular manufacturer did not sell the armature separately, but the necessary parts would be delivered in a few days.

I smiled. I really am quite spoiled.

I looked at the now free stainless steel drum. It really was a thing of beauty. We already had a pile of scrap metal down by the barn ready to be taken to the salvage yard, with leftover roofing, old fencing, unnecessary bumpers and such, but this stainless steel tub was far too beautiful to add to the scrap pile.

And then it occurred to me.

I was assuredly looking at what had to be the most beautiful planter in the county.

As I hosed it off at the front spigot, I looked around at our off-grid world.

We have turned leftover PVC pipe into horizontal planters, empty wine bottles into wind chimes and lanterns, old cutlery into sculptures and empty tin cans and old washers into tin woodsmen porch decor.

A reclaimed exercise bike serves to generate electricity when energetic teenagers come to visit, and a friend gave us a trivet made out of an old planter’s seed plate. And I have learned that old tractor tires make excellent raised beds.

Yes, we have been learning the fine art of salvage and have come to wholeheartedly realize that when an item’s originally intended function comes to an end, a whole new realm of possibilities lies delightfully ahead.

So I happily repotted some bee-friendly flowers into my new stainless steel planter.

Again, I stood back and looked around at our off- grid world. Now I just need to find the perfect place in which to proudly show it off.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at