Chickens in a Buick

In a field not too far from our country cottage sits a Buick. I believe it’s a Riviera from about 1950; it was originally royal blue (if the Americans acknowledge that color). It looks to be in a not-bad condition; it has four wheels, one in each corner, and an engine up front.

It is home to a dozen or so chickens, and I must say that they seem well pleased with their home, though they are often disturbed during weekends by children. The children seem to be oblivious to the guano which covers the seats, the gear shift and the steering wheel as they fantasize their car chases.

In another field at the far side of the valley, there is another four-wheeled chicken house; it was a bread van until about five years ago. The chickens to whom that is home have the advantage of a bulkhead between their quarters and the cab, and so the weekend “drivers” have the advantage of a guano-free cab.

This recycling of vehicles is a good thing in my opinion and should be encouraged. There used to be a fishing boat up near Bozburun that had the sawn-off top of a car as its cabin. Conversely we have elsewhere seen a ship’s cabin, also sawn off, used as the ticket office in a parking lot. Of course it is very common on the tourist coast to see whole or half small boat hulls used as bars in pubs and cafes. Somewhere up the coast sits a large gullet several hundred meters from the sea. It too looks to be in very good condition. It is a restaurant.

So I think it is fair to say that Turks are very good at recycling. Commercial quantities of vegetable oil and olive oil are sold in cans which hold about 18 liters. Around here the most common brand seems to be “Balcı,” so we have adopted that word as generic for those cans. “Let’s use a balgi-can.” The cans are very widely used. I suppose the most common use is as flower pots; we ourselves have a few, suitably painted, and they are fine for about three years, by which time they are too rusted. Our neighbors use them for that purpose but don’t “suitably paint” them — one coat of lime wash is deemed sufficient.

Another use is in the building industry. Their tops cut off, they are used as sand, cement, water or concrete-carrying buckets, usually born on the shoulders of the laborers but sometimes a simple wooden handle is attached across the top to aid carrying (Absolutely full of concrete such a can will weigh some 40 kilos, no light load to be carried up a ladder).

The cans share a use with car tires: filled with concrete, they make parasol bases.

With both ends cut off and the body of the can opened out we have two sizes of roofing shingle, perhaps not for one’s main abode but certainly for one’s chicken shed (pending the demise of the family car).

Another not-uncommon use of the ubiquitous balgi-can in villages such as ours is as sacrificial formwork for concrete pillars. Both the top and bottom are removed and the cans are built up with concrete infill, one by one, until the column reaches the desired height. Not surprisingly the column seldom achieves true verticality, the “joints” between the cans always leak, and the result is a terrible mess both structurally and aesthetically. Sometimes the column may be given the cursory splash of lime wash in order to half obliterate the word “Balci,” but not always; the villagers seem unconcerned. I’m guessing that the manufacturers of the oil are well pleased with all their free advertising.

In towns where street sweepers are employed by the local authority, those good men are armed with a reed broom and a balgi-can which is cut to approximately dust-pan shape and to which a long wooden handle is attached. Super!

Oil drums can become stoves in Turkey. We once found a bean tin with a handle affixed to make a drinking mug, and near us a neighbor has a dead fuel tanker as his water reservoir; I think he must have cleaned and purged it before commissioning it.

Now, I’ve used the word recycling and opined that Turks are good at it. Perhaps I should have said “re-using,” because Turks are not yet very good at recycling as we know it in Europe. Yes, some will collect drinks cans, which presumably go for re-smelting, but generally speaking, all waste, from dead animals to dead car parts, goes into the same bin. The collectors of the drinks cans do very well without rummaging around in those bins, the majority of drinks cans having been thrown to the sides of roads.

In Germany waste must be placed in appropriate bins: glass, plastic, food, paper or metals. To put waste into the incorrect bin is considered a mortal sin, and I suspect that if caught a transgressor may be shot on the spot.

Die Frau recently had a present from a friend returning from India. It was a very attractive jacket and one would think it to be made from conventional, perhaps even natural, material. However a label inside explained that it was in fact made from recycled plastic shopping bags.

On the east coast of Africa, thousands of flip flops are collected from beaches and recycled somehow as handbags. I used to recycle floating flip flops when I was at sea. I would fish out individual floating ones and typically would have a pair of matching ones of similar size once a month. I am sure that the Mediterranean bears the best harvest in the world. Forget the English Channel.

So please let us remember these things, readers. Let’s have Turkey recycle along European lines, and let’s have those picturesque villages in the Cotswolds or the Black Forest brighten themselves up with a few classic cars as chicken houses.


John Laughland – AKA The Old Groaner


Posted via web from Jonathan Bowker

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