Building with pallets is something that we have become quite accustomed to on the farm, as they are free, easy to use, and can be used to form the base of almost any animal housing or fencing quickly when you need just that… which seems like all the time around here. Suddenly the ducks are too big for their current pen, and a house is required. Of course, pallet houses aren’t something worthy of a decorating magazine, and I’m sure Martha Stewart would have a conniption, but the ducks don’t seem to mind so I’m going with that win.
If you have a cordless drill, the general assembly of the palettes gets even better, or at least sturdier. Of course, dragging around water-logged pallets through the last of the melting ice and snow makes the job that much more challenging (which is when I did it), but the speed in which you can get the job done is the enjoyable part. You an stack the pallets any way you want, and by draping an ever-so-stylish blue tarp across the top, you can cut the wind.
Of course, if you get really creative, you can always stuff straw in the palets as insulation, which I’m sure our ducks appreciated. The important thing however, is understanding the stamps on the side of the palets and what they mean, and what to look for.
Palets are treated so that insects won’t be transported in a wood, but it’s important to know what your pallet was treated with. Chemicals or heat are generally the options, depending on where they will be headed. Europe apparently doesn’t allow chemically treated pallets, as the chemicals are so horrific… so you don’t want that stuff leaching into your farm’s soil. The good news is, you can easily hunt for the heat treated ones.
Pallets are stamped with a code, and if you see the magic letters of “HT” you’re in business. “HT” stands for “Heat treated”. The rest of the stamp, isn’t important for our usage, but for interests sake “IPPC” stands for “International Plant Protection Convention” (embedded in the wheat symbol), the first set of letters represent the country of origin (Canada in this case) and the numbers represent the auditing agency responsible for overseeing that specific manufacturing of the pallet.
So, to simplify, just look for “HT”. If you can’t find the letters, don’t bother with the pallet – or at least that’s the rule at our farm. We’ve built tones of stuff with pallets – raised planters for our new orchard where the water table is too high for the trees, duck houses, pig houses, nesting boxes… the list goes on. Dismantling a pallet is a bit slow, but with a Sawzal Saw, you can cut right through the nails – just make sure you have some extra blades, as it’s pretty tough on them.
So whether it be for crafting or farming, pallets are fabulous… and best of all… free! And although they don’t make the most stylish housing, the ducks don’t seem to mind!
Good luck and Happy Farming!