So the other day I got a phone call from my sister, who had spotted a "free pallets, lots of them, take all you want, no need to ask when you get here, first come first served" advertisement on one of our local-ish Facebook rummage sale groups.
She wanted a few pallets to make garden beds out of, they knew I wanted pallets in unlimited quantities, and her husband was willing to hook up his flatbed trailer and make the 40-minute drive each way to the industrial location to get a big haul. Was I ready to go and help load?
In spirit I was, but I was also caught up in an all-afternoon family errand I simply could not punt on short notice. I gave my sincerest regrets.
So I carried on with my errand, full of moderate sadness about all of the garden beds, chicken coops, privacy fencing, sheds, compost bins, and so forth that I would not be making with all that lovely free pallet lumber.
And then I got home to find this beautiful pile of pallets in my yard. Apparently they went anyway, she got the few pallets she wanted, and they neatly stacked the rest of the load in my yard for me:
Don't I have the best sister ever? (Brother-in-law gets major props too, obviously.)
She also sent me this photo of their trailer right after loading.
No, the triple-high stack of lovely IBC totes in the background was not up for grabs, darnit!
Honestly I am not sure what my priority uses for these pallets ought to be. There are three major improvements on my list for this winter: more raised beds, some sort of small tool shed (three-sided lean-to, just a place to get stuff out of the rain) and a beginner poultry coop and run. Building materials are always in critical short supply; that pallet stack will help with all three projects.
Your people really did you a solid!
I would start with the tool shed,it's amazing what getting your tools in order can do for expediting work.
The coop would be next,but that's because I just got chickens,and I wish I had done so sooner.
How about raised beds with a hoop house over each one. Add compost and chickens and rotate.
Portable hen house travels to each bed in turn. Seed behind them winter cover crops, let them turn them over in due time.
Spring time,the chickens will need to be kept out of the three sides beds, the hoop houses could be screen houses.
If the beds are built in a "circle",they could become the perimeter of the summer chicken yard.
Pretty much what I plan for my second yard,only mine will use quail,they will be in the beds almost all the time,and my beds are interspersed in my orchard.
Buy yourself some bailing wire,or splurge on zip ties,but avoid wasting too much on the pallet beds, they have a rather limited lifespan.
As you say the pallet wood doesn't survive long in contact with soil, so the raised beds are my lowest priority I think. Tool shed is top priority I think, for just the reasons you mention. I'm working out of a non-running van and a couple of tight-sealing garbage cans right now to keep my tools out of the weather; it's a tight jumble and not at all convenient, and fixing to get worse after I put the vinyl swimming pool in the van for the winter tomorrow. I have good roundwood for digging in as long-lasting structural posts -- we have surplus honeylocust and osage orange and eastern red cedar on this property, all of which are said to last well without rotting quickly. With those for structure, the pallets will make quick walls and roof, with a bit of recycled roofing steel for waterproofing. I've done well at garage sales at buying large quantities of nails and deck screws for next to no money; it's amazing how many people are willing to sell a coffee can full of nails or a partial box of deck screws for one or two dollars.
The chickens are more complicated. We have ill-behaved rescue dogs; I think I need to start with adult chickens and build a pretty good fortress for them. Over time I'll get a better sense of which of my dogs can be trained/trusted and which of them are hopeless. So I'm going slow on the chickens, and plan to start with a small flock, a fixed run that's well-fenced, and a very solid coop. The pallets will do good work both in building the coop and in maybe anchoring parts of the fence.
I hear yah on the dogs.
Mine won't even acknowledge the chooks,and runs away from the bunnies so we got lucky on that.
If you are keeping the van ,it could be one wall of your tool shed.
Does it run at all? I have been dreaming of using a vehicle engineering as a bootleg generator...
With great poles like the Osage etc, your building will outlast the siding!