Fed up with sitting doing nothing during the quarantine, Wasco veteran Jessica Bell got on YouTube and looked up how to make an office desk and matching bookcase for her new home-based business growing ginseng.

She doesn't consider it a do-it-yourself project, per se.

"I'm doing an I'm-bored project," she said.

Now that the weather's cooperating, the new pastime around Kern County is making improvements and repairs around the house.


People are doing projects they've thought about but never had time for. Parents see it as an opportunity to teach their kids how to use tools — and get them outside.

Rosedale residents Brian and Clementina Sullivan had their three school-age boys help construct a raised garden. Next up: a chicken run for 15 newly named chicks that have been living in the garage.

"We don't want them to be in video games all day long," Brian said, referring to the kids. "It's really been a fun way to pass the time."


The trend has helped sales at local hardware stores, which have been classified as essential under California's stay-at-home order and remain open for business.

Cars and trucks crowd their parking lots. Floyd's General Store is seeing a noticeable revenue bump from projects people wouldn't normally do, District Manager Kevin White said.

"I think it's typical do-it-yourself folks with time on their hands right now," he said.


Former pressman Dennis Harris has continued to work full time at AutoZone during the quarantine. But the lockdown put him in a mood to create.

Besides putting up a pool for his kids, he thought he'd make a ceiling rack for his fishing poles, like the one his brother has.

"I've wanted to do it forever," he said.


Taft residents Natasha Crane and her boyfriend made a coffee table for her dad and are now working on one for themselves. They've already finished a bench swing and a flower planter.

She's also refurbishing a dresser. Their 6-year-old son helps do the sanding.


Oildale homeowner Sharon Legge said her daughter brings over her four children frequently during the quarantine — not before they're done with homework, of course. Legge has been teaching them skills she learned growing up on a farm in Indiana.

They helped her unclog the drains and are now assisting with a fence that was falling down out front. She said they're having a good time learning from their grandmother how to safely handle power tools.

"Now they drill real good," she said, adding that "not many grandmas have a table saw."


Lupe Alvarez and her husband, Agustin Mendoza, each got laid off at the start of the quarantine. Since then, they've built a pen for goats they keep on their 1-acre property east of Buttonwillow.

They've also worked on a rock garden and are building a small porch on the side of their house.

Alvarez said the work probably wouldn't have gotten done during normal times.

"We've got to look at the silver lining," she said. "We've got to make the best of it."

Follow John Cox on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

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