...Well, almost free. I was getting desperate for some ballast and so I stopped off at my LHS. No big tubs of ballast in my size, the only fine ballast they had were those little bags, about 1/2 a pound for around $4.00. I bought two bags, but that wasn't going to be even close to what I need, so about a week later I went to Home Depot and bought a 90# bag of masonry sand. I chose that over play sand because play sand was too course and consistent. The regular sand was a mixture of from course to fine, plus it was only $1.68 a bag, or about once cent a half pound (you do the math, but I think that comes to about 40,000% difference). Now all I needed to do was to sort out the big chunks from the little ones. I used three kinds of screens, a window screen, a sun screen and a kitchen sifter, each one had a little finer mesh. It took less than an hour and I had a big container of very course talus, (ideal for N scale), and three containers of course, medium and fine ballast. The fine grade is as fine and consistent as the Woodland Scenic stuff I bought for N scale ballast, and the med and course grades should be good for HO ballast. The thing is, I've still got about 80# of sand left over that I can either sift to get more ballast, or I can use it in the mortar to build my wife a nice garden wall. As far as the HO grade stuff, anyone within distance of me is welcome to it.