Trash or Treasure

By Kim Johnson

The last neighborhood SOLV day was a success, at least from my point of view - granted I had very little to do with it, because I got rid of so many things I never knew I didn’t need. The bane of the rural homesteader is the accumulation of what can only be described as trash. Rubbish if you are British. It occurs sometimes quite by accident, always with good intentions. It goes something like this:

Husband: “What are we going to do with these old well pipes?”

Wife: “Let’s save them. We could use them for some future unknown project.”

Husband: “What future unknown project?”

Wife: “If I knew, it wouldn’t be unknown.”

The husband agrees to save the well pipes, not because of the future unknown project, not because recycling earns you a better spot in heaven but simply because he doesn’t know what else to do with five sections of 20 foot steel pipes that collectively weigh seven thousand pounds. The husband and wife agree to store them in a “out-of-theway” place for later.

The “out-of-the-way” place is simply a euphemism for trash dump. A place out back that should have a sign that reads “future landfill of America.” The contents of such a site are varied. Sixty-two feet of no climb farm fencing.

Approximately 82 square feet of plastic woven mesh, the kind marketed as a surefire way of keeping birds from eating the cherries off your trees - simply unfold and drape.

A diagram depicts a loving couple unfolding and draping. (All 82 square feet will be tangled up in an unidentifiable mess that should be labeled “divorce in a bag.”) Three roofing shingles, because you never know when you might want to roof a building that is three or less shingles wide. A large pile of rusted metal, various lengths and widths. All homesteads have such a pile. It should have an accompanying sign, “tetanus brew pit,” as no homestead is complete without a way to get lockjaw.

We had a pile “out-of-the-way” and were more than happy when our boundlessly energetic neighbor called and said he had room in his truck to haul just such a pile.

We spent a good 45 minutes hauling various items to the driveway and the awaiting truck. We spent another 75 minutes debating the usefulness of each item as it went in the truck, the husband reassuring that we didn’t need his own wife had called twice to remind him not to bring home any out-of-the-way items regardless of their merit toward future unknown projects.

All in all it was pretty painless, even the part when the boundlessly energetic neighbor bent the well pipes to fit them in the truck and the wife argued with the husband for an additional twenty minutes that in their new configuration the well pipes were perfectly suited to growing various vines and twining things in the garden. No dice, the out-of-the-way was on its way.