Lee Pitts: One Man’s Trash
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you may have a ticking time bomb on your ranch.
Several years ago on a place we leased we were visited by aliens in spacesuits who arrived in otherworldly vehicles and spoke an indecipherable language. No, I’m not some UFO nut who was abducted by martians, these guys were remediaters, which are far spookier. I know, I’d never heard of them before either. They were there because somehow they’d discovered that there was an old underground fuel tank on the premises. This came as a complete surprise to my landlord.
The remediaters brought in all sorts of heavy equipment to dig out the tank and to remediate the soil that had been “contaminated.” Once out of the ground they discovered that the tank was full of fuel which to you and me might suggest that the tank didn’t leak. To the remediaters it meant practically all the soil in the township had to be removed and cleansed. In other words, they had to clean the clean soil that had NOT been contaminated.
While they were at it the remediaters discovered a dump on the ranch, which to the sanitation engineers in environmental services is like finding a fresh cow pie in the living room. They were so upset all they could see were dollar signs!
These days Americans produce three and a half pounds of trash daily that is filling up our landfills but ranchers in the PS period (pre-styrofoam), had other ways of dealing with the politically incorrect trash. Newspapers, magazines, and catalogs were “recycled” in the outhouse while rougher recyclables went up in smoke in the burn barrel on foggy days. There was no such thing as disposable diapers or food waste like brussel sprouts, liver and lima beans, which were fed to the hog. Everything else went to the dump.
Our dump contained things like decaying corral boards, a wringer washer, green appliances, irrigation pipe twisted up like pretzels, concrete chunks, an old chicken coop, bed springs, tires, buckets with holes in them and parts of an airplane that landed far short of the nonexistent runway. We also found many valuable antiques like chicken feeders and waterers that you see in antique shops for sixty bucks apiece. There was also an old calf table that two ropers had probably headed and heeled and drug to the dump in disgrace. I sold it to a bad-roping neighbor for a quick $100. Cows had pretty much sorted through the decaying trash and destroyed a lot of the “good stuff” but we did find a big rusty roll of valuable barb wire that’s now safe in our house rising in value faster than my IRA. Hey, some folks have annuities, I have twenty yards of Glidden’s flat line four point (1876).
Being an environmentalist, I made few contributions to the dump although it did serve as a final resting place for my Grandpa’s old horse trailer that hadn’t been registered for 40 years. First, I had to haul it 30 miles on the freeway so to avoid the cops I smeared a little cow poop over the spot where the current tag was supposed to be. (Note: If you try this at home use baby calf manure as it sticks better.)
Like everyone else, you won’t believe my other contribution to the dump. Years ago my wife and her cousin were weeding the garden when they looked up and saw a coyote scoping out our sheep. They yelled at me and I got in the truck and tried to get within shooting range as it ran away. In desperation I stopped the truck, aimed my 22 and launched a no-chance bullet just as the coyote looked my way. To my amazement the coyote dropped like a rock. I swear I hit that coyote right between the eyes! (I know, I didn’t believe it either.)
I showed the carcass to my wife to prove my marksmanship and then took my trophy to the dump because my wife wouldn’t let me hang it in the house.
That’s how I ended up playing tug-of-war with a sanitation engineer in a spaceman’s suit with a decaying coyote carcass because he said I couldn’t keep the “biological hazard”.
It’s true what they say, one man’s trash really is another man’s treasure.