A dirty little secret about rural life

The first weekend after we moved, we had fourteen people here helping us move and helping us with some necessary remodeling projects. Fourteen people, one toilet and a bucket to flush with so you know we were having loads of fun.

As you might imagine, fourteen people can go through a lot of garbage, even without remodeling and moving. We filled up two dumpsters and a bin that were left in the garage by the previous owners. “No matter,” I thought. I mean, all we needed to do was call and get the trash service started and it would all be taken away.

[Missing picture here]

Except those early days were pretty full and I didn’t really know who to call to make it all be taken away. I kept forgetting to try to figure out who to call. Then I discovered how few businesses bother with any sort of online presence in this county. Then our phone book finally came and I made a few calls.

And found out that the guy who does the trash service for this area doesn’t actually service this area.

This was a new thing for us. So new, we hadn’t even considered that there might not actually be trash service. I mean, who ever heard of that? My whole life, the garbage was something you bagged up, kept in the garage and took to the curb once a week. Sure, if you ever forgot to take it out one week, it got to be a bit of an inconvenience, but it was rarely something we thought much about.

But now, suddenly, we were going on nearly a month and inconvenient was hardly the word I’d use to describe the problem that was developing. In case you even want to imagine what I was beginning to feel like, Shel Silverstein actually put it rather well in verse.

…And so it piled up to the ceiling:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas and rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the windows and blocked the door… (Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout, by Shel Silverstein)

Fortunately, it was all occurring in our dumpster on the back porch, but that wasn’t going to last forever. I began thinking about trash in a whole new way. Buy a pizza and you are left with a box, a cardboard circle and a piece of plastic. Buy apples and you are left with a plastic bag and plastic tie. Buy milk and you are left with a plastic jug. Eventually, the trash was going to find the rim of the dumpsters, even the new ones my husband added on, the lids weren’t going to snap closed and we were going to have a bit of a problem, one you don’t want to have when you are already on unsteady terms with the local wildlife.

The neighbor lady who buried her trash in the backyard where we used to live was starting to seem not quite so odd. It was, after all, becoming rather tempting.

To be continued….

Oh yes, stay tuned for the next exciting installment, In Which My Husband Tries to Burn Down the County.

And thankfully, that image is NOT from my backyard. It is a landfill in Australia, courtesy of Wikipedia.

14 comments
  1. Jaime

    I am glad you are posting this, we are trying so hard to move to the country, and I am very interested in your “trash problems” as it is something I have never thought about before.

    (BTW, I am loving the chicken posts! I am bookmarking and taking notes for when we finally are able to have chickens!)

    1. Dana

      Oh wonderful! We love our chickens! And they are very much appreciated now for their leftover food eating capabilities. No brown bananas or slimy oatmeal here. What we don’t eat, they happily gobble up!

  2. Laura

    This is something I wouldn’t have thought to bring up having lived in the country all my life. I have learned that different places handle trash differently. When I grew up and where I live now, you just take your own trash to the county dump and it doesn’t cost anything. I once lived in a place where they charged by the truckload but give discounts for recyclables. One thing to realize is the fewer processed foods you eat and the fewer things you purchase, the less trash you have.

  3. Teresa Smith

    We also live out in the country w/o trash service. We separate burnable stuff from regular trash. We always have feed bags laying around. We pack those full with paper stuff and burn them in a barrel a couple times a month. We also generate@ 3 normal bags of kitchen trash every week or so & I take those in to town w/ me and put them in a public dumpster. I have a large canister on my counter that I put all my kitchen scraps that can go out to my chickens and goats. By giving the animals my kitchen scraps my regular trash does not get so stinky. We also have a large pit that we can put big stuff in that would not make it to town.

    I totally feel your pain over your situation!! Wish I had some ideas @ how to get rid of what you have there now. Sorry 🙁

    Blessings,
    Navah/Teresa

  4. Andrea_R

    Similar ironies have occurred to me when I try to get my recyclable garbage taken care of. I have to load it all up, drive it to the city, and unload it there.

    1. Dana

      Such Schadenfreude! 🙂 No, actually, the last thing on my mind was getting a camera and the local news didn’t show up. Or maybe it did, but the grapevine doesn’t carry recording equipment when it shows up.

  5. kat

    One of the benefits of the land we found in Maine is the proximity of the town landfill. It is only 2 miles away and up there in hippyville they are serious about recycling. We just load up the back of the pickup and haul it away (no fee for residents). However, my husband doesn’t appreciate me coming home with the back filled with horse manure as they have big piles of that and shredded mulch available to all. One day we will have our own manure to compost, but until then he gets the opportunity to wash out the truck bed every few weeks!

  6. Dusti

    I just found your blog.
    I love to read about cooking, gardening, homeschooling, and raising kids to serve our Lord. I look forward to reading more.
    I’ll add your botton on my blog.

  7. Peter

    Can’t wait for the next installment. Oh, the immortality of it all…. Your husband will never be able to play this one down. Should you feel guilty?

    1. Dana

      Our family has hit the grapevine twice now. I think our reputation shall precede us wherever we go.

      At least people will know us, even if it is for our misadventures.

  8. WildIris

    Welcome to country living. We go to the dump every six months and find ourselves bagging up the old trash the critters pawed through months before. Sometime I sneak my trash into town if it is a chicken and I don’t want the dogs to get the bones. I use any available trash can, clean out the car and get a fresh start.

    Chickens are great because they eat bugs and kitchen scraps and their bedding and manure make good compost.

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