Wednesday 9 July 2008: Reclamation

After a delicious breakfast of chorizo and eggs, Greg and Daniel hauled away the fifty-one tires to be disposed of properly.  This whole tire disposal thing has been a headache.  A scrap yard will pay you for old metal, even if it is dirty and rusty; but with old tires, you pay someone to take them away.  Greg made many phone calls trying to find someplace that would take our tires without charging too much or requiring too long a drive.  (We don’t get great mileage pulling a trailer-load of tires with the Suburban.)  He got a mixed bag of results, with charges anywhere from two to five dollars per tire, and locations near or far.  Finally, amazingly, he found a place that would take them for $2.50 each, right here in Kingsbury.  He paid $152.50 to dispose of the whole lot.


After that, we all worked long hours at the home site, clearing metal.  Most of the stuff has to be dug up before being moved; like Greek ruins, it is partially or wholly buried.


The copperhead is still hanging around, but keeping out of our way.  Emilie stepped on an inch-long mesquite thorn, which went all the way through the thick rubber sole of her shoe and pricked her heel.  Daniel and Anna, working entirely on their own, unearthed three old transmissions and loaded them onto the trailer, to Greg’s great surprise; the problem of how to move these objects had been preying on his mind.  One of them was overgrown by an enormous prickly pear cactus, which Daniel whacked apart with his machete.


The area where the kids and I mostly worked today seems to have been used as a dump for the hired man’s trash.  Some of the refuse was deposited directly on the ground.  A few feet away, we found the remains of an old burn barrel under a lot of charred stuff.  Going after this stuff with hoe and rake, I am reminded of archeologists, sifting through the dump sites of old civilizations, noting what is in each layer, and making surmises about the progress or regress of the culture based on what the people threw away.


At bedtime tonight, Greg and I talked about the tires.  He told me that during his discouraging investigation of disposal costs, he was sorely tempted to just put the whole lot out of sight somewhere, perhaps in a gully where it might be theoretically useful as erosion protection.  There were so many other ways he could have spent the money, so many tools that would be useful to him now and for years to come.  But he could not convince himself that the gully scenario would really amount to anything more than shifting an eyesore from one spot to another.  In short, it would have been completely out of keeping with his vision for the farm.  He could not in good conscience treat his family’s land like a dump.


A mess of any kind builds up momentum over time, gaining negative energy which, like a kind of metaphysical black hole, sucks your will to fight it.  I am proud of Greg for digging in his heels and refusing to continue the cycle.


This is not like Little House, working land that has never before been plowed, carving a livelihood out of virgin wilderness.  This is reclamation.  It has its own particular set of challenges and rewards.  It is the motivating force behind adopting a child, or slipcovering an old sofa someone threw away, or rescuing an abandoned animal; and it is near to the heart of God.

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