I started the process of cleaning up the grove today. It’s a little bit of a joke because all I did was take a five gallon bucket and go for a stroll.
It didn’t take long before my bucket was full, and I was returning to the point of entry to dump the bucket full of rusty cans, broken bottles, and small car parts into our garbage cart.
And then I went in again. And again. And again. There were some neat unbroken bottles in there, as well as a 1964 Minnesota license plate. But, it comes to a point where you have to quit collecting and start cleaning.
After about five buckets-full, it started to sprinkle, and I decided I’d done enough trash-picking for today, but I couldn’t help going back in to simply walk around and look. The grove is old, and it has deteriorated to the point where there is a) a lot of buckthorn, and b) a lot of dead, downed trees that make it hard to pick a trail. But it’s still a “woods,” and being a woman who grew up more-or-less in the woods, there’s still that attraction to walking amongst the trees.
Closer to the road (and farther from the outbuildings), there’s not so much trash. I mostly took that route by default because I was trying to get around the tangle of downed limbs. But then I wove my way back toward the farmstead, and found the worst of the smaller trash (there are some bigger car parts and machinery chunks in one area I didn’t get to) right near the old monitor-roof hog barn we’re considering restoring. Diet Pepsi cans galore, lots of old bottles, and some rusted-out pesticide containers.
Somehow, I think the MPCA might frown on this sort of disposal these days.
There’s a part of me that is truly galled by the trashing of old farm groves. But I don’t know anyone who has purchased an older farm and not had to contend with this sort of problem (unless the people who lived there before them cleaned it up).
There wasn’t an organized system of waste collection nor recycling when this trashing took place–the grove was where stuff that didn’t decompose got tossed (and maybe where stuff that did decompose was tossed–though food “waste” was fed to the chickens or hogs). I’m not finding much plastic, after all–most all of it is metal and glass from at least 20 years ago–and much of it is quite a bit older than that.
Old habits die hard, after all–if grandpa threw all his cans in the grove and there’s already a pile of cans in the grove, well, then chances are you’re going to throw your can in the grove, too. I’ve heard from some families who’ve spent years taking trash out one section at a time while they also clear out the dead trees, control the buckthorn, and plant new trees to take the place of the fallen. It’s an ongoing process.
So, my forays into grove-cleaning today were pretty insignificant in the face of what it’s going to take to really de-trash the place. But a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, and it was a lovely day for a walk in the woods.
I understand your job/labor of love. We too spent years cleaning the forest behind our new to us/old cottage in Ontario Canada. Previous owners had taken good care of the cottage and the waterfront all the while using the forest as a garbage dump. Even after you think you’ve got it all, carry a bag in your pocket when you walk in your woods. You’ll be surprised what can come up out of the ground year after year.