Good Riddance to Refuse

Posted by Nick  | 18 Aug 2015  | 4 comments

Rubbish. What to do with it?

One of our long-term goals is to be as rubbish-free as possible. But at the start of our journey here there’s a lot of junk to deal with – namely that which was left behind by the previous owner. If you read some of our earlier posts, you may recall these piles of crap we gathered from around the farm and under the house:

A task I reluctantly undertook recently was separating all the wood from the inorganic trash and then cramming said trash into the back of the ute.

It was one hell of a mission fitting it all in there, but somehow it was managed without any room to spare (plus three garbage bags in the back seat).

I remember visiting landfills in Auckland just to witness the shear enormity of one city’s waste. Beholding that overwhelming vastness cemented a lifelong sense of both guilt and helplessness, knowing that without a radical change in lifestyle I would always be a part of the problem.

I was therefore understandably annoyed when it came to having to dump the above amount, however insignificant on the landscape of human waste. Nevertheless, it had to be done.

It did feel cathartic finally ridding ourselves of this clutter which had been an eyesore for almost a year. As sad as it is to say, it wasn’t our problem any more.

The remaining trash was unusable wood, which we decided we would burn. Some people in the country burn their inorganic rubbish, too, but we can’t bring ourselves to release all those harmful pollutants into the atmosphere; benzene, styrene, and the like. It’s a hard call to make, but the stuff’s probably better off in a landfill.

Also burning large amounts of wood simply for the sake of getting rid of it isn’t ideal, but sometimes it’s the most economical option. Counter-intuitively, it can also be the most “green” option. Making mulch or firewood from junk wood requires fossil-fuel machinery such as chainsaws and chippers, which have more of an environmental impact than the burn-off itself.

Despite the doom-and-gloom associated with contributing to climate change, we can’t deny the excitement of lighting a good ol’ bonfire!

According to my mother, I’ve always been a bit of a pyromaniac. She’s not wrong…

We made this small pile to start, then added more wood as the inferno took off.

We had some friends over, which made it all the more festive. If you ever do need to burn some junk wood, make an event out of it! At least then it’s not a complete waste.

It was the perfect winter’s evening for it. Almost no wind, zero chance of rain, and chilly enough to warrant huddling close to the flames.

You couldn’t get too close, though, it got pretty damn hot. This was a comfortable distance:

It was the perfect way to end a day on the farm after planting citrus trees in the orchard and tagging sheep. The fire was warm enough that we even had dinner by the firelight after dark.

As the inferno grew, we took great joy in throwing more wood into the flames, which became an increasingly difficult endeavour with the rising temperature.

Big flat pieces – I think this is a table top – were used as shields against the radiation. That way you could get close enough to kick or prod the pieces of wood that seemed intent on escaping the flames.

Aaand… pose!

As night fell the bonfire grew.

We kept watch until the flames were weak enough for us to go inside, which took a while…

Some of us relished the destruction a little too much…

The next morning all that remained was smoking rubble and a whole bunch of fencing wire. Finally, the majority of junk this place came with is GONE!

We’ll need to fashion a magnetic broom to pick up all the nails…

A much much bigger bonfire is on the horizon. Stay tuned for an inferno of epic proportions…

4 comments Leave a comment

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Guy Fawkes?? Would be spectacular!


Great idea!

George Shears
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I empathize strongly both with your internal conflict about disposing of rubbish and the relief in getting rid of it. Like you, Nick, I have found no easy solution to this perpetual problem. Regardless of how ecologically conscious we may be, we all end up being culpable–at least to some limited degree–in being part of the problem.

On another note, however, having not visited your blog for a few weeks, I’m enormously impressed with the huge progress you and Char have made in becoming full-fledged farmers. I’m happy to know that your “ladies” are laying now. I hope you can reign in their adolescent spirits and convince them to conform by laying their eggs in the nests you provide, instead of being promiscuous in laying them wherever they damn well please. Also, I’m curious whether they mystery of Echo’s disappearance has been resolved.

Keep up your excellent progress. Spring will be upon you again in a twinkling of an eye.

P.S It’s hard for me to comprehend how it can be so green there even in the midst of winter.


Thanks for the enjoyable comment and kind words as always, George. I can assure you, although our green winter pastures are a far cry from what the snowy wonderlands look like up your way, the grass is pretty much dormant – might as well be blanketed in snow! Lots of hay/silage being fed out to the stock.

As for Echo the duck, we still have no conclusion to the story of her disappearance. Sadly, she’s presumed dead. It is most likely that she was killed by some kind mustelid and dragged into a burrow, since there is no sign of her remains which one might expect of a hawk/falcon attack. She was a lone duck, which would have been easy pickings. We could choose to believe she became hormonal and flew away in search of a mate… but it’s highly unlikely, since she was hand-raised by humans. We’ll write a commemorative post for Echo sometime in the near future.

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