15,000 Pounds

15,000 Pounds

My husband and I moved into an old farmhouse. The house itself was full of weird stuff, like SEVENTEEN different types of flooring, and we decided we would, one day at a time, remodel it.

Which is something that was only possible because my husband has skills. I am mostly useless at things with tools, but I can help when given clear instructions. I can also lift things up and put them back down.

So my husband demoed the upstairs, and we ended up with a bunch of construction debris. We decided to take an extra day off together and rent a dumpster and fill it with the debris. A fun weekend activity.

The weekend came; the twenty cubic yard dumpster arrived. When we moved in, we noticed the former owner, whom we not-so-lovingly refer to as the Tater, left a bunch of big pieces of trash– a barrel we could bury a body in, doors, so many doors, a broken fire pit, a giant concrete mushroom, a broken bird bath etc, by a shed. We figured, we could toss those things into the dumpster too.

Well, four hours into having the dumpster, we filled it with just the trash the former owner left. I was between the fence and the shed, pulling out years of trash he'd stuck back there. Pipes, twelve foot boards, a dog kennel a tree had grown through, pieces of flooring, you name it, the guy stuffed it back there. And of course we found his hallmark piece of trash– those little green plastic floss picks. He wedged those everywhere, in the windowsills, between the baseboards and flooring, all over the yard, under the oven. The man was a menace.

We ordered second dumpster, and the dumpster guy told us we were working too hard. Slowly, we began to fill the second dumpster, this time with the actual construction trash. On the last day of the weekend, the dumpster guy came back and took the second, filled to the brim, dumpster. He left, and my neighbor buzzed by on an ATV.

This neighbor always stopped to talk to me and tell me what I was doing was wrong. He wasn't exactly mean, but he was a mansplainer. At this point in time I was pulling dead trees and branches out from an overgrown fence line. I was chipping them in a little wood chipper; it was slow, annoying work.

"HEY! Why you doing that? That's a waste of time!" he yelled, because he was always yelling due to what I could only assume to be a life of eschewing ear pro.

"I'm chipping these sticks."

Which he could obviously see, but what else was I supposed to say?

"Some asshole has been messing with the head gate," he said, stomping across my lawn. "I think it's him."

Note: The head gate is the gate in the irrigation ditch which controls how much water goes downstream.

He pointed to my neighbor whom the whole neighborhood hated. He was the guy who thought women putting on make up were the cause of the speeding epidemic. Apparently, the neighborhood was convinced this guy was decreasing the amount of water in the irrigation ditch, causing the far neighbor's crops to die.

I nodded. More neighbors pulled up on a ATVs. It was decided they were going to put a game cam up on the tree by the head gate, and then they would catch whatever bastard was causing the crops to die. The game cam pointed directly at my driveway. I idly wondered how sensitive it was and thought they might get a lot of shots of me dumping trash into my trash bin. I also noted they'd clearly never used a game cam for people before, as they didn't hide it at all. They didn't even lock it to the tree. This might start more drama if it gets stolen.

When they finished rigging the game cam, the nice but mansplainy neighbor came back and told me to put my sticks on his burn pile, it's just next to the Peterbilt (a semi truck) in his yard. He reminded me again was being dumb by chipping the sticks.

Normally, I wouldn't have take him up on his offer because even though I'm not involved in things like head gate drama in this neighborhood, I was stubborn, and maybe that's the defining quality of all of us. I didn't want to be told what to do anymore than he did. But we just threw out forty cubic yards of crap from our yard, and there was no room for the yard waste, and these piles of sticks were eating at the edge of my consciousness. We were so close to having a somewhat cleaned up yard, if I could just get rid of these f'ing downed trees. So I said, yeah. I would throw my sticks next to your Peterbilt.

Two truckloads later, the majority of the slash was off our property and sitting in a pile ready to burn two doors down. It only cost us thirty minutes of time talking about hunting hogs from helicopters and how dumb hemp farmers are (although I really had no skin in the hemp farming game). My husband was also invited to drive ATV's through our neighbor's fields and see his crops. I was not invited.

We drove home and my husband got an email. The dumpster guy charged us for 7.4 tons of trash. That was nearly 15,000 pounds. In three days, my husband and I moved 15,000 pounds of trash out of our yard and into those dumpsters, and that didn't even count the downed trees we moved to the neighbor's yard.

That night we went out to eat. We drove the farm road in our neighborhood, looking at everyone's properties.

"Look how much stuff they have," my husband said. "When you looked at our yard, it didn't really look like we had that much trash, but we had almost seven and a half tons of it. When I look at these," he nodded at a yard with several rotting wagons, pieces of broken cars, lawn ornaments, parts of random machines, a series of lawn gnomes and wooden butterflies, "I think, now that's a lot of trash."

He was right, but I was too tired to care. I was thinking about how good chips and salsa would taste. I was thinking about the fact that I couldn't really understand that we moved nearly 15,000 pounds this weekend. And I  couldn't really understand how jus two people put 15,000 pounds of trash into the dump in one weekend.

"Do you think," my husband asked, "that the neighbors judge me because you're doing manual labor? You're one of the only women who is ever outside on our street."

He wasn't wrong. Other than my one neighbor, I'd never seen another adult woman outside.

"It's good for them," I said. "Makes them challenge their own beliefs, just like they challenge mine."

"Do you think I really have to go see our neighbor's crops?" my husband asked.

"Yup. He asked you, and not me. He did let us dump a bunch of trees in his yard."

"How long do you think it will take?"

"Oh, at least four hours. He likes to talk, and he certainly can't hear you over the ATV motor, so every time he wants to tell you a story, he'll have to kill the motor, and your tour will stop."

My husband didn't say anything. We drove by a house with a falling down fence. I estimated cleaning that up alone would need one twenty cubic yard dumpster. I smiled. Maybe I'd plant some more flowers while my husband checked out the crops. Traditional women's work right there, and with the neighbor gone, no one would roll up on me and tell me I was doing it wrong.