People! Right? Ever wondered where the good ones are? Where have all the nice people gone? Just about the time you think the good people have all gone the way of the dodo, along comes someone who reminds you just how wonderful people can be…and they bring compost too.
A week or so ago, I put an ad out on Craigslist and asked for compost, manure, and (bagged) leaves. The sandy stuff from the nursery is $45 a yard; good when you ain’t got nothing else, but not what I really want for the spring garden. We moved into this new home (well, “new” to us), and we have no resources yet for spring soil-building. And, spring will be upon us in no time. The best time to start making compost is right now…and anytime is “right now.” So, this fella calls and says, “You still looking for compost?”
“Sure!” I respond. “What ya got?”
“I’ve got goat and hay mixed.” Now I am pretty sure he meant goat POOP and hay mixed, but if he’d thrown in a goat with the mix (provided it was upright and breathing and not part of the compost), I’d’ve been very happy.
Craigslist is a funny thing. You see something that has been posted or post something you’re looking for, and when you get a call from the seller/giver, the timing is always off. Then I appear all wishy-washy with what I can do as far as meeting and making the deal happen. On this particular response, the fella called while I was staying late at the school for for parent-teacher conferences. “I’d love to come by and pick it up, but I will have to wait a day or two.”
“Why don’t I bring it by to your place; I’ll load it in my trailer and haul it over there. Where you at?”
Alarms are going off! Is this guy serious? Who does that? What was the catch? I gave him my address; was that smart? I don’t know, but I did give him my address and explained to him that I was at the school and that he should call me when he gets close. My school building is only 5 minutes away (sweet!).
A bit later I got a call, “Okay, we’re here.”
“We’re here?” I thought a guy was going to show up with a trailer of compost. When I arrived, his Chevy blazer was sitting out front with his trailer…and what a trailer it was. This was a dual-axle, 20’ (so it appeared) horse trailer. It was such a large trailer for a couple of yards of compost. I don’t know why, but I had pictured that he had two or three yards to give away. Both front doors of the Blazer opened and a big fella with a full beard pulled himself out of the driver’s seat, and a younger gal in her teen years steps out of the passenger’s side. She was a short-haired gal with a stocky build and a nice smile pushing out her bare, freckled cheeks.
“Where you want us to put it?” the bearded man looked about the acre, and then nosed toward the compost pile in the back, seeing that was the logical place to put more compost.
It took me a bit to process his question. As a matter of fact, I had to answer the question with a question, “Put it? You mean you are going to unload it…now…tonight?” The light was soft during the 18th hour of the day and likely to be pitch black by the time unloading was completed.
“Sure, why’d you think I brought her?” He held up the left arm of his daughter and the short sleeve fell back a bit displaying the girth of her upper arm.
“No, no. I couldn’t ask you to unload it, just…” I looked behind the pair at the long, blue trailer and paused, then redirected my thought, “How much you got?”
The bearded man rubbed his bare belly under his shirt with his left hand, displaying more flesh that I cared to see, “That trailer is full; we don’t mind unloading it for you.”
There had to be some sort of catch here. They brought it over and now they want to unload it for me. They must have a ton of this stuff and are in desperate need to get rid of it all…or there’s another reason. I couldn’t stay and help; I had to get back to the school.
After a bit of, “We are happy to unload it for you.” And, “No, I couldn’t ask you to do that.” back-and-forth friendly arguing, we finally decided that they would back the trailer up to the compost pile and I would unload it on Monday (I needed to paint on Friday and had to work all weekend). They backed it up, then waved through the closed windows of the Blazer as the they drove off down the blacktop road.
Distrust started to set in as I looked at this sizable trailer and studied it. I kinda giggled at what the neighbors were thinking about this parked blue eyesore and whether or not it was going to be a fixture on the property. Why was that guy being so nice? All kinds of things started going through my mind. What if there was a dead goat under all that alfalfa and poop? Dead goat…what if there was a dead person? Was the trailer stolen, and he just dropped it off for a gag? Or, maybe the nice guy was just that…a nice guy.
Homesteading is not about the soloist who wants to run away from society. Homesteading is embracing the neighbor and sharing knowledge and resources that you have in abundance and welcome knowledge and resources you may be lacking. Homesteading is about community. When folks come together and most of their needs are met, there is less to fear if there is a major societal upset. Sure, there will be the knuckleheads with a seed bank and 4,000 rounds of carbine that find out real quickly that bullets don’t taste good no matter how much Mrs. Dash you sprinkle on top. Seeds take time to grow (not to mention knowledge to grow them). When that dolt realizes he’s hungr,y and the food YOU have will suit him just fine, he’s less likely to “ask” when there are supportive, like-minded neighbors around.
Sure, it’s okay to reject the principles and behaviors of society…and it’s okay to incorporate society and the comforts that it provides into your life. We choose to embrace many of the wonderful things our current, modern society offers, but we keep society just at arm’s length. If it were not for the Internet (a modern nicety), we’d never have received that large amount of compost, nor would you be reading this article about us meeting the wonderfully gracious folks who brought it to us.
Where have all the nice people gone? They’re still there. They are the people that live next door who stop mowing their lawn and take a moment to hand a bag of tomatoes over the fence. They are the co-worker who agrees to cover your shift so you can get home and can up that mess of cucumbers that just happened to ripen all at once. They are the people you meet on the Internet who drive 10 miles out of their way and deliver compost to the homesteader. There are plenty of booger-butts out there, but I bet there are just as many selfless folks that are more than happy to share what they have…even with other people whom they don’t even know.
We homestead now not because we have to; we homestead now so we’re ready when we need to.
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