Farm Life: Recycling

P1040872“Use it up, Wear it out, Make do, Or do without” was a motto that I grew up with.  Long before recycling become trendy or routine, we were recycling things. Hand-me-down clothes and toys worked well until we passed them along to someone else.  We were crushing cans since I was heavy enough to do so.  When I moved to NY and lived the winter on Long Island, while doing my first internship, I combed the beaches after the weekend, and hauled in enough tossed beer bottles to turn in for $10 to $20 worth of groceries.  Moving to the mountains required new strategies for recycling.

Technically, our solid waste carrier is required to provide recycling services to the region.  That does not mean that they need to make it easy to sort and drop off stuff.  Recycling occurs each Saturday morning, at one of four locations across the two counties that they cover.  The three closest locations to us are each about 30 minutes away.  Unless we have errands to run near those locations, the time and gas money are the first deterrents to extracting glass, metal, plastic, and paper from the trash.

Next, the recycling program is selective regarding what they will take.  Newspaper, magazines, and cardboard boxes are okay.  Tin cans go in, but not aluminum.  Glass can be clear or brown.  So what do you do if you drink beer in green bottles, or just about any type of wine?  Plastic?  Don’t ask.

P1040802Early in our marriage, we travelled to New Orleans and the bayous.  While floating around the cyprus groves, we noticed bottles turned upside down on tree branches.  Our guide explained that these were bottle trees.  This was a tradition, in which bottles were placed such to catch evil spirits.  This sounded quaint.

Subsequently, we came across other sources that confirmed that bottle trees were a Southern tradition.  In addition to bottles being set out on tree branches, some folks put a pole in the ground with nails sticking out of it, on which bottles could be placed.  We played around with this as yard art concept, eventually settling on a set of bottles perched on one of our gates into the forest.  There must be lots of spirits out there.

P1040803A bottle tree is a good place to recycle a couple of six-packs, but fills up too quickly to be a sustained program.  While touring a garden, we came across a walkway lined by bottles mostly buried in ground with the bottoms up.  The staff gave the explanation that this was intended to keep rabbits and other small critters out of the garden because the light reflecting from the glass startled them.  Hmmm.

I put these ideas together, and began lining our fences with wine bottles.  That should catch any spirits slithering along the ground, and distract ground loving animals from noticing our gardens.  I alternate from which side of the fence orient the bottles, such that P1040799their necks face each other.  Whether these are filling up with spirits, I cannot say.

We do still have other types of recyclable materials that we have to find some place to deposit.  Thanks to suburban living friends, we send most of this to their recycle bins.

We are a little worried about our dogs drinking habits, though, as we often find piles of bottles and bones under the fruit trees.  They will not admit to anything.


Bottle Tree at the National Arboritum

Bottle Tree at the National Arboritum


About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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7 Responses to Farm Life: Recycling

  1. Barneysday says:

    We’ve thought of cutting wine bottle in half, and sticking the bottom half in the ground, bottom up, to surround an area we’ve planted in wildflowers. I tried one so far, and although it can be done, I had to wear thick, leather gloves, face shield, and ear protection. Not sure its worth it. Might just bury the whole bottle.

    I’m going to share this post with my better half. She will enjoy it.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      Better halves are always useful sounding boards before trying something a bit eccentric. our fence is not visible from any neighbors (lots of woods in between us and others, so we do not have to worry about neighborhood beautification associations sending warning notices to clean up that pile of junk.

      My long range plan is to build a greenhouse and line a southern wall with the bottles in horizontal lines. I shall fill each half way with water, to moderate the temperature and add mosture to the air. Maybe I will just grown a lot of alge and mold?! I just think of it as Thomas Jefferson with another hair-brain horticultural experiment.

  2. Barneysday says:

    One of your weekly tasks will then become the “filling of the bottles” as the water evaporates. With the sunlight hitting the bottles, I’ll bet there wouldnt be much in the way of mold or algae, because the water would evaporate quickly. Let me know how that all works out!!!

  3. Love your recycling ideas. Have you noticed the bottle fence keeping out small critters? Of course it keeps out spirits – that needs no clarification.

  4. We live in Georgia, and bottle trees are all over the place. We lived in New Orleans as well, and have never heard the story of evil spirits. Lots of superstitious types in the south still hold on to these beliefs. That’s the reason that porch ceilings are painted “haint blue”, to ward off evil spirits. ~James

    • hermitsdoor says:

      The porch ceiling one is new to me. Interesting to travel around and learn about regional beliefs. I’d have the speculator on to guess the origins of these beliefs. Maybe the evil spirits in the bottle goes back to stories like the Arabian Knight story about genies in the lamps… maybe some Voodoo tradition… maybe “spirits” refers more concretely to alcohol, which should be left in the bottle lest one become evil… who knows?
      Thanks for commenting.

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