A Cowboy’s Faith: Ridding trash cleans life

buchmanhead“Get rid of that junk, and get those messes cleaned up.”

Mom said that when we were still in high school, as she put us and another grocery store employee to work cleaning out the basement under the store.

In those days, soda pop came in returnable glass bottles, worth 2 cents apiece, and we stored the empties in the basement until the “pop man” picked them up weekly. Compressors for a half dozen coolers were under the store, too.

But, there was a vast collection of “junk” from the early part of the previous century – bottles, jugs, wooden crates, cardboard, signs of sort. See, the store was two buildings combined; one side had been a drugstore with a soda counter. So, considerable remains from that business were strewn around, too.

Seemed like months, but was probably only a few days, yet along with Joe, we hauled all that “stuff” up rickety stairs to Dad’s pickup and to the city dump.

Despite clearing debris, that low ceiling basement remained dingy, few light bulbs, dusty dirt floor, and sidewalk grates that let in a bit of light, until they were cemented over about ’68.

Now, we’ve been working to clean up the junk around the ranch, and it’s actually a much bigger deal than what we thought our teenage chore required.

Owning a place four decades allows considerable accumulation, and deterioration if there isn’t constant upkeep effort. That’s the way it’s been with “the Allen place,” 10 miles down the gravel road, with old homestead, but revamped cattle corrals, where heifers are developed, and first calf pairs, kept till grass time.

Five structures have blown down or deteriorated unusable, and they’ve been hauled away, while the chicken house has been cobbled, along with what has been considered one of the biggest hay sheds around.

The two-story home, with tin roof, new fancy silver-framed storm windows four decades ago, hasn’t been lived in for probably 30 years, and it is being torn down in short order, hopefully.

Most important of all, a new water system is being installed. Intent is to have everything in order before the first snow.

Reminds us of Second Kings 23:24: “He scrubbed the place clean and trashed all of the vast accumulation of foul relics.”  So, Matthew 3:11: “There’s a clean sweep of life.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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