The tale of glass bottles, tractor tires and one angry farm girl
Last week, I walked up and down the side of the road, getting continuous honks, beeps, waves and even a few semi toots.
Was it my suave fashion sense eliciting all those noises? I doubt it; my rubber muck boots, shorts and dirty T-shirt were hardly a fashion statement.
Could it have been my smiling personality? I doubt that even more because, the frown on my face was pretty menacing.
So at this point, you may ask, why was I pacing the side of the road with a frown on my face? The answer is trash, or more appropriately, litter tossed out of car windows that ends up in my fields.
Besides being unattractive, litter actually can cause damage. If that plastic bag that just happens to blow out of the car window and land in the bean row and on top of my plants, well those 10 little beans plants suffocate, die, and we lose money.
Aluminum cans, especially beer cans, (public service announcement here: please do not drink and drive, ever) somehow end up in our fields all the time. These cans have a tendency to get caught in machinery, causing us a lot of headaches as we try to repair the damage.
However, my biggest pet peeve and problem are glass bottles. See, when that glass bottles goes flying out a car window, it does not remain intact. It shatters into large, razor-sharp pieces, and those pieces lie in my field. Well brown glass, green glass and clear glass (once again, please don’t drink and drive) blend into the dirt and these large shards can cause thousands of dollars in damage to tractor tires, four-wheeler tires and feet.
Tractor tires are not cheap, and granted, most tires are not cheap, but a new tire can cost anywhere from $225 to $1,600 or more, depending upon the type of tire needed.
In addition to the cost of the actual tire, replacing a tractor tire / combine tire / or four-wheeler tire is a time-consuming and potentially dangerous job. See, unlike cars, we cannot just take our tractor down to the local Midas store and ask them to fix our tire. Either we have to be able to do it ourselves or we have to call one of the two companies around here that have the service technicians who know how to change tractor tires.
While the companies try to be prompt, their services are in high demand and a wait is normally inevitable. In farm life, waiting means delays and delays can hurt the success of our crop.
In addition to the time, cost, and trouble that can arise from tossing litter into a field, it also comes down to a vanity issue. We work hard to keep our farm beautiful and we take pride in what we do; we want people to drive by and admire the beautiful rows of beans, not see the garbage bags, aluminum cans and broken glass bottles littering the rows.
I would never think about driving by your yard and tossing my garbage out on your lawn, so please have the same courtesy and do not pollute my fields. I know that no one is around to see you do it and an empty field seems like an ideal place to lighten your load, but please reconsider, and save it for the trash can.
And maybe next time, I’ll be smiling while out standing in my field.
Clemson is a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau and working on her Ph.D. at the Pennsylvania State University. She and her family farm in Mecca.