J500 Media and the Environment

About Me: Angela Jones by angelajon

While Oregon is very green (in many ways) growing up in the Willamette Valley on a medium-sized ‘working’ farm was not always fun; in fact I believe it is the reason I ran away and joined the military.

My First Horse and Her Colt; Roxie and Rusty

My First Horse and Her Colt; Roxie and Rusty

As a kid, my summers were filled, from before school let out to late fall, with putting up peaches, apples, apricots, plums, pears, tomatoes, and berries into sauces, jams and jellies. We had 7 chest freezers for any food that was not preserved by canning or drying. We traded apples from our orchard for peaches with the guy up the road. We grew our own blackberries and raspberries; at picking farms we picked blueberries and strawberries. Beans, peas, potatoes, carrots, onions, cucumbers and a full menu of squashes were some of the vegetables we could put up and there were so many more in the garden that we just ate as they matured. We raised our own livestock and chickens. For variety my father would hunt deer, elk, rabbit, raccoon, and we all fished from the local lake. Meat was canned, pickled, jerked, frozen, or made into pâté or sausage. All parts of the animals were used: bone was ground into dust and tilled into the soil, skin was tanned, horns and teeth were used for handy-crafts, and buttons, hoofs, tails, guts, and inedible bits were cooked or steamed down into a meal to feed the pigs, goats or chickens.

My Older Brother, Carl, and His Award Winning Kill

My Older Brother, Carl, and His Award Winning Kill

Firewood finished the summer. As harvesting and storing the garden came to an end, my father would get us up drastically early and drive us into the wooded areas of our land. There we would fell, split, chop and cut cottonwood, oak, and ash. We had a wood room on the side of the house. There we could store over 20 cord of wood. Then we would fill the adjacent field with another 20-25 cord of cut, split, and stacked wood. By spring it would all be gone; we heated solely with wood. The ashes were mixed with the winter collection of manure and tilled back into the soil.

Maybe, in some eyes, this is living naturally, living off the land, recycling the woods (we used downed trees first as the wood was ‘seasoned’, but felled what we required). My father was very conscious about sustaining the woods; we cut and felled responsibly, providing growth room for new saplings. He was very aware that if he cut too much, in the wrong areas, or of the wrong type it would impact our ability to heat the home in upcoming years and could cause land erosion.

However, we had a playground for bored kids; a dirty secret for the family.

Most farmers have the same secret, but in our area, since much of our land was not cleared, and the land of the other farmers was sustaining crops, several of our neighbors would come and add to our shame; we had a dump. Out, alongside the furthermost field, ran a tree infested gully. Our land was flood land and every few years the Willamette River would flood its banks and turn much of our land into a lake. There were lots of gullies, formed by water rushed along under the force of the overflowing river. In this gully my father dumped our waste. We burned what we could, the rest: the glass, metal, old mattresses, and what-not were dumped between the trees into this depression. Neighbors came frequently to ask for a favor, “As long as it don’t stink, and bring in varmints,” was my father’s reply to the request, and the dump grew.

At the end of our quarter mile long drive, our closest neighbor had the same type of dump. Otto Hahn was the only farm equipment repairman for over 100 miles; he was famous, much sought after and damned good at what he did. Out the back door of his work shop went his trash, down a small incline into a low area. Trees had grown over it, brush obscured it from view (for the most part), but it was there. On occasion, instead of playing in our own backyard dump, we played in Otto’s. One day I discovered a clear-glass Pyrex dish, wrapped in baking parchment, held in place by cooking twine, with a treasure inside; a piece of wedding cake with a note giving the date and a wedding blessing. Otto Hahn, widowed less than two years ago, had just married is childhood sweetheart 70 years after they met and 57 years after her mother refused to allow her to marry a farmer. Otto and his first wife, Adelia, had been married over 50 years and this was a piece of their wedding cake.

I gave the Pyrex dish, complete with the treasure it contained, to my mother. She took it to Otto and asked his wishes. He was touched, but felt the cake and its importance in his life had been overcome by events. That dish was the first piece to be put in my hope chest; it is a bread loaf baking dish. My dream for many years was to be a baker. I love to make bread. I use the pan often and always remember the sweet old man who could repair anything.

Today, I consciously avoid yard/garage sales as I tend to ‘discover’ way too many treasures. Being with the military and now the federal government, I have not lived in the same house for more than 3.5 years since 1981. I keep my clutter to a minimum or face the pain of packing and moving all of it every few years. This can be a powerful motivator.

I have traveled extensively all over Europe and lived more of my life in countries where English is not the native tongue than the total number of years I have spent state-side. I bring with me all of the paradigms created in Europe by the lack of space, the need to build up rather than spread out, the drive to maintain standards in densely populated multi-cultural cities. In Germany, Italy and several other European Union nations, recycling is mandatory. My weekly garbage, what did not go in one of the three different recycling bins, could fit in a sandwich bag. Taking my trash out each week was actually a pleasure.

We are not as efficient or regimented in our recycling here in the U.S., but I hope to be part of that change as it happens.


Life is GREAT when there is lots of LOVE.

Angela Jones


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