Tag Archives: Nature

A Litter-ary Opportunity

When I was a kid, my dad would drop my brother and me off at the top of the hill by our house with a couple Jirdon feed bags and have us pick up litter while we were waiting for a cattle truck. We would fill the bags on the way down the hill, picking up everything from pop bottles to diapers.

According to the “Star Herald,” tourism to the Scotts Bluff National Monument in 2022 added $15 million to our local economy and supported 179 local jobs. This number probably overlaps a little with other tourism opportunities like Oregon Trail Days, or the High Plains (Rat Rod) Riot. With local stops on the Nebraska Passport and other promotions throughout Scotts Bluff County, a lot of visitors drive through our area.

Chasing balloons or bikes or ball players brings a lot of families to our community. What nicer way to greet our visitors than with clean roadsides? This would further show off our beautiful landscape for travelers as well as residents.

If you are interested in picking up some litter on your daily walk, you can check out a litter kit from the Gering Library. Each kit contains a bucket, some bags, gloves, a very fashionable safety vest, a scale, and a litter-picker-upper stick. 

If you would like to make a longer term commitment to a cleaner Scotts Bluff County, you can contact Keep Scottsbluff Gering Beautiful (KSGB) and they will set you up with a highway to keep clean. The director, Cassidy Baum, can be reached at 308-632-4649 for more information. KSGB will even pay you to do it!

A group I belong to recently adopted a highway on the edge of town, and we went out to pick up litter last weekend. We walked half of our designated road before we called it a day. Nine volunteers spent three and a half hours picking up over 400 pounds of litter. It had been a while since this stretch of road was cleaned up, and it was a mess. We picked up tires, an entire set of clothing, home decor, drug paraphernalia and an air-pistol, along with hundreds and hundreds of little shooter alcohol bottles. 

On a side note, I did some research and discovered that most of these tiny bottles of “Fireball” sold in gas stations are not actually Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. They are labeled to mislead people into buying a malt liquor beverage rather than the original distilled spirit. Either way, these companies are making a killing and should be ashamed of the behavior of their consumers.

I grew up in the days of Woodsy Owl, who said “Give a hoot – don’t pollute!” I think it was more the experience of dad making us pick up litter than the spokes-owl, but this weekend reinforced my determination to not contribute to garbage in our ditches. I encourage you to take advantage of our litter pick-up kits and keep Scotts Bluff County beautiful.

September Thoughts

October 2007

This must be a good year for toads. We have them all over the place, and the darn things eat mosquitoes, so I hate to step on them, but it is hard to avoid. They are quarter sized on up to prince-kissing size (maybe that was a frog). We probably have nearly one per square foot of lawn, well maybe less than that, but they are everywhere. Maybe we are low on garter snakes…Dad always said the coyote and rabbit populations were dependant on each other. I haven’t seen many snakes this year, but not because I was looking for them either.

I am ashamed to admit it, but we have had 17 extra inches of rain this year, timed pretty well. Our annual rainfall is around 22 or so. I feel bad for the people at the other end of the state with 5 inches so far this year, about half of what their average is. We did not water our lawn this year, until last weekend, and then just a few dry spots under the trees. The rest of it looks pretty healthy, but we aren’t expecting a Golden Spade Award any time soon.

It is a good thing we live in the country, otherwise our neighbors would be calling the city on us for not maintaining our property and causing adjacent property values to decline. We let our lawn get way too tall sometimes, then I have my homemade automatic mulcher, which involves a tarp strap holding the grass shooter up so the grass scatters. When the lawn gets too tall this leaves attractive windrows of dead grass in the lawn. I let it cure for a day or so then mow again, scattering the dry grass further. I have learned that if I don’t fertilize my lawn, I don’t have to mow it as often, same goes with watering. Our garden can become an eye-sore being right along the road and full of 6 foot weeds.

Somewhere in Nebraska there is a line, on the west side of the line, rural people just have a yard that looks ok, not especially nice. East of that line (where we live) rural people haven’t got the memo that they live in the country and they keep their lawns up like town folk do, but probably using stronger chemicals, available only to farmers. Our neighbors water their lawn pretty much every day, and mow it probably twice a week. Sounds like a waste of water and fuel to me, but their lawn looks great.

I lived on a farm in Wyoming where my boss actually ran the swather across my lawn a couple times a year, followed by the bailer. It doesn’t take long to mow when you have a 30 foot wide mower. The bales were pretty small though. We have too many trees for that to work here, otherwise I would be tempted…

Right now I am outside, and one-year-old Tommy has the hose. He is learning all about fluid dynamics, and how to spray himself in the mouth. He is having a blast. He is a mower man as well, climbing up on the lawn tractor every chance he gets. I turned my back the other day then when I looked back, all I could see was the soles of two feet disappearing on the far side of the mower. He has some sort of rolling head-first dismount figgered out, because he was not upset in any way and he landed on the concrete. We better keep it parked on the grass I guess.

I looked out on the deck the other day, and there was Ariel the Mermaid sunbathing in the nude. It seems her natural pigmentation would preclude such behavior. When Sarah went out to get her, she wasn’t even burned. Now I am jealous. Most of my ancestors came from England, so I didn’t develop the tanning gene. I don’t do much of anything, unless I burn, so I stay out of the sun. I guess it is probably safer that way. My husband never burns, he just gets darker and darker. Someday we will probably be visiting a dermatologist as a result of this, but he isn’t worried.

Tommy moves so fast these days, the other day he disappeared. He decided to walk around the corner of the house, and down the driveway to greet Daddy returning home from work in his huge pickup. We need to put a little fence thing in that part of the yard. He doesn’t come to his name yet, so if he wanders, you have to go searching. We have asked the county to put a Slow Children sign in front of our house, but they are not in a hurry to do that. Even if people don’t slow down, maybe they will keep an eye out, if only because they think my kids are slow.