The Firesmith Landfill and Toad Farm

It was back in January, and January in South Georgia can be pretty warm compared with the rest of the country, when I decided to stop throwing paper away.  Someone had given me a stack of old magazines, and as I was about to thrown them into the dumpster, and by that I mean that two wheeled green cart used for garbage pick-up these days, and I wondered what would happen to the magazines.


The idea hadn’t totally gelled, but I took two or three of them and buried them under a light coating of leaves in the back acre.  The rest I put in a neat stack and put a pile of leaves on top of them, too. I wondered how long it would take them to return to the earth, and then I started thinking about the rest of the paper too. My fireplace was littered with paper towels. It was far too warm for a fire but I would throw all my used paper towel into the fireplace so I could use them to start the next blaze. They were really beginning to pile up in there. Slowly, the idea of my own private landfill began to form.


Have you any idea at all how much paper you use at home in a week? Think of all the recipes, the cardboard boxes used for food packaging, and best of all, all those junk snail mails you get. I bought a little trash can with a lid and began putting all the paper products in there, as well as stuff from the kitchen. In went the coffee grinds, the egg shells, and the bits and pieces of veggies cut up to make supper.  And of course all the mutt fur that the dogs shed went in, too.  Since January I’ve put everything that will decompose in Firesmith’s Landfill. The results might just surprise you.


The most surprising result is the pile isn’t getting much bigger than it was when I began. I started out by throwing the decomposable into a pile, throwing some leaves and stuff on top of them, and then watering it down with a hose. I use a pitchfork to mix things up a bit, and will dig down to get the stuff at the bottom back to the top, and the stuff at the top goes down to the bottom. I can still tell pieces of a box were once this or that, but it has slowly and surely made its way back to the earth again.


I also put pieces of rotting logs around the edges, and it’s the edges where my experimental labs are. I don’t drink real milk, but buy soy milk in half gallon containers. When I’m done with them, I’ll fill them up with organic material, and then add water. The waxed outside of these containers keep them from decomposing quickly, but filled with material that’s decomposing they soon reach a point where they just collapse and begin to rot away, too.  All of this started about the time I bought an oven hood. I put half the huge box inside the pile and half out. The half on the inside of the pile has been eaten, and the half outside still remains.


On today’s menu was the cardboard carton two and a half dozen eggs come in, a soy milk container, a couple of cardboard boxes food stuff came in, some eggs shells, a couple of  cardboard rolls from paper towels and toilet paper, coffee grinds, used paper towels, mutt fur, and an old pair of jeans.  I dug out a place for them in the pile, and I noticed that there was a swarm of tiny toads rushing not away from my digging, but towards it. The tiny toads have learned when I dig into the pile it disturbs the termites living within. The tiny toads get a free meal, and all they have to do is avoid being buried alive.  The termites eat the cardboard and the paper, and all they have to do is avoid being eaten by the toads. There are beetles and wormy looking grubs within, too. Since it’s dry as hell everywhere else, and I water the pile at least once a week or so, this has become an oasis for those critters looking for stuff underground, and moisture, too.

  Digging into the pile I unearth partially decomposed stuff from the last digging, and the time before that.  But since January, the pile has reached a sort of critical mass, when decomposition keeps up with what I throw out.  I spend about an hour a week working on this thing, and I haven’t thrown away a piece of paper, cardboard, or cloth, in six months.


Take Care,


Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 6/10/2008 6:31:46 PM
That's an odd compliment.....I think.

danicpa68   danicpa68 wrote
on 6/10/2008 5:13:05 PM
I didn't figure you for a compost kinda guy. Very cool.

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 6/5/2008 7:54:17 PM
Moqui, How odd we forget the things that we know as kids. We know this stuff, but as we grow older we grow apart from truth.

Moqui_Takoda   Moqui_Takoda wrote
on 6/5/2008 6:58:18 PM
this is fascinating. I noticed when I was a kid if you put different things into jars that were not air tight, the contents, like cabbage or an apple peel or a dead bug covered with fuzzy stuff and liquified or dried up a lot faster than if you made the container airtight. I noticed that plants react differently than bugs and other things that crawl ... probably just like larger things that do the same ... anyhow, they dry up, the others liquify and the fibers float on the top and the bottom is a clear water ... that's clearly dependent upon whether it is full of water to begin with ... i also noticed that the mass, water, fuzz and original stuff remained about the same and weighed about the same, but ... they were more easily turned into a substance that plants and dirt liked. I think this meant they became composed of simpler and simpler molecules or that the components separated and became more elemental and easier for the earth to take back in. See, you got me thinking. I know I used to never throw a twig or blade of grass our a weed, except perhaps the really bad ones like bind weed out ... and our leaves stayed there on the property, dug into the ground in the spring when they were brown and ready to go there. We had worms, ladybugs, song birds, bees and our flowers and vegetables did just fine. No pesticides or fertilizers. In other words, our gardens and lawns fed each other. :) cool

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 6/5/2008 11:46:48 AM
Thank you, I have my moments.

Mike Firesmith
Special Interest
Outdoors and enviornment
writing Mike Firesmith
I write
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Garbage in, Toads out.