Waste Not, Want Not

Goats are wasteful with their hay. Despite building “little waste” mangers, the girls still pull out and ignore just as much hay as they eat. Then, though there are piles of hay that they turn into fluffy beds, they insist they are starving. So, as I stood guard over our oldest, Disqua, as everyone ate their granola, I got to thinking about the “waste not, want not” mentality.

Growing up, it was rare to throw out anything that had any hint of life left in it. There were tobacco cans and ice cream pails full of old nails and screws, often bent and rusted. But, they were used to build things outdoors because if money didn’t have to be spent on them, then – why spend it?

These saving tendencies were something I accepted as life and wise, so therefore, I, too, save things. Blue jeans and t-shirts that have reached retirement have been stacked and saved. Any scrap of fabric that could be used for a quilt is put in a bin. There is a large tote of cut-off ends of lumber in the shop. Old rolls of chicken wire, hardware cloth, and spools of electric fencing are saved for the “one day” we may need them.

And, before it is thought that this is a veritable Hoarders Haven, there is a place for everything and everything in its place. And then, one day, you realize that you have to dig into that stack of whatever.

In my case, we’ve been without a rug at our patio door that leads to the grill/outdoor kitchen for over a year and despite my looking for rag rugs that would work, I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money on any of them. The ancient bath mat is also in need of replacement. So, I made denim “yarn” from the blue jeans and “yarn” from the old t-shirts. I have a spool of skinny sisal twine that was no use for tying up firewood bundles and now an idea for a rug for the patio door.

This waste not, want not mentality has been ingrained and often, I pick up new things. The chickens we raise for eggs become two or three meals, and their bones are made into stock which is then made into even more meals. Onion peels, celery ends, herbs on the edge of going bad… they all get thrown into an ice cream pail to be turned into stock later.

Old cardboard egg cartons are saved and turned into fire starters with wood shavings the dregs of old candle wax. There is a compost bucket that gets emptied onto the manure pile which in-turn composts and is then put onto the garden. Zip-close plastic baggies are washed and reused until they have holes or no longer close.

When I bake muffins, cookies, etc., the amounts which are more than can be eaten in a few days are frozen for later. I like casseroles that make 6-10 servings so I can freeze for quick lunches and dinners.

And so, what does this have to do with goats wasting hay?

The fun thing about animals, our livestock and/or pets, is that they live in the moment. With some exceptions, they don’t plan for a future day, but usually they just live in the moment. The goats live on a schedule of breakfast, naps, pasture time, and dinner. They don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from and frankly, they are quite happy about having a squishy, fluffy bed of hay in which to sleep.

In the mind of a human, what we see is waste. We see the hay pulled from the manger and discarded on the ground, peed and pooped on and distasteful. The goats? From their perspective, what they see is as extra padding for their naps and nighttime snoozing.

So, ultimately, this comes down to perspective. Whether it is the perspective of the goats and the hay strewn about or someone walking into my home and seeing a stack of retired blue jeans in the corner awaiting a rebirth as a rug, life is all about perspective.

We all have our perspective on life altered from time to time. What is something on which your perspective has changed?


The Amusing Muse is a writer, student, and crafty person living in Southern Wisconsin. Her “garden porn” magazines have started to arrive, and she is hoping to have a new rug completed for the patio door in time for summer. Her dining room is presently full of flourishing bananas and flowering orchids.


Clipart in blog title image courtesy of ClipArtPanda.com

About The Amusing Muse

Deep thinker whose mind operates at warped speed. Philosopher pondering the big (and little) things in life. Storyteller. Office Ninja. Model. Teller of bad jokes. User of big words.
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2 Responses to Waste Not, Want Not

  1. John says:

    I would need to get myself to be a far-handier individual in order to make any use of abandoned bits of 2×4 or discarded jeans to make yarn.

    But with electronics? I’ll hold onto broken devices because I’m *certain* I’ll be able to resurrect something or “frankenstein” a part from one thing onto another. Broken laptop or desktop? I pull the memory and hard drive. I have a pile of cables that range from audio to video to data transfer, often spanning multiple technological generations — the thing is, when you need one, you need one. . . and those bastards are EXPENSIVE to re-purchase. But then I realize I have a mountain of cables that are just intertwined & there is no easy way to pull out the one you might need.

    So with piles of electronic discard, I find myself constantly considering “will I really need this…”

    As I grow older wiser, I find myself, more & more often, getting rid of things, because I just *know* holding onto things just means I’ll need to get rid of things later, when I feel too “cluttered in”

    • We, too, have electronics around but have gotten much better about taking them for recycling thanks to a yearly e-recycling event. It’s been a hard-won battle of “Are we actually going to use this? Are we going to take the time/spend the money to repair this and if we are, will the cost to repair be more than the cost to buy a new *whatever*?”

      We’ve turned old laptop hard drives into external drives on a home network, so that’s been a good use of old parts.

      As for old cut-off dimensional lumber? Most of the time it gets used for fires in the fire pit.

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