I have always had great respect for garbage. The piece of furniture I have had longest and has gone with me every time I have moved is an old stereo cabinet my dad pulled from the dump south of Melrose, Minnesota, when I was a kid. It has been refinished once by him and once by my husband – and I love it. In size and sturdiness, it is perfect for holding games inside and heavy lamps or knickknacks on top.
My husband, Mark, is a respecter of garbage as well. When he was growing up on his family’s dairy farm, he, his brother, Greg, and the Goodin boys down the road would race on their bicycles to the dump in Dayton, Minnesota, to retrieve old bicycle parts. Then, they would reconfigure their bikes, using the parts to soup them up or make pedaled works of art. They even named their group the Dump Diggers.
When I married Mark and moved to his family’s farm, I soon learned some townsfolk think of rural farming areas as places to dump things, both of the living and the nonliving variety.
Since our farm was located near a spreading suburbia, people often dumped tires, couches, appliances and mattresses along the gravel roads around our farm and fields. I suppose some dumpers thought because farmers have equipment to move their garbage and land to store it, maybe they wouldn’t mind taking care of a little extra refuse. Others probably didn’t even give dumping a second thought.  
The strangest dumped things were of the living kind in the form of pets no longer wanted. Various animals, often clearly former house pets, appeared from time to time. This was sometimes good and sometimes bad, for both farmer and animal. The animals lacked collars but had clean coats, clues they were most likely dumped off. No one ever came looking for them or posted signs with their photographs.
A dog that appeared one day from a probable drive-by received the name Rex or Ricky – Mark can’t remember which – and it had a keen sense of herding. Grateful for a second chance and liking the farm, he enthusiastically kept alert, ready to help move cows whenever needed. However, after a few weeks, he disappeared into the night.
Another dumped dog that wasn’t given a name and didn’t deserve one passed the time getting into the steer pen and chasing the steers around, upsetting them. Let’s just say he suffered an untimely end.
Snoopy, a cat named by my nephew because of its coloring being similar to the Peanuts character, was a jolly, purring dump-off who loved to be scratched behind the ears, unlike some of the inbred farm cats that were wary of most people. The farm cats all had patchy black and white fur and looked perpetually startled, but they were sly survivors. We called them the checkered kitties, naming none individually.
Poor Snoopy, however, suffered from farm inexperience. One day he walked over to me and revealed that half of his tail had been recently chopped off. My husband said it had happened in the silage blower fan, which began to turn while Snoopy was snooping in it. Mark had heard the shrieked meow and had seen the bloody aftermath.
Snoopy’s feelings quickly recovered. He didn’t seem too bothered by his new look. Afterall, now he matched a few of his also-dumped peers who had suffered similar cosmetic surgeries. The farm-born cats, taught by their mothers who were taught by their mothers, never seemed to lose body parts.
Our farm itself had a dump pile, hidden at the bottom of a steep hill. One day Mark and I strolled there for a look down history lane. Sitting between tractor parts, busted crates and other rusted farm items was a 1957 Chevy Mark’s uncle had wrecked back in the day. It still looked pretty cool. When we peaked in a doorless dishwasher, Snoopy was taking a nap in it, his stub tail sticking up behind him.
When the Lefebvre family sold the farm, we said goodbye to the dump pile, but that didn’t end my love of garbage.
Recently, Mark and I sold our home and the 11 acres we had lived on since we moved from the farm so many years ago. Our twins, Emma and Jackson, were 5 years old then. Now, they are 25.
Mark and I joke that we have become minimalists, getting rid of almost everything and moving to an apartment in downtown St. Joseph, Minnesota.  
My stereo cabinet made the cut and came with us. It now holds our television.
In St. Joseph, the businesses around us all have huge outside garbage bins, but don’t worry; I’m not tempted. I love a good city dump, but I am not a dumpster diver.