By Montana Grant

Posted: August 8, 2021

Years ago, I visited Grant, Montana, near Dillon. A small school and a few houses were next to a huge junkyard of farm equipment. At least this yard was full of useful spare parts and historical equipment. It looked like most Junk Yards, like a farm equipment Elephant Graveyard.

Montana has become covered in Huge Junk Yards, but not like what we are used to. We are covering our Big Sky Country in massive Storage Unit complexes. Every community knows what I am talking about. They are either large lots full of RV, s, Boats, and recreational units, or garages with row after row of storage containers.

One of my friends brags about his collection of old vintage trucks and cars stored in fields across several counties. If he started restoring these rigs tomorrow, he would never finish this job in this lifetime. How many baby dolls, fishing rods, old bottles, old tools, etc. are enough?

Hoarders are taking over Big Sky Country. Montanans seem to have forgotten how to throw anything away. We have also accumulated so many toys, and stuff, that we do not have enough room in our homes. If there is a garage on our homesite, it is full to the max.

Now I know that the Storage Unit businesses do not want to hear what I am saying. They are using land to make a quick buck, with virtually zero overhead. The units pay for themselves in short order. Only some security is required to keep hoarders from suing if someone else takes their Stuff.

There are many reasons for the boom in storage facilities. Montanans have seasonal stuff. They have winter gear, fishing gear, camping gear, hunting gear, and stuff for whatever just in case season. Extra cars need extra space. Motorcycles, ATV’s, wheelers, bikes, sleds, vintage rides, you name it, we store it.

Having enough Stuff is important. Other storage units are full of furniture and stuff that came along with the move to Montana. More Stuff is needed when seasonal visitors come for ski season, or … No longer do people feel the need to just make do or have just enough. We have become a country where MORE is MORE! Its not what we have it is how much MORE do we have. That is what sets us apart.

Imagine how the original Pioneers survived with just a small pushcart or wagon of everything they needed. Native peoples drug their life’s belongings on a horse pulled Travois. A mountain Man could live high on the hog with a pack horse or mule, and personal carry possible. They may have cached a few things around their stomping grounds but less was more.

For generations, we had just enough. No more, no less. Once we had our own homes and farms, nothing was thrown out. You can see farms where every piece of equipment, trucks, and cars are still around, just in case.

Modern Campers prove my point. Todays RV’s have slide out rooms, interior space for other toys, a third hitch to pull the boat. Oh, and don’t forget the other Stuff like bikes, furniture, and More. So much for roughing it!

How many toys do we really need? Montana has a small window for boating and camping. We all have big aspirations to camp, fish, hunt, but the weather often determines if, and when, we can. How Big is Big enough? 20–35-foot-long Toy hauling, luxury monsters are followed by RV Buses towing more SUV’s or toys.

 Heck I spent whole summers camping in a pup tent, or tarped shelter, when I went to Boy Scout camp. Everything we needed was in our backpack. If it was too much, too heavy, bulky, or a luxury item, it stayed home. We comfortably survived and loved the outdoors without AC, heaters, soft chairs, TVs, and…

After a couple of cross country moves, its amazing how MORE STUFF quickly becomes less stuff. I remember the movies about the western migration of wagon trains. The trails were covered with thrown away Stuff that was too much. Only so much will fit into a U-Haul when urbanites move to the country.

Parking lots and construction creates impervious surfaces. This means that water can’t soak into the ground to replenish our water tables. Instead, it is flushed and ditched into other areas where it floods or erodes. Large storage subdivisions, and development, remove porous soils from our ecosystem.

I guess we have forgotten how to get by with less. We now need MORE! Maybe the Stuff will be worth More than it used to be. If we have an apocalypse, More Stuff may come in handy. One day we may pass More Stuff down to our friends and family. Perhaps the Pawn Stars or ———– road trip show buyers will stop by and take some of your best Stuff off your hands. It is funny how when they show up, the owner will not sell, even when they are near the end of their trail.

What happens to all the Old Hoarded Stuff when the owner dies? We have all seen the dumpsters full of old trophy mounts, junk, and gear. Our local sporting stores are full of donated memories. Gun collections get sold at auction for pennies on the dollar. Old fishing rods and gear get donated to kids or end up as decorations.

After storing More Stuff in storage units, ultimately it ends up in the dump. Old boxes, memories, stereo components, used furniture, and stuff that may come in handy one day, never comes in handy in their lifetime. So, you pay to store stuff that loses value, and eventually becomes trash?

 I wonder what the costs are. After spending thousands on the storage units, is the Stuff inside even worth it? People just get used to the monthly bill. That fee for parking your old boat or RV in a field, where the weather and sunlight ages and destroys them … is it even worth it?

Maybe we need to scale down. MORE STUFF is not the answer to More happiness. First, why are you storing More Stuff? Is the Stuff worth the storage cost. Each month of fees is another dollar off the value of the Stuff. Now More has become Less.

Be Charitable. Find a home for your hoarded Stuff. If you can’t, recycle it or take it to the dump. Stuff is only useful if it is being used. Imagine giving a young kid some great fishing gear, an old shotgun, their first boat, or a truck to rebuild. Maybe that new family needs a dining room table, furniture, or some homewares to start their life. That old Stuff has More value to them than to you. Perhaps a neighbor needs a mower, farm equipment, or some gear to survive.

It’s called sharing! Finding folks that can enjoy and appreciate your Old Stuff would be great fun. You would sleep well at night knowing that you helped others. Montana does not need more Storage Units and fields of old RV’s boats, and vehicles. We need more sharing! Big Sky Country is more about Big Heart Country.

Do not let a lifetime of Stuff crush the life out of you, while wasting real estate for a junkyard.

Montana Grant

New Podcast!

Riley's Meats - Butte Wild Game Processing