Modern Day Horse Drawn Trash Service

horses & trailer

Would you like to hear the clip-clop of horse’s hooves on your street every week? That’s what people living in Bristol, Vermont hear every Friday – on garbage day.

Seventeen years ago, Patrick Palmer of Thornapple Farm was awarded the town’s contract for trash and recycling pickup. He and his team of horses have been doing it ever since.

1. In what year did Patrick and his horses take responsibility for the town’s trash pickup?

Palmer started the horse-drawn rubbish business to supplement the other work his four draft horses do at the 55-acre farm. In winter, the horses also pull sleighs. In summer, they are hitched up to hay wagons and wedding carriages.

4:30 24 hr clock

Wake up, it’s time to feed the horses!

Fridays start early for Patrick and his horses. The clock to the left shows what time Patrick gets up. The horses need a good breakfast to start their workday. They are fed their grain and hay and given plenty of water.

2. What time does Patrick get up to feed his horses breakfast? Include a.m. or p.m. in your answer.

After breakfast, Patrick trailers the horses to a Bristol parking lot where he keeps the large green cart they will pull.

horse-drawn garbage trailerThe cart weighs about 2,900 pounds empty and 6,000 when piled high with recyclables (clear bags) and trash (the dark bags.)

3. What is the weight of the trash when the cart is full?

The horses themselves weigh 1,800 pounds each and can haul 10 times their combined weight for short periods and lighter loads for longer periods.

horse drawn

View from the driver’s seat.

4. How much do both horses weigh altogether? Show two ways you can calculate the answer.

5. If the horses were required to pull 10 times their weight, how heavy a load would they be pulling? Write the number in word form. 

The nine-mile, horsepowered route in Bristol has 250 customers. It takes four hours. Palmer reckons he saves 11 to 12 gallons of fuel each Friday by using horsepower. With all the stopping and starting of big garbage trucks, Palmer thinks the trucks must only get about a mile for each gallon of gasoline, making Patrick’s horsepowered service more environmentally friendly in more ways than one!

horse-drawn trash collection

Each Friday, Patrick and his team collect between 120 to 150 bags of trash. They are paid $5 per bag.

6. What is the most Patrick’s team earns each week?

7. What is the least amount they earn in a week?

8. Assuming the team picks up 130 bags each Friday in March, how much money will they make for the month? 

9. Assuming they collect 135 bags each Friday in May, how much money will they make for the month? 

Do you know of any places using horsepower today? Leave a comment in the box below and tell us about it! Maybe we can contact them and create a new post for HLM!

Click here to watch a great video of Patrick and his team on a typical day.

Common Core:
3.OA.A.1 – Interpret products of whole numbers; Relate addition and multiplication
4.OA.A.2 – Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division word problems
4.OA.A.3 – Solve multistep word problems posed with whole numbers and having whole-number answers using the four operations; Multi-step word problems
4.NBT.B.5 – Multiply numbers ending in zeroes; Multiply 1-digit numbers by 3-digit or 4-digit numbers

Screen shots from video

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2 Responses to “Modern Day Horse Drawn Trash Service”

  1. HLM
    April 23, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    Now they’ve taken on the trash and recycling services in Middlebury, VT too!

  2. HLM
    February 29, 2016 at 11:11 am #

    I came across this charming video about Pat, his horses, and the service they provide in Bristol. Enjoy!

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