Uncovering the Disorders of a Prospector
In The DIRT!
Uncovering the Disorders of a Prospector
Dominic Ricci – GPAA/LDMA Executive Director of Operations
Photos by: Mackenzie Rechnitzer
Talking dirt about another human being’s problems or disorders is not a pleasant thing to hear.
It has been published that between 2% and 5% of Americans may meet the criteria for being hoarders. Digging deeper into this, panic disorder might affect 1%, and obsessive-compulsive disorder maybe 2%. We’re talking about a surprisingly common disorder that has never really been recognized.
The “disorder” is hoarding. A supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded place for preservation, future use, or just because. I’m convinced that gold prospectors are more in the 70% to 80% range, and possibly higher, that meet the criteria of a hoarder.
This problem has gained wider visibility in recent years, thanks in part to several hoarding-related television shows. Houses you can barely walk through because of so much “stuff.” Lamps, books, magazines, birdcages, food, etc.
How could this be prevalent in the prospecting and mining enthusiasts? After all, we are a “true American ... this country was built on mining” group of people. This is where the DHD (Dirt Hoarding Disorder comes into play.
Let me explain how this DHD affects so many more people than the average person.
Throughout the course of the year, we gold prospectors go out and play in the dirt, in the search for gold. Some travel to other states, and some just a short distance. It doesn’t matter where we go when we prospect, one common occurrence usually happens . . . we bring dirt home!
Buckets of dirt that we didn’t have a chance to classify yet. A bucket or two from a new area that we are testing to see if it’s a place to go back to. Buckets of clean-ups that we didn’t want to waste time in the field doing final panning because we wanted, no, needed to run more dirt.
It doesn’t matter where, but we come home with different “dirt” that we will get to, at a later time, and we store it in the garage, tool shed, side of the house, next to the RV, piling up waiting for us to play with it and see what’s in it.
Hmmmm, a supply or accumulation (buckets of dirt) that is hidden or in a carefully guarded place (in the garage, tool shed, side of the house, next to the RV, etc.), for preservation, future use, or just because. This IS classic DHD at its finest!
It is so easy to say, “I will get to that!” Then the next weekend we are back out gathering and running more material in the hunt for our gold. We see it in the sluice, so we keep running more material. Do a few quick pans, snuffer up a little, but we know there’s more in the dirt and don’t want to waste precious time when again, we can gather more dirt.
Often, I tell people just that, don’t waste time doing final cleanups out in the field. If you know you are on the gold, keep digging and processing so you take the clean-ups (concentrates) home. Then you can do the final at any time.
The cycle doesn’t stop. More buckets start stacking up. The beauty is, our family and friends see a bunch of buckets with dirt. Yuck! What a mess! You and I know different, it’s a safe place that is accumulating a wealth of gold (you hope)! I like to call it my “bullion buckets” cause I know there’s enough to make some bars, after all I worked my butt off for playing in the dirt.
When you are in therapy for DHD, they try to influence you not to bring so many buckets home. Therapists say, “it is not good and healthy to be a pack rat.”
WHAT! We are prospectors and proper prospecting etiquette says, “Pack it in, Pack it out!” So that is what I do, pack in buckets, and pack them out (with some beautiful dirt in each one). I have special buckets. Like Mother Nature that likes to play “Hide and Seek” with gold, whether in a stream, attached to some quartz, in a crevice or trying to blend in on bedrock, my buckets keep the game going by hiding in the bucket. Waiting for me to make time to have a “bucket dirt party” in my garage, or backyard.
Yes, we all say, when I have time one weekend, I’m going to run the buckets and get my gold. I know it’s in them. Or better yet, “When winter comes, and I can’t go prospecting, I’ll do all my cleanups. It will give me something to do.”
Do you log in each bucket so you now where the dirt came from? Of course we ..... it doesn’t matter, we are prospectors and there is plenty more dirt out there to go get more gold out of. Fine! The really orange colored material came from some testing I was doing at the Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association (LDMA) Oconee Camp in South Carolina. Be careful, the orange clay does two things, stains your clothes and will try to rob your gold if you don’t slow down and process it right.
A few of these buckets came from Arizona near LDMA Stanton camp. In the search for a few claims exclusively for LDMA members, these are extra buckets of material that tested very good.
I have a bucket filled with water bottles, that are filled with black sand super concentrates from Nome Alaska (Never waste time doing final clean ups in Alaska. Ship it home and do it later). That’s a rich bucket ... must have a bullion bar or two in that bucket alone. One could only wish.
I have buckets from my local weekend prospecting trips to Barstow, California. Now those should have at least a gram a gold in each. Those were always great day trips meeting up with fellow members, and of course my son Tristan. Boy he made me work hard.
As you can see (photos do confirm it), I have Dirt Hoarding Disorder. I keep saying I’m going to party down the buckets, but life, like it is for most, is busy and time ticks away. What was a bucket or two, soon becomes .... a lot!
In dealing with my DHD, I chose to get my kids involved. Winter time means let’s set up a bucket processing plant right in the garage. It’s a mess already so what is a few more cluttery items?
Today's schools are full of “ology,” so I told the kids forget biology, archology, cinematology, ecology, or psychology ..... let’s learn panology!
We categorized the buckets into; 1) needs to be classified, 2) field run, 3) washer matt, 4) panning (panology), and of course the final, 5) water table clean-up.
My kids are always up to playing with dirt. The equipment got set up and we all got underway. The one thing I was not prepared for was the amount of questions each of my kids were going to be asking, but this did give me the opportunity to try and teach them anything I could.
The garage door was up to let more light in, but it also peaked the interest of a few neighbors. Rex from across the street finally made the walk over to see what was happening. Before I could say anything, my daughter Makenzie (age 11), belted out, “Mr. Rex, we are finding gold! Come see.”
After about 30 minutes, Rex looked at me and said, “I use to make mud pies with dirt at this age (pointing to my kids), but I like this more (smirking). Your daughter said you help people at Dirt Parties? What is that?”
Laughing I explained that the Gold Prospectors Association of America and the Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association host Common Dig Outings which I call Dirt Parties. After neighbor Rex living across from me for two plus years, he will be participating in an Official Dirt Party very soon at LDMA Duisenburg Camp.
There’s good probability that he will soon have not only Gold Fever, but Dirt Hoarder Disorder too!
The best comments came out of my youngest daughter, Maddi (age 7), is this why you go to all your outings? To help others play in the dirt and find gold? Do they find as much as we did today?
At the end of the day, I have more room in my storage shed, stacks of empty buckets, great memories with my kids, AND some bullion bars .... well, the start of one.
Many say it’s hard to admit things, well folks, I’m a gold prospector, and I’m proud to have Dirt Hoarder Disorder.
Hope to see you In-the-Dirt or around a campfire real soon.
Dominic Ricci is the Executive Director of Operations for GPAA/LDMA and can be reached at 800-551-9707, ext. 163, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org