I dropped in on my sister at the family farm yesterday, which means my 3 boys who can't-live-without-me-for-very-long eventually showed up and we had an impromptu summer gathering. It rained off and on and the gaggle of kids got a kick out of running in the rain and then leaping into a pile of feed corn. This is the farm version of tar and feathers - rain and corn dust - and they looked a sight.
Photo: The rain-and-corn cousins, after a water fight that involved very large buckets
We adults ambled over to be sure the younger ones weren't going to gore themselves on a corn auger or something, when I saw an enormous pile of... mulch... or dirt... or something...
What's that? I asked my brother-in-law, Mulch?
No, that's chicken sh*t, he said. (Actually, I think he said chicken manure, but I'm always looking for a good excuse to cuss.)
Chicken sh*it?! This wasn't a pile, people, this was a mountain. A mountain of poo. Gives a touch of relevancy to the old saying "King Sh*t of Turd Mountain" - which was one of our favorite sayings growing up. (Hey, we were country kids with only 2 tv stations. We were slightly out of touch with coolness.)
My sister and Marcel raise organic chickens on the family farm, but it was news to me that 60 chickens can poop THAT much. I started asking all the wrong questions, assuming the poo was from their flock. I know poo has to set for a long while before it can be used as fertilizer. It's too hot right out of the ol' butthole (sorry - couldn't resist). It has to break down, compost, cool off, and then it can be spread on the fields. They'd cleaned out the barn not too long ago and I was surprised to hear they could use the poop already.
When it finally became clear it wasn't poop from their chickens, I asked where it came from.
If that doesn't give a whole new meaning to online shopping, I don't know what does. The ol' "you can get anything on ebay!" excitement probably doesn't lead one to think "even chicken sh*t!" I'm thinking we've got the makings of a Dirty Jobs episode right here in the cornfields.
The organic poo is one of many requirements to gain organic certification for the hay fields, the first transition for the family farm from conventional farming. Marcel said someone would come and spread the poo tomorrow. Which is today. You get that? Cuz I'm typing this the next day? (Try to keep up with my inarticulate meanderings.)
So this morning I left for my bike ride, the first one since the dog bite incident a few days ago. (Another Hollywood opportunity perhaps?) I now have to ride 3 miles to get to my one-mile-away mom's house unless I'm willing to let Fido get another chance to taste my ankle bone. (I really, really hope she didn't like the taste of me.) After a cup of coffee and a chat with mum, we heard a huge roaring, rumbling engine and walked outside to see the most enormous chicken sh*t spreader in the industrial world. Seriously, I bet the driver carries a ladder to get in the thing. This baby was BIG. Like, freight-train-big. It makes our farm tractor look like a riding lawnmower and our Toyota Prius hybrid look like a Happy Meal Toy. I'll bet my nephew - who adores big trucks - woulda hyperventilated and peed himself at the sight of it.
It started to spread its load of chicken shat. But the dried chicken poo went everywhere. A veritable mushroom cloud of chicken dung released into the air like a bad sneeze, and you couldn't even see the 8-gazillion horsepower spreader for the blanket of chicken poo-spew behind it. My mom suggested I take off for home before the entire countryside became engulfed in the stuff, so I kicked 'er into high gear and set off on my bike. (There were 4 different synonyms for sh*t used in that paragraph. Impressed?)
The first whiff made my brain scream Stinky Socks! Ew-ew-ew! It smells like month-old stinky socks! But then, after another snoutful of the stuff, reality kicked in. I'm inhaling chicken sh*t! Oh dear Lord it's up my nose! Oh dear God it's in my lungs! I was like Lucy from Peanuts, who wailed, "My lips touched dog lips!"... except my lips were touching, um, the wrong end of the animal, if you will. Ew-ew-ew-EW.
I tried to hold my breath. I tried to cover my mouth and nose with one hand and still pump up the hill. I sputtered and choked and convulsed and after I finally got through the haze and calmed my gag reflex, I laughed....
You have GOT to be kidding me. I just biked 1/4 mile through a dense rain of chicken dung.
Photo: The sort of bath I needed after today's bike ride
I wonder what'll happen on tomorrow's bike ride?