My Life is Crap

BM, crap, defecation, discharge, dung, excrement, excretion, fecal matter, feces, go to the bathroom, have a dump, manure, number two, poop, shit, stool or waste.  Call it what you will, thinking about it seems to occupy a major part of my day since moving to Crockern Farm.

Sheep and chickens

Early days with sheep in the garden.

First, there are the sheep.  They’ve found their way into our yard through every neglected bit of dry stone wall.  We lift the stones onto the wall, the sheep come back and knock them down.  We lift more stones into place, but the sheep return.  The thing about sheep is that they look so cute, and with their little lambs, they are indeed cute.  But, they poop everywhere.  They poop when you try to chase them out of the yard.  They poop while staring at you.  They poop while they are eating.  They poop while walking, milking their young, and yes, while climbing over the walls.  It must be an amazing thing to never be constipated.

And with that much poop, you just can’t help but step in it from time to time.

Birds of course can poop while they fly.  Flying would be a great skill to have, and I’ve often wondered if I were a super hero, would I want to be able to fly or to go through walls?  I think that being a shape shifter might be the most flexible super hero trait as I could become a bird (fly); ooze (go through walls); or a forklift (pick up the big stones and repair these walls more easily).

Many people believe being tagged by bird droppings is good luck. Although it is yucky, we take comfort in the fact that good luck or wealth is just around the corner.  We currently have some twenty-four nests of House Martins and Swallows.  They poop from their nests and it was a small learning curve knowing where to park the car to avoid their droppings.  Despite the proclaimed good luck, keeping the paint on the car is preferable.  The same learning curve taught us where to place things in the barn.

Sam poops and Roger and I discuss it.  We discuss the quantity, frequency and yes, quality.  It is a means to monitor Sam’s well-being.   This is certainly a common tendency as I have heard parents discuss their children’s fecal production, too.

When I lived in a city, having a dog meant that you necessarily had to become blasé about poop.  You had to scoop the poop or pay a fine.  Sometimes, caught short-handed by not having a poo-bag, the fine was a non-dog person spotting me as I rummaged around a garbage bin for some old newspaper or a bag to use.  Many years ago, I had a dog who would carry the newspaper in his mouth until he needed to relieve himself.  I would take the paper from him, he would assume his position, and then take aim on the photos of politicians who I was unhappy with in the news.  There was satisfaction with that daily political statement.

One of the worst poops is that of the fox.  I don’t think I could identify fox scat on a path, but I know that my boy-dog Sam can find it anywhere.  And when found, nothing brings him greater joy than dropping down shoulder first and rolling with all four legs up in the air.  The smell is not at all something you want in the house.  A quick jump in the river doesn’t get rid of that stench from any dog.  Soap, water, and a good scrub is the only solution.

Cows are similar to sheep since they too seem to chew and poop at the same time and can also walk and poop.  Horses do the same, even during the Olympic Equestrian competitions.  I hadn’t thought about this topic much until my garden became nature’s toilet.

Future vegetable garden

Location of future vegetable garden.

Future vegetable garden

Complete with Stinging Nettles

We’ve made some small progress on preventing the sheep coming into the garden.  We had two wooden farm gates made and hung them where iron gate hooks remained in the granite.  This has kept the sheep out of the garden area where we intend to put in raised vegetable beds.  We’ve pulled nettles, started to build a small wind barrier with stones, and have researched the best way to have a raised bed on highly acidic soil.  I found a site on the Internet where small holders write of their experiences.  I posted my question regarding gardening on such rocky and acidic soil.  A man in Wales posted back his suggestion:  Raised beds should be 3 feet high, the first third filled with, wait for it, well-rotted manure.  In other words, more poop!

Future vegetable garden

Some progress….mostly nettle free and the wind barrier coming along.

Dartmoor

Glad this old hook was here….much easier than drilling into the granite.

Crockern Farm

One of the two spots for the new gates.

We don’t think we are going to build such high raised beds, but will be putting in some of that well-rotted manure.  Having spent weeks trying to get away from all of this poop, I am back into looking for some quality stuff.  How do you go about finding a poop dealer?  Maybe I will take the wheelbarrow out and start collecting locally as it is freely available.  That certainly trumps heading over to a local stable, paying for “well rotted manure” and then loading the stinking mess into the back of the car.

In anticipation of the vegetable garden, we’ve built our compost bins and read up on brown waste, green waste, turning the compost, watering it, keeping the rats out, and all the important bits of creating quality compost.  It turns out, one of the great things for compost is chicken poop which we have in abundance!

Crockern Farm

One of the new gates in place and doing its job.

Just yesterday I was looking for the chickens to see what they were up to and whether they had laid any eggs.  Two were missing and my heart sank, fearing that another fox had cheated and snatched them mid-day.  Suddenly, two heads popped up from the compost.  The hens were poking around, finding worms, and I’m hoping, pooping right on the spot.  I’d like to think I’ve trained them to do this.

When we bought Crockern Farm, there was a casual mention that the septic tank needed to be emptied.  We had been warned to not use the previous septic tank cleaner.   We called around and found our “honey dipper”.  For many, a honey dipper is a wooden tool used for taking honey from the jar and putting it into a cup of tea.  In the US, someone who empties a septic tank is also known as a honey dipper.  There is no mistaking our honey dipper as a serious woman.   She is strong and you just wouldn’t describer her as small.  As we sat around our kitchen table having a cup of tea, we learned that she was the first woman in the county during the 70’s to be part of the volunteer fire department.  This was in the day when you had to carry a person up a ladder as part of your training.  Looking at her arms, I have every confidence that she accomplished this with ease.

She emptied the tank quickly and without incident, the job was done and the price was fair.  When asked, “How did it look?”  She replied, “That tank was long over due for being emptied.”   We happily paid for her work.  As our honey dipper drove away, Roger and I looked at one another knowing that we had just paid for someone else’s crap.

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13 comments on “My Life is Crap

  1. Jack says:

    Your posting reminded me a lot of a favorite old poem by Maxine Kumin, “The Excrement Poem”. Tried to include a link to it here, but it doesn’t seem to let me do that. Google it–I think you will enjoy… 🙂

  2. Annette says:

    One of my few bits of nature-lore: vegetarian-produced poop smells FAR NICER than that produced by carnivores. Sheep, horses, cows, quite nice when you get used to it. Dogs, foxes, humans… I don’t want to know. In medieval cities all night-soil was collected to enrich the veg. gardens of the rich. Welcome to it, I’d say

  3. ann dawney says:

    Merde alors!

  4. Fiona says:

    “Holy Shit!!”

  5. Alyssa says:

    This is hilarious, thank you for the smile on my face!

  6. Amanda says:

    You’ll have to borrow Oscar. He can sniff it out anytime, anywhere. You’d have to be quick though, ‘cos he loves to eat it. At least you haven’t gone that far….

  7. Chris Brown says:

    Need a refill??

  8. Mike Paredes says:

    Funny!!! Nance and I had a new “honey dipper” (you have introduced the term) empty our tank a few years ago. The first time he came over, I kid you not, he pried the top off and looked in and said, with NO IRONY whatsoever, “HOOOO-LEY SHIT!” We had waited a little long. This was a masculine-type honey dipper and he proceeded to tell me all about how his father didn’t show him any love, and how his father-in-law did. Sensitive guy. Not ironic, but sensitive. He also told us how his work resulted in a divorce. While “dipping” at a house , with the husband watching, he found evidence that this guy’s wife was cheating on him. Let’s just say he had been snipped and had no reason to use what was found. Sorry, this is getting gross, but you brought it up! So to wrap up my comments on your excellent post: HOOO-LEY SHIT!”

  9. Joanne says:

    In case you are curious about the poem Jack was referring to earlier.

    “The Excrement Poem” by Maxine Kumin (1978)

    It is done by us all, as God disposes, from
    the least cast of worm to what must have been
    in the case of the brontosaur, say, spoor
    of considerable heft, something awesome.

    We eat, we evacuate, survivors that we are.
    I think these things each morning with shovel
    and rake, drawing the risen brown buns
    toward me, fresh from the horse oven, as it were,

    or culling the alfalfa-green ones, expelled
    in a state of ooze, through the sawdust bed
    to take a serviceable form, as putty does,
    so as to lift out entire from the stall.

    And wheeling to it, storming up the slope,
    I think of the angle of repose the manure
    pile assumes, how sparrows come to pick
    the redilvered grain, how inky-cap

    coprinus mushrooms spring up in a downpour.
    I think of what drops from us and must then
    be moved to make way for the next and next.
    However much we stain the world, spatter

    it with our leavings, make stenches, defile
    the great formal oceans with what leaks down,
    trundling off today’s last barrowful,
    I honor shit for saying: We go on.

  10. Anat says:

    Holy Chara! If you want help pronouncing ..call me.
    Reminds me of the days when we were changing diapers. Feed one end and wipe the other. Since I had the supply I was doing most of the feeding and Gregg did most of the wiping.

  11. I enjoyed so many thing about poop and honey dippers.

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