Hot . . . umm . . . Stuff: Adventures in Shoveling out the Barn

 

Let’s start with the Book of Ecclesiastes. First off, that photo to the right? It has nothing to do with the subject of this post. But before I dig in (so to speak) I’d like to get something off my chest, something which I’m generally not all that moved by or all that privy to, but something which, at the grand old age of 64, seems to have unexpectedly crept up on me. And that’s what the less-charitable amongst us might call, “a bit of vanity.” You see, I’ve written so much on Ricochet over the last nine years about life down here on our little farm, and I’ve figured so prominently and so often in so many of my posts and comments as a sopping-wet figure in hip boots and overalls, up to her knees in mud trying to free the tractor from the swamp it’s axle-deep in; or as the person rolling around in the muck on the barn floor with her arm all the way up to the elbow inside some ewe’s throbbing and painfully constricted cervix, trying to disentangle a set of twins in the womb and lead them out into the world one at a time; or as the person my large-handed or fat-fingered neighbors call, so they can ask me to stick my own dainty digits up into a sow’s uterus to make sure that all the little piggies have safely made their escape; or as the non-licensed veterinarian dealing with any number of disgusting medical calamities; or as the person making and installing a 14′ set of driveway gates; or even as the person mixing her own concrete and digging out and putting in a trench drain, that you may all be excused for thinking that I am always dressed from the charity barrel, that I never clean myself up, and that I am permanently sweating like a horse, covered in filth, and smeared with blood (either my own or that belonging to some other creature).

For some reason, it’s important to me, right now, to dispel that notion. So even though I shun the camera most of the time, and very rarely include a recent, recognizable photo of myself in any of my posts (of which this is the 287th), here’s one where I’m relatively clean and reasonably well turned out. That’s all. Just a moment of vanity. All is vanity. Before I launch into yet another post about my very organic life on the farm.

But I digress (perhaps it’s because my Medicare card arrived in the mail the other day. Ouch). Back to Ecclesiastes. Oh, you thought the preceding paragraphs were the Ecclesiastes bit? Sorry. False flag. The Ecclesiastes bit has to do with the turning of the seasons, and when it’s “time.”

Last weekend, it was “time” to shovel out the barn. I don’t know why “shoveling out the barn” isn’t one of the enumerated priorities in Ecclesiastes. Because it can’t be avoided. Unless you want to get to the point, after avoiding it for two or three years, that it’s impossible to stand up in the place. (Perhaps, in that neck of the woods, winters are mild enough that one doesn’t need a barn, and perhaps there is no accumulation of “stuff” therein. But that’s not true where I live.)

In any event, I’d love it if the women around here could shovel out the barn dressed like Her Majesty when she feeds her beloved horses kibbles and treats in their stalls. You know, a lovely Liberty of London headscarf thrown carelessly over her hair and knotted at her neck. A Burberry jacket. A plaid, pleated, womanly wool skirt. And sturdy wellies. All impeccably clean and pristine. And worn with aplomb. Or if the men in this area could do the work in their Hebden Corduroy plus fours, their ribbed over-the-knee stockings, their Barbour shooting jackets (with articulated sleeves for maximum comfort and movement), their Harris Tweed flat caps, and their lovely glove-leather, deer-stalking footwear. I imagine them shoveling out a few lights and friable forks full of hay with only moderate amounts of manure, and laughing as they do it. Whilst leaving the barn floor cleaner than the one that’s in my kitchen as I write this (OK, that’s not hard . . .).

Alas, that’s not how it goes where I live. Shoveling out the barn when the sheep want to live in it during the winter just isn’t on. One does one’s best, but It Happens (TM) and It accumulates, until the day comes, late in Spring, or early in Summer, when Something Must Be Done.

When we reach that point, and when the timing and the weather is right, I get out of bed in the morning, make and eat breakfast, wait for the dew to dry off the grass in the field, put on the oldest and least attractive clothes and boots that I have, don a ridiculous hat, a filthy pair of gloves, hold my breath and spray myself with what is surely carcinogenic and neurodegenerative bug repellent, mount the tractor (a small, but useful 29-horsepower New Holland diesel with (for this purpose) only the front loader/bucket attached) and get to work. And this is a portion of the result:

As I was working the tractor the other day, with occasional forays into hand shoveling (using a hay fork which, when it works is a good piece of gear, and when the tines are too close together or too far apart for the purpose, is an absolutely infuriating and useless implement), I was contemplating, as I often do, how much I like Ricochet, and whether or not I could come up with a suitable post for this month’s Group Writing topic (because, to that point, I’d failed to think of anything thermostatically suitable).

Suddenly I noticed the steam rising all around me. Eureka! (Or, as I thought at the time, “You-reek-ugh!”)

You see, manure really is hot stuff. And as such, as visually and olfactorily unpleasant as it is, it does have its uses.

(I’m not talking about “hot stuff” in the chemical composition sense (there is one). But I’m a belles-lettres, and not a STEM kind of gal, so I won’t go into the scientific make-up of the stuff. I’ll leave that for @cliffordabrown to do in a future post. I’m talking about “hot” in the “OOF!” sense. the sense that, when I took my trusty infrared thermometer and pointed it at the pile shown in the above photo, it indicated that the surface temperature was about 82 degrees. I took a shovel, and went down about 4 inches: 126 degrees. Four more inches further in: 160 degrees. (All temperatures expressed in Fahrenheit, BTW).

What does this mean?

It means that manure is a very good source of intrinsically-generated heat and that, in northern climes, those with a short growing season, if a gardener has access to manure (do we ever), and if he shovels some of it out in, say, March or April, he may be able to extend his growing season by forming something called “hotbeds.” That if he piles the manure into a raised bed, and then covers it with several inches of soil, he’ll have a naturally warm environment to get his plants going, even if air temperatures still dip below freezing at night. This website gives pretty clear instructions on how to build a small hotbed (with a 12-inch layer of manure–they say horse, but sheep works just as well, trust me). When you live where I do, this is easy to accomplish. If you’re not out in the sticks, I’d suggest forming alliances with those who are, or if you’re a CSA supporter, asking one of your fruit and veggie vendors for assistance. The farm’s supply of manure almost always exceeds the demand or the capacity to cope with it, trust me (again), please. And most folks will be happy to share. (As with most things, misery, in the form of hot . . . umm . . . stuff, loves company, and trouble shared is trouble halved.)

It’s an incredibly useful way to use the properties of an otherwise utterly unprepossessing product to improve your life.

Now, if only I could think of a way to use it to facilitate winter sunbathing. (Oddly, my local spa hasn’t expressed much interest in experimentation when I’ve suggested what I’m sure could be a lucrative partnership.) For the record, though, even I draw the line at bird poop facials. Although there seems to be an overabundance of that raw material at the moment, too. In any event, done for another year.

Excelsior!

Published in Group Writing
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There are 38 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. JoelB Member

    Hot stuff indeed and entertaining as always.

    • #1
    • June 11, 2019, at 6:49 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    Great post! In the book, Seabiscuit, I seem to recall that there was a giant pile of manure at the Agua Caliente racetrack in Mexico and the jockeys used it as a sauna to reduce their weight before a race. I also seem to recall a scene where after a lot of rain, the manure pile broke loose and ate the bleachers.

    • #2
    • June 11, 2019, at 6:52 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Gary McVey Contributor

    That’s you?? Damn, do you look great! Looking at your picture, not only do I regret the American revolution, I’m just about ready to apologize for the counter-Reformation! A funny story, and even, despite the subject matter, rather lovely. Thanks for brightening up this website, as you do, every day. 

    • #3
    • June 11, 2019, at 6:55 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  4. PHCheese Member

    Watch for the inevitable farm girl jokes. Great post.

    • #4
    • June 11, 2019, at 7:01 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Arahant Member

    • #5
    • June 11, 2019, at 7:23 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. James Gawron Thatcher

    She,

    Never has my complete admiration for you been greater. I worked on a farm a few times maybe 40 years ago. I did a little construction work maybe 20 years ago. Nothing I have done or will ever do shall equal your merit.

    Truly the s*** has hit the fan and my hat is off to you. I am speechless.

    Regards,

    Jim

     

    • #6
    • June 11, 2019, at 7:26 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  7. Full Size Tabby Member

    A horse poop exercise my late father (professor of mechanical engineering) would sometimes assign in the 1970’s, when the hippies wanted to do away with cars and use more “eco-friendly” transportation methods such as horse-drawn vehicles.

    The assignment was to calculate the amount of horse manure that would cover the streets of Manhattan (NY) if motor vehicles were replaced with horse-drawn vehicles (and assuming that the same number of vehicle miles could be achieved with horses – a not realistic assumption but he didn’t want too many variables in the problem).

    Generally students calculated that horse poop would cover the streets of Manhattan to a depth of 12 inches every day. The exercise was mostly to teach problem solving – identifying necessary input information, making and documenting assumptions, making reasonable estimates and approximations, etc. But the result created an interesting mental image of the “eco-friendly” horse leaving behind a foot of poop every day that would need to go somewhere.

    • #7
    • June 11, 2019, at 7:26 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    But the result created an interesting mental image of the “eco-friendly” horse leaving behind a foot of poop every day that would need to go somewhere.

    Yeah. Mackinac Island is fun to visit, but…

    • #8
    • June 11, 2019, at 7:30 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. The Reticulator Member

    You must have quite a few animals to produce such an amount. And it looks like you keep them well supplied with bedding. I’m no expert, but I’ve cleaned out a few calf pens (for a farmer neighbor, when I was in high school) as well as a few poultry coops. Good stuff for making your garden grow, if you’re not going to spread it on your alfalfa fields. But isn’t it a bit late in the year for working it into your garden, much less for making hot beds (a technique I hadn’t known about) . I always thought you lived further south than I do.

    We no longer have any sheep, goats, or chickens, so I add nitrogen to the garden by putting a lot of grass clipping mulch on it. Helps keeps the weeds down this year, and whatever hasn’t leached into the soil gets spaded in next year. Smells better, too. 

    • #9
    • June 11, 2019, at 7:33 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  10. Percival Thatcher

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    A horse poop exercise my late father (professor of mechanical engineering) would sometimes assign in the 1970’s, when the hippies wanted to do away with cars and use more “eco-friendly” transportation methods such as horse-drawn vehicles.

    The assignment was to calculate the amount of horse manure that would cover the streets of Manhattan (NY) if motor vehicles were replaced with horse-drawn vehicles (and assuming that the same number of vehicle miles could be achieved with horses – a not realistic assumption but he didn’t want too many variables in the problem).

    Generally students calculated that horse poop would cover the streets of Manhattan to a depth of 12 inches every day. The exercise was mostly to teach problem solving – identifying necessary input information, making and documenting assumptions, making reasonable estimates and approximations, etc. But the result created an interesting mental image of the “eco-friendly” horse leaving behind a foot of poop every day that would need to go somewhere.

    … and through that mess you will have to transport the fodder for all those horses into the city, plus you’ll need stabling … of course, your agriculture will have to be horse-based too, so the cost of oats and hay are going to go way up …

    We can’t afford the nineteenth century anymore.

    • #10
    • June 11, 2019, at 7:48 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. Kay of MT Member

    What a wonderful report of what your life is like. you are quite a lovely lady. You very much resemble my dad’s cousin, who lived to one week short of her 100th birthday. She told story’s also, growing up on a farm in Arkansas. May you live longer than that.

    • #11
    • June 11, 2019, at 7:52 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Full Size Tabby Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    A horse poop exercise my late father (professor of mechanical engineering) would sometimes assign in the 1970’s, when the hippies wanted to do away with cars and use more “eco-friendly” transportation methods such as horse-drawn vehicles.

    The assignment was to calculate the amount of horse manure that would cover the streets of Manhattan (NY) if motor vehicles were replaced with horse-drawn vehicles (and assuming that the same number of vehicle miles could be achieved with horses – a not realistic assumption but he didn’t want too many variables in the problem).

    Generally students calculated that horse poop would cover the streets of Manhattan to a depth of 12 inches every day. The exercise was mostly to teach problem solving – identifying necessary input information, making and documenting assumptions, making reasonable estimates and approximations, etc. But the result created an interesting mental image of the “eco-friendly” horse leaving behind a foot of poop every day that would need to go somewhere.

    … and through that mess you will have to transport the fodder for all those horses into the city, plus you’ll need stabling … of course, your agriculture will have to be horse-based too, so the cost of oats and hay are going to go way up …

    We can’t afford the nineteenth century anymore.

    One of my father’s fellow professors was old enough that the transition from horse powered farm equipment to mechanized farm equipment occurred while he was in high school. He thought mechanized equipment was great – it didn’t need to be fed when it wasn’t working, he didn’t need to haul food to the horses, and he didn’t need to clean out a lot of horse stalls.

    • #12
    • June 11, 2019, at 7:56 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  13. JosePluma Thatcher

    In high school, I had a friend who was collecting horse manure from Santa Fe Downs. He lost his balance, fell into the pile, and ended up with some pretty nasty burns to his knees, forearms, hands and face.

    • #13
    • June 12, 2019, at 12:46 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    You must have quite a few animals to produce such an amount. And it looks like you keep them well supplied with bedding. I’m no expert, but I’ve cleaned out a few calf pens (for a farmer neighbor, when I was in high school) as well as a few poultry coops. Good stuff for making your garden grow, if you’re not going to spread it on your alfalfa fields. But isn’t it a bit late in the year for working it into your garden, much less for making hot beds (a technique I hadn’t known about) . I always thought you lived further south than I do.

    We no longer have any sheep, goats, or chickens, so I add nitrogen to the garden by putting a lot of grass clipping mulch on it. Helps keeps the weeds down this year, and whatever hasn’t leached into the soil gets spaded in next year. Smells better, too.

    I’ll get back to the bit about nitrogen in a later post, as @she hinted. Now that we are tossing out posts on cow patties, maybe more Ricochetti will chip in, to avoid more of my hot takes on this month’s theme series: Hot Stuff!” We have a lot of open days as the summer season starts. Please stop by and sign up to share your own angle on the topic, however loosely construed.

    • #14
    • June 12, 2019, at 1:19 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    I’ll get back to the bit about nitrogen in a later post…

    Gunpowder? Or even Gunpowder God?

    • #15
    • June 12, 2019, at 2:17 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. KentForrester Coolidge

    Loved your post, Ms. She. In fact, the image I conjured up of your arms up a sheep’s cooter was worth at least ten thousand words of speculation about what the Mueller Report really means.

    If that isn’t hippy hair, I don’t know what is.

    • #16
    • June 12, 2019, at 3:52 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):

    Great post! In the book, Seabiscuit, I seem to recall that there was a giant pile of manure at the Agua Caliente racetrack in Mexico and the jockeys used it as a sauna to reduce their weight before a race. 

    What a brilliant idea! Hmm . . . .

     

    • #17
    • June 12, 2019, at 4:17 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Generally students calculated that horse poop would cover the streets of Manhattan to a depth of 12 inches every day. The exercise was mostly to teach problem solving – identifying necessary input information, making and documenting assumptions, making reasonable estimates and approximations, etc. But the result created an interesting mental image of the “eco-friendly” horse leaving behind a foot of poop every day that would need to go somewhere.

    Yes, matter is neither created nor destroyed, as they say.Whatever the technology, there’s an upside here and a downside there.

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    What a wonderful report of what your life is like. you are quite a lovely lady. You very much resemble my dad’s cousin, who lived to one week short of her 100th birthday. She told story’s also, growing up on a farm in Arkansas. May you live longer than that.

    Thanks @kayofmt. Wish I’d known your dad’s cousin. My family is quite long-lived, with people regularly reaching their late 90s, and two (one from each side) who died at the age of 102. So I’ve still got almost 40 years to go if I’m not to let the side down!

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    She,

    Never has my complete admiration for you been greater. I worked on a farm a few times maybe 40 years ago.

    Well, this was a total surprise, @jamesgawron. Did you enjoy it?

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    That’s you?? Damn, do you look great! Looking at your picture, not only do I regret the American revolution, I’m just about ready to apologize for the counter-Reformation! A funny story, and even, despite the subject matter, rather lovely. Thanks for brightening up this website, as you do, every day. 

    Thanks @garymcvey. You really are the kindest, and one of the most gentlemanly, men on Ricochet. (I’ll cough up your stipend later. Our little secret.)

    • #18
    • June 12, 2019, at 4:24 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Loved your post, Ms. She. In fact, the picture of your arms up a sheep’s cooter was worth at least ten thousand words of speculation about what the Mueller Report really means.

    If that isn’t hippy hair, I don’t know what is.

    lol on the first count. On the second, you have no idea. Not a patch on what used to be, I am a shadow of my former self:

    • #19
    • June 12, 2019, at 4:28 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    You must have quite a few animals to produce such an amount.

    Not as many as we used to, praise be.

    And it looks like you keep them well supplied with bedding.

    Probably too much.

    I’m no expert, but I’ve cleaned out a few calf pens (for a farmer neighbor, when I was in high school) as well as a few poultry coops. Good stuff for making your garden grow, if you’re not going to spread it on your alfalfa fields. But isn’t it a bit late in the year for working it into your garden, much less for making hot beds (a technique I hadn’t known about) .

    The last “official” frost date, according to the jokesters at the National Weather Service, is May 30, although this year I started gardening in mid-March, and had very little trouble with the cold. But, yes. Hot beds around here are most useful from early March to mid-April. This spring was so wet that the ‘big dig’ in the barn just wasn’t feasible before now.

    I always thought you lived further south than I do.

    Bottom left corner of PA. In the little place called “Limited Service” (you’ll see it, marked in gray, on all those cell phone coverage maps.)

    We no longer have any sheep, goats, or chickens, so I add nitrogen to the garden by putting a lot of grass clipping mulch on it. Helps keeps the weeds down this year, and whatever hasn’t leached into the soil gets spaded in next year. Smells better, too.

     

    • #20
    • June 12, 2019, at 4:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. KentForrester Coolidge

    She (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Loved your post, Ms. She. In fact, the picture of your arms up a sheep’s cooter was worth at least ten thousand words of speculation about what the Mueller Report really means.

    If that isn’t hippy hair, I don’t know what is.

    lol on the first count. On the second, you have no idea. Not a patch on what used to be, I am a shadow of my former self:

    Wow, She, talk about golden tresses. Your hair looks as though it stepped out of a pre-Raphaelite painting. (That reference was for the belles-lettres girl in you.)

    • #21
    • June 12, 2019, at 5:34 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Front Seat Cat Member

    I think I’m looking forward to getting the Medicare card one of these days….I’m so sick of the insurance system – why does it keep getting worse?? Your posts are wonderful and your picture is too – nice to see a happy person who does so many backbreaking crazy things on the farm!!

    • #22
    • June 12, 2019, at 6:29 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor

    You are beautiful. But I think to make this post truly complete, you should have graced us with a “before and after” pix. Boy, would I have loved to see that get-up when you were done! Ummm…. but may be not . . . . ;-)

    • #23
    • June 12, 2019, at 6:30 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. Arahant Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    I’m so sick of the insurance system – why does it keep getting worse??

    Government interference.

    • #24
    • June 12, 2019, at 6:32 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    You are beautiful. But I think to make this post truly complete, you should have graced us with a “before and after” pix. Boy, would I have loved to see that get-up when you were done! Ummm…. but may be not . . . . ;-)

    Thanks, Susan. The bruises are probably the most impressive thing–I’m always self-conscious at this time of year, because shearing the sheepish creatures always results in a plethora of dime and quarter-sized black and blue marks all over my arms and legs (from horns and hooves). They’re so stupid. I know they’ll feel so much better when I’m finished and I’ve got their hot wool coats off them, but they’re not the least bit grateful, and they fight every step of the way. Thankfully, this year, I didn’t get a black eye (odds are better than even for that). But I always remember the years I worked, and how I’d stagger into work on the Monday or the Tuesday (if I took Monday off), all black and blue and racked up and popping NSAIDs like candy, and the secretary would look at me, raise and eyebrow, and say, “Sheep shearing, huh?”

    I’ll spare you the photos of the bruises.

    • #25
    • June 12, 2019, at 8:02 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  26. Hang On Member

    The heat is from the anaerobic digestion of the manure since anaerobic digestion is an exothermic reaction. You’re also generating methane and carbon dioxide, green house gases. You could be capturing the methane and generating electricity, which is being done at farms around North Carolina. 

    • #26
    • June 12, 2019, at 8:17 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  27. Hang On Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    You must have quite a few animals to produce such an amount. And it looks like you keep them well supplied with bedding. I’m no expert, but I’ve cleaned out a few calf pens (for a farmer neighbor, when I was in high school) as well as a few poultry coops. Good stuff for making your garden grow, if you’re not going to spread it on your alfalfa fields. But isn’t it a bit late in the year for working it into your garden, much less for making hot beds (a technique I hadn’t known about) . I always thought you lived further south than I do.

    We no longer have any sheep, goats, or chickens, so I add nitrogen to the garden by putting a lot of grass clipping mulch on it. Helps keeps the weeds down this year, and whatever hasn’t leached into the soil gets spaded in next year. Smells better, too.

    I’ll get back to the bit about nitrogen in a later post, as @she hinted. Now that we are tossing out posts on cow patties, maybe more Ricochetti will chip in, to avoid more of my hot takes on this month’s theme series: Hot Stuff!” We have a lot of open days as the summer season starts. Please stop by and sign up to share your own angle on the topic, however loosely construed.

    Grasses generally have nitrogen-fixing bacteria associated with them. So they are good for the soil. Anaerobic digestion, the process I mentioned above, generally results in large excess nitrogen (ammonia) since the anaerobic microorganisms grow slowly and are unable to utilize all of the nitrogen available. If this is being done commercially, the excess nitrogen becomes a valuable waste stream. 

    • #27
    • June 12, 2019, at 8:29 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    You must have quite a few animals to produce such an amount. And it looks like you keep them well supplied with bedding. I’m no expert, but I’ve cleaned out a few calf pens (for a farmer neighbor, when I was in high school) as well as a few poultry coops. Good stuff for making your garden grow, if you’re not going to spread it on your alfalfa fields. But isn’t it a bit late in the year for working it into your garden, much less for making hot beds (a technique I hadn’t known about) . I always thought you lived further south than I do.

    We no longer have any sheep, goats, or chickens, so I add nitrogen to the garden by putting a lot of grass clipping mulch on it. Helps keeps the weeds down this year, and whatever hasn’t leached into the soil gets spaded in next year. Smells better, too.

    I’ll get back to the bit about nitrogen in a later post, as @she hinted. Now that we are tossing out posts on cow patties, maybe more Ricochetti will chip in, to avoid more of my hot takes on this month’s theme series: Hot Stuff!” We have a lot of open days as the summer season starts. Please stop by and sign up to share your own angle on the topic, however loosely construed.

    Grasses generally have nitrogen-fixing bacteria associated with them. So they are good for the soil. Anaerobic digestion, the process I mentioned above, generally results in large excess nitrogen (ammonia) since the anaerobic microorganisms grow slowly and are unable to utilize all of the nitrogen available. If this is being done commercially, the excess nitrogen becomes a valuable waste stream.

    I’m reminded for the first time in a very (very) long time, of an epic party in a pre or post-graduate phase of my college career, can’t remember which. I’m sure alcohol of some sort was involved.

    The idea was that you went round a circle of people, with each person, for his turn, shouting out the name of an animal. And the first person to call out the particular name for the feces of that animal scored a point. This was in the days long, long before the Internet. People either knew, or they didn’t. So those whose vocabularies included words like spraint (otter), scat (mountain lions, and many other wild beasties) and fewmets (deer, and other hunted animals), and so on, had a tremendous advantage.

    At some point, in our hilarity, we thought it would be a terrific idea to write a book on the subject, and that when we did, we’d call it “Know . . . umm . . . Stuff.”

    This comment, and several others on this thread have convinced me that we could still do that, and use the same title, but we could take the narrative in a completely different direction.

     

    • #28
    • June 12, 2019, at 11:00 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  29. WillowSpring Member

    She (View Comment):
    People either knew, or they didn’t. So those whose vocabularies included words like spraint (otter), scat (mountain lions, and many other wild beasties) and fewmets (deer, and other hunted animals), and so on, had a tremendous advantage.

    When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the “Tarzan” books by Edgar Rice Burroughs”. Every now and then, while tracking some prey, he found some scat (I had to look that up) and stuck his hand in it to get some idea how long ago the animal had ‘passed’. That seemed like a useful skill, but somehow, I couldn’t make myself practice it.

    • #29
    • June 12, 2019, at 2:01 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  30. Richard Finlay Member

    I have a video of myself during spring cleanout of the sheep shed. We were a very small operation and the mountain of … stuff … was mole-hillish, but I have vivid memories. Sure cleaned out the sinuses.

    • #30
    • June 12, 2019, at 8:49 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
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