Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring is Spreadin'

I got a picture text the other evening that made me laugh out loud.

“Chillin’ in the tractor…waitin’ for my load of poop to be loaded.”

Yes, that’s the kind of texts I get…you mean you don’t?

As I texted back and forth, I found out that she and the hubs were getting a load of “fertilizer” for the garden and hauling it to their home with the tractor. I just assumed she was at her in-laws…they have turkey houses and run a cow-calf operation in the north end of the county…and a lot of tractors. There are few things finer to my country daughter than driving (or even riding) a big tractor through the countryside.

It’s that time of year here in the Valley. With the first warm stretch and the promise of more to come, field work begins in earnest. That includes the hauling and spreading of the “fertilizer” that the cows, chickens and turkeys have been producing throughout the winter.

It’s also the time of year when those who “aren’t from around here” start to complain about the stench. I must say, eau du cologne it ain’t…but, that’s the smell of money, that’s the smell of successful crops…and, my friend, the smell of an integral part of the food supply.

The look on her face, the smilies in her texts were indicative of the deep love she has for the country life…smells and all. It seemed too coincidental, too ironic, not to mention the story I had been thinking about when I saw the first of many spreader trucks roll down M’brook Road that morning.

Years ago, when the girls were tiny, we were visiting in the north end of the county. (the exact same area from which she sent the text) There are LOTS of poultry houses down that way. R’ham County is the biggest producer of poultry in the state. There are poultry houses on almost every farm in that area of the world. The place we were visiting was surrounded by fields, and spreading was in full swing. One of my daughters, in a fit of true “girliness” walked outside and complained “phew, it’s stinky! What’s that? Ooo, it’s stinky!”

A little neighbor boy, whose dad worked for the neighboring turkey/cattle farm, said in an important tone, “Aw, that ain’t nothin’…it’s just turkey s**t, y’all!” In true little boy fashion, he repeated it over and over and over, trying to get that prissy little girl to understand that this was just part of everyday life. He only let up when someone finally said “Okay, Junior, okay….let’s talk about something else!” When the initial shock of his statement wore off, I tried not to giggle. The inappropriateness of the comment, combined with the complete truth of it was laughable. I can only assume he heard his dad say it. Around here, you say it like it is….and well, that’s what it is.

The irony of the story is that…yes, you guessed it, THAT daughter is the one haulin’ the “fertilizer”! That just cracks me up every time I think about it!

The fact that every spring about this time the spreader trucks start rolling is just one bit of evidence of farmers know and appreciate the cycle that is necessary to continue to produce food in an efficient, affordable way. I would hope that the newcomers to the area would come to know and appreciate the hardworking, creative folks who make their living farming and provide everyone with their basic needs. Everybody should admire those men (and possibly women) who drive the spreader trucks!

Animal waste products are the best source for fertilization. By using these natural products, synthetic fertilizers are not necessary to keep healthy plants growing. This keeps things “green” in more ways than one. Without healthy plants and animals, we would all be cold, naked and hungry. It takes large amounts of everything to produce shelter, clothing and food for the masses. Any time a natural farm byproduct can be put to good use, and create a better growing situation, it is better for the environment…and better for all of us.

When poultry litter is spread on a hay field, the crop is bigger and better than if no fertilization is applied. That in turn means a bigger, better cattle (or lamb) crop. When the dairy slurry is applied to grain fields, it means those crops are bigger and better, too. This directly affects the feed supply for the next poultry crop…and the cycle continues.

If it’s Spring….someone’s spreadin’! The farmers are doing their best to provide a healthy hay, corn, grain, grass, bean, and vegetable crop for the 2012 season.

When you think about it…you just gotta love that smell!

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