Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What a Load of...

Today’s title and subject matter would probably cause my dearly departed grandmother to faint.

Never one to discuss the “unmentionable” topics, she would generally just murmur quietly that she needed a sack of “mahn-yer” to the fella at the hardware store.  She was always so genteel and discreet. Heaven forbid if he didn’t hear her and then proceeded to shout the order to someone else!  That happened once and it was so mortifying to her that we never shopped at that particular store again.

I know that our farming lifestyle with its preoccupation and running conversations about procreation, reproduction and defecation would give her a major case of the “heebie-jeebies”.  The worst part is that our discussions generally happen at the supper table.  Oooh, such bad manners!  So,...dearest Granny...I apologize...

But, such is the life of a farmer…

The Spring growing season is bearing down on us.  Tractor Supply will be starting their “chick days” very soon.  Every Spring, the store gets in thousands of day-old chicks and sells them to the community.  All sorts of chicks are available, and we usually get our first batch of broiler chicks this way.    We generally buy from a hatchery in PA, but since the weather can be so unpredictable in February, it is easier to buy them locally than have them shipped. This means we can have a new crop of chicken for the Market in May.

But, the brooder was still a mess from the time the layer chicks lived there prior to moving in with the hens.

Check out the awesome footwear!

Since the Boss is incapacitated, most of the fun of the job fell to me.

As I was doing clean-up duty in the brooder, I got to thinking about what a load of you-know-what we deal with on a constant basis around here.  All animals do is eat, sleep and well, poop.  Day in and day out.  Every. Single. Day.   Yeah, I know.....EWWWWWW!

The quantities can be astounding.  I have new respect for the Boss and his brooder cleaning task.

 …and I cannot imagine how those big producers manage the poultry houses that are so large that heavy equipment will fit inside.  Oh, for the record…those big producers...are held to high standards by the EPA and DEQ when it comes to cleaning out the poultry houses and disposing of the waste.  It must be contained and composted and only then can it be utilized on the fields or transported to facilities where it becomes the basis for organic fertilizers for the home gardener.

Back to the farm…

When we get those little balls of yellow fluff and down and tuck them into the brooder where they will be safe and warm while they grow, it never seems that they could make the amazing amount of stinky mess that they do prior to moving to the henhouse or pasture (in the case of broilers).  But, believe you me…they do.

But, you know what? That stinky mess is perhaps the very best fertilizer that can be had.

The old-timers refer to the stench of “fertilizer” spreading as the smell of moneyIt's true!

All that "waste" can be spread on the fields, providing nutrients for the next season’s crop of hay or corn or delicious vegetables. Handled correctly, that load of you-know-what is of great value to the farm. By recycling the waste, we are able to keep the soil fertility high and continue to produce nutritious, delicious vegetables.  The same goes for all our neighbors who will be spreading "fertilizer" on the fields as we get a little closer to the Spring growing season. Our neighbors produce hay, soybeans and corn...and lots and lots of beef.

The clean brooder...waiting for fresh bedding and inhabitants 
So, while I cannot say I truly enjoyed cleaning the brooder (I’ll be glad when the Boss returns to his regular duties) I do truly appreciate the fertilization that the load of… provided.

Next time you hear someone say “what a load of…”

Remember that load is what keeps things growing...producing...and providing food, clothing and shelter for us all.

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