The gun season for deer starts this Saturday, and I’m about to take my hikes away from the action for the next couple of weeks. I wanted to take a long walk from my front door today. Basically, there are two choices: left or right. If I go left, I walk into town or beyond town to the Ice Age Trail. If I go right, I walk along the roadside with farm views.
Today was a case of being in the right place at the wrong time. After the corn harvest and before the snow gets deep, the dairy farms transfer liquefied manure from storage pits, ponds or tanks to the open fields via fleets of these vehicles that my kids called “poop trucks.”
In the old days, the steers on my uncle’s Iowa farm were dispersed across acres of pasture. The poop stayed where it fell, and you had to be a little careful walking around the fields to avoid stepping in a cowpie. Modern dairy farms liquefy the manure and then spray it as fertilizer on area fields. During my five mile walk, this truck passed by several times loaded and unloaded.
During my last conversation about poop trucks with my retired farmer friend John, he was less than complimentary. “They want you to pay to have the crap dropped off on your land,” he said. “The harvest has to be complete, and the soil prepared. After all that, sometimes the trucks cause all kinds of damage getting in and out. The fertilizer benefit just wasn’t worth it”, according to John.
When my kids were young, we used to entertain ourselves with a made-up song when stuck in the car behind a fragrant manure spreader:
“Sitting behind the poop truck, poop truck, poop truck. Sitting behind the poop truck. Poop truck!”
It wasn’t the best song, but it did distract us from our plight.
This is a fast and dirty operation. You can see from the rear of the truck that it is a bit of a mess, and some of that mess ends up on the road.
I spent all of my high school summers on my uncle’s beef and pork operation, so I am no stranger to rural scents. However, the combination of a brisk wind and the intensity of the liquid manure challenged my gag reflex.
Even a stinky walk in the country beats a day of staying inside and going stir crazy. Today’s hike: 6.1 miles on blacktop.