Tons of Manure

Yesterday my friend D and I spread all three of my giant manure piles. D had trucked out his mini-excavator the night before, and I did my barn chores at 6:30 AM. We started work at 8:30, paused briefly for lunch, and didn’t finish until 4:30 PM.

Eight hours is a long day when it is 80° F and you are stuck in the blazing sunshine in an uninsulated steel cab (D) or a truck with inoperable windows (me).  However, the job is done.

I’m guessing we spread about sixty tons of semi-composted manure and bedding on the north and south pastures. By the time we finished, both fields were completely coated. There was no green grass left visible at all.

There were also only two out of twelve blades left on the spreader’s beater bar. My poor manure spreader is really almost a toy, an “estate” item meant for the daily output of one or two horses: light and friable shavings and neat “horse apples” of manure. Cow manure is heavy and dense. The cleanings from the sheep stall are woven mats of hay and manure broken into stiff clods with a pickaxe and pitchfork. And let us not forget the canteloupe-sized rocks that despite all my vigilance, mysteriously find their way into a pile. Faced with these burdens, the steel beater blades gradually folded and snapped off, one by one.

I will keep a lookout for them when I rake the fields with a chain drag to smooth the surface. Jim, the friendly local iron worker, had to cut two new blades for me last summer when he straightened and re-welded the mangled beater after last year’s spreading day. I guess I’ll have to explain to Jim that until I can afford a tractor and real manure spreader, this will be an annual repair.

D is the son of my friend Allen, and, like him, very talented with heavy equipment. Unlike his father, D is impatient and has a hot temper. I used to dread his cutting remarks. However as we have become friends I think I have moved into a category of Nutty Old Lady, for whom tolerance is required. Throughout the very long day he was kindness itself, limiting himself to expressive eye rolls when my attempts at backing the spreader into position were more ludicrous than usual.

It is a relief to have this enormous task finished and behind me. Thank you, D.

Of course with both north and south pastures buried under manure, I now have no grazing for the horse and cows.  I start the long process of fencing the back field today.


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