Mine Don’t Stink

July 9, 2021

It’s a smell that most find disgusting … but yet I find welcoming.

It brings me back to many years of good times, with some challenging times. Work and play, summer and winter. It represents chewing cuds and the milking parlor. It’s fresh, line-dried sheets on the bed, and song sparrows sitting in the sumac hedge.

And people who don’t raise farm animals just won’t get it … but there is nothing more “home’” than the smell of your own farm’s manure.

It’s a funny thing. Every farm’s manure smell is different.

The other day when Sam and I drove by a field, we turned our noses up at the pungent smell wafting into the car. A fresh aroma was emitting from a passed by field that had just been spread with manure, and it was ripe! Unfortunately, it didn’t smell like our farm, so therefore, it stunk, to us. Sam spoke one word to me, “slurry.” Yup, that would explain it. 

Why is it that our own manure does not stink? Yet everyone else’s does? It’s all animal waste. It starts as food, transforms nutrients into product, and then, what isn’t used, comes out as poop.

But to the connoisseur, it’s not just poop. There are many variables that go into the actual smell, and a novice farm nose cannot possibly decipher all of those things. Variables such type of livestock, manure storage, feed, housing, air movement, all play into what the smell is like.

A lifelong farmer can figure out many of the details without ever having stepped on the farm, simply by smelling the manure.  The strong ammonia smell from hogs, hint of silage from dairy, and whether the manure is stored in a pit or a slurry.

As identifiable as a street address, farm folk know their stink, and they know their neighbor’s stink too. A farmer can tell by the smell whose manure is spread in a field for instance. 

“So and so must be out spreading manure today.”

I guess all of this is really no different than a mother knowing the smell of her child. We know the smell of our own farm, like our own children. And it smells just great! 

Just like home!

With love,