The Politics of Poop


So it’s Saturday afternoon. I’m in the woods, trying to dig out my lawn tractor, which is up to its axels in horse-poop-filled mud, and it begins to rain. “Oh @$#*,” I say. “$#()$ %$*& ^%%$$ this *&*(#@.”

My wife and I live on an 18-acre farmette in southern Pennsylvania. A “farmette” is like a farm, only smaller and with even less chance of generating revenue. We share this farmette with three horses and an infinite number of other creatures including pygmy goats and chickens.

As my landed-gentry readers know, horses produce poop. Extraordinarily shocking amounts of poop. And while they spend their days grazing in the pasture, horses would rather not poop where they eat, so they hold on to as much of it as possible and deposit it in their stalls, in mounds the size of Volkswagens.

So, every week or so we perform the ancient ritual known as “mucking out the stalls.” This involves digging up nasty poop-and-pee-laden bedding with sharp farm implements, putting it in a cart attached to the lawn tractor, and then driving off looking for some place to dump it while the farm animals watch us and laugh.

Our property consists of a few acres of woods, the horses’ pasture, and a fairly substantial field, upon which our neighbor, an actual real-life farmer, grows corn and stuff. In the winter we toss the bedding in the cornfield. However, once spring arrives and the farmer impregnates the field with little corn babies, we have to find a different dumping ground, usually our woods.

Being a totally natural substance not unlike granola the poop will eventually break down, turning into food for worms and bugs, which are then consumed by bats and slugs which are in turn eaten by Fox News anchors, thus completing the cycle of nature. But until then it’s just stinky poop which becomes a treacherous Vietnam-like quagmire when wet. So it’s a very bad idea to drive your lawn tractor into it like I did this weekend.

It’s totally my fault. Instead of paying attention to the task at hand, I was brooding about South Carolina. A couple of years back my wife and I spent a long and happy weekend in Charleston. The city was clean and pleasant and the food was beyond wonderful (I still dream of Jestine’s fried green tomatoes). The people were without exception friendly and polite and not at all deranged.

So it had been bugging me all morning: why do these nice and friendly people keep electing wack-a-doos like Joe Wilson and Governor Mark Sanford? Joe Wilson of course is the distinguished gentleman who yelled, “You lie!” during Barak Obama’s healthcare speech before Congress, and Mark Sanford is the man who made “hiking the Appalachian Trail” synonymous with “boinking your Argentinean mistress and then not shutting the hell up about it on TV.” It made no sense at all, and it was driving me crazy.

By late that afternoon I had come up with a theory. It occurred to me that maybe the people of South Carolina are like horses. They’re as loony as the rest of us, but rather than spread it around their own state, they save it up to deposit in an enclosed space − in this case a voting booth − fully aware that somebody other than them is going to have to clean up the mess. As an extra benefit the biggest and smelliest piles of poop will get exported up north to Washington DC, which they still haven’t forgiven for the Civil War.

It fit all the facts. “Eureka!” I cried as I drove straight into the decomposing poop swamp. Several noisome hours later we dug the tractor out and I found a relatively dry place to drop this week’s load of horse apples.

In a week or so the corn will be harvested and our disposal problems will be over for a while. I’m rather concerned about next fall, though: 2010’s an election year and old Joe’s running again.

We’re gonna need a bigger tractor.

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3 Responses to “The Politics of Poop”

  1. Poopalicious Says:

    I would just like to mention for the record that, contrary to all appearances, you have used the word “noisome” correctly. Now use “fulsome” in a sentence, and you will be ready to try for the trifecta.

    By the way, I was originally shocked about a different state, Texas, where the governor suggested that they might secede from the union (their last attempt having worked out so well). But then when I read how all these schools were going to keep their kids out of school so that they wouldn’t hear the president tell them to work hard and try their best (i.e., “promote his socialist agenda”), I began to think that the governor had an excellent idea.

    Perhaps South Carolina could follow Texas’s lead.

  2. Paul Murphy Says:

    Tragically, WordPress lacks a spell-checker, so even if I DO use fulsome correctly I’ll almost certainly spell it “fullsome.”

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