Most Disagreeable Task: Manure Spreading

Perry Piper remembers the most disagreeable chore on Muddy Creek being manure spreading and hauling

| August 1999

  • A New Idea manure spreader is pulled by a team of horses.
    A New Idea manure spreader is pulled by a team of horses.

  • A New Idea manure spreader is pulled by a team of horses.

Webster defines a chore as "a light daily and routine task or job." It also lists a second definition: "a difficult to disagreeable task." I can think of several "chores" I had to perform in my growing-up days on Muddy Creek that fit both of those definitions. 

Under the first definition, one could well place the splitting of kindling and carrying in of wood until the big wood box was overflowing. Then there were ashes to be taken out, eggs to be hunted, and the slop bucket to be taken to the pig pen, where it was dumped into the old vinegar barrel where dad was soaking the "shorts" for the old brood sow.

Heading the list under Webster's second definition would certainly come the manure spreading and hauling. A well-publicized study done at the University of Illinois once found that the nutritive value of cow manure as fertilizer was less than the cost of spreading it.

I tried to convince Dad that he was losing money by having Old Gabe spend all that time hauling manure out to the field, but he came back with an answer to the argument by asking "Whatcha gonna do with it, then?" We continued the practice of manure spreading.

Now it isn't just the spreading manure that makes this the number one disagreeable "chore" on the farm: It is the repetition.

You cut and haul in sweet clover and red top hay, mow it back on a sweltering August day in a sweat box of a barn, and then, months later, down bunches of it to a herd of unappreciative steers that pick over and trample it into the muck that is formed by their adding the undigested portions of their dinner, packing it into a woven mattress of manure that must be cleared out periodically, or run the risk of having the cows stunted by rubbing their backs on the hay and mow floor.


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