It’s a summer’s evening, I’m strolling down the Strand, heading for No. 1 Aldwych where I will perch elegantly on a bar stool and take ladylike sips on a violet martini.
Whoopsy, I forgot myself for a moment. That was me circa 2008. Back to present day … it’s a summer’s evening, I’m trudging through the turned earth of the pig pen, heading for poo corner where I will stand with wellied feet planted firmly in 3 inches of muck and shovel up pig s**t.
Bizarrely I did this out of choice. No one was making me shovel poo. It was my idea. Pig manure is high in phosphorus, a key nutrient needed in the veg plot. It would be silly to let a free source of plant food go to waste. The pigs make it easy by always “eliminating” in the same places, namely the corners of their run. Contrary to popular opinion, pigs are not dirty creatures by nature. They never soil their house. The straw in there is so clean that should the snoring in my own house get too bad, I could probably curl up with the girls in their house and get a good night’s sleep. They choose to poo in the corners of their run as these are furthest from their house, and they only use 3 of the corners as the fourth corner is by their water trough and wallow, and no one wants to drink and play in pooey water. So the expression “happy as a pig in s**t” is actually factually incorrect. Our girls go out of their way to keep out of the stuff!
In order to shovel up the poo I first had to distract the girls as otherwise their greed driven curiosity would bring them my way, and I didn’t fancy shovelling in the midst of eight pairs of trotters and four sets of nibbling teeth. I threw them an armful of slugged chard leaves and rushed to corner one. My, what a lot of poo! Solids old and new, sloppies old and new. A delightful sweet smelling medley. No really, it wasn’t that bad, and I’m sure that the puppy poo to come will be a damn sight (or rather smell) worse!
The chard leaves didn’t last long so before I could tackle poo corner two a further food based distraction was required. Fortunately, by now it was pig tea time. The pigs knew this too and spotted me tracking the run perimeter heading for the feed bin. Hungry pigs can fly. They use their flapping ears like wings. How else do they cover the length of the run in 3 seconds flat. Unfortunately for me, the bin was empty and I had to open a new bag of feed. This delay gave the pigs ample time within which to whip themselves up into a frenzy of squealing, climbing on each other’s backs to get a better view of the feed, chewing on the fencing as though it had been weeks rather than minutes since their last snack. All this activity takes place in poo corner three, where said poo was soon reduced to liquid form under those eight pairs of trotters. The first poo splatter hit me on the shoulder. I ducked behind the feed bin lid to avoid the second poo splatter. I didn’t hang around long enough to risk a third poo splatter.
With a trough full of food to concentrate on, the pigs left me alone to shovel in poo corner two. I made the mistake of over filling the barrow. Leaning over the barrow as I heaved it back up the field through the long grass, I had a vision of hell as I realised there was a very real risk of me slipping head first into the barrow. Dave was following behind me, it would only take a small shove in the back….
Thankfully the precious cargo of poo made it safely to the compost bins without any major incidents en route.
All I need to do now is add some chicken poo, high in nitrogen, and some Bertha poo (wood ash), high in potassium, and hey presto I have a nutritious mix for use in autumn 2011. Patience is a virtue every gardener needs. I’m working on that.