2.28.2007

Dirt

I don't think i'm a particularly "effective" person. At least not in that way that "highly effective" people are. As it is, I just sort of run rough-shod over concept to concept. I wish I weren't this way. I don't think it's a lack of intelligence; I'm hoping that it's just a matter of discipline (or some equally onerous word). One day I guess I'll learn to behave...and i would do that now except that....well, i guess that right now I'm just too distracted by the small and the silly.

Anyway, the reason for the "not effective" confession is to assure other not-so-effective people out there that they can still get little things done here and there without entirely having to change everything about themselves. Case in point:

I made dirt.

And I'm really excited about it.

Here's the deal: One of my favorite bits of writing in the whole world is from a Wendell Berry essay called "The Work of Local Culture." This essay is collected in the book What Are People For? and, if you don't already own the book, I suggest you purchase it as soon as possible. Here is my favorite part:

For many years, my walks have taken me down an old fencerow in a wooded hollow on what was once my grandfather's farm. A battered galvanized bucket is hanging on a fence post near the head of the hollow, and i never go by it without stopping to look inside. For what is going on in that bucket is the most momentous thing i know, the greatest miracle that i have ever heard of: it is making earth.
I have huge plans. I have vast, head-swimmingly grandiose plans. And I rarely ever get anything done. This year, however, i finally managed to compost my leaves. I cordoned them off in a little corner of the backyard and, on occasion, i would go out there and turn the pile over a little bit. Week by week the leaves broke down. Attractive, wiggly earthworms started to make appearances. The leaves grew darker and, it seemed, much heavier. The pile didn't even get that much smaller. And since it appears that Spring has rolled around here at last, this past weekend i did what I've waited to do all winter: I dug into that pile of rotting leaves. I got a shovel and used every bit of it in our garden spots. I never stopped being amazed at what i saw. Man, i helped make dirt!

9 comments:

femme fortis said...

some people have a medical condition called pica that makes them crave dirt to eat.

Maig said...

Congrats! It is a happy time to make dirt.

Biffle said...

femme fortis:

it was delicious.

jaz said...

Okay, but if you start shoveling the dirt in through the kitchen window and shaping it into a mound that resembles Devil's Tower while muttering, "This means something, this means something..." I'll get worried.

Anonymous said...

Biffle - if you can get your hands on some sheep manure, mix it in with your compost pile, and you'll have not just dirt, but SUPER DIRT. Trust the farm girl... Nice going, btw. Turning the pile is *key*. - b

sarah said...

Will dog poop work just as well? Seriously, if urban composters can find a use for dog crap the world would be a better place. Plus you could train the dogs to use your compost pile as a toilet.

Biffle said...

j: i was saved by the fact that our kitchen window open onto the neighbor's yard.

b: sheep poop, huh? I've always been a big cow fan, but sheep poop...

s: canivore/omnivore poop is bad news.

another argument in favor of those pesky vegetarians.

Anonymous said...

As you introduced me as a "poop engineer" to your mamma years ago, yes, Sheep Poop *IS* the ticket to great yard fertilizer...if you can get your hands on it. If you (or anyone else) gets serious and would like to find your nearest sheep farmer, I would recommend contacting the local 4-H office - kids who show market lambs will have loads... ;)

Sheep poop is typically better because they eat a lot of grass already, not to mention that their feed has much less filler in it than most dog food does.

I asked my dad once about dog poop because these really pretty tomatoes grew in our dog pen (heh) when I was growing up, but Daddy said "Well...yes, they're pretty...but you sure wouldn't want to eat one!"

Poop reflects what's eaten, and dogs eat other poop (among other disgusting things...as much as I love my own dogs, they're gross), so really...bleck-o-rama!

Now...chicken poop and rabbit poop are REALLY the top brass when it comes to fertilizer, but whoa, dude...the stench!!!

And that is your poop update, brought to you by the letter S and the number 2.

Good day.

- b (the farm girl who grew up to be an environmental engineer...or POOP engineer, depending on who you talk to)

Kenneth said...

I'm reminded of something you used to say in high school, gendered language and all:

God made dirt; man made dirt dirty.