A curious mind when a child is growing is essential to his or her development, and broadening knowledge of the World can only be for the good; sometimes. But it’s sometimes better when learning, to stick to theory, as practical exercises and experimentation can often lead to trouble. Actually, I think the same can be said of adulthood too.
Far be it for me in my childhood not to take the opportunity to experiment; theory alone just didn’t cut it. I was and always will be I guess, a hands on person. Always ready to get stuck in; providing it entailed a reasonable amount of mischief. So it followed that when, through no fault of my own, I learned that cow pats could be dried and thrown as would a frisbee. This was needless to say, a sport I intended to excel at. Now I was aware that in some parts of the World, bovine waste could be dried and used for fuel, or in fact to line the exterior walls of a house. Well, I was in no position to insulate a house or build a fire, although I did wonder what it would be like to burn some dung; imagine the pong! Up until that point, the only decent way to enjoy a cow pat was to hope that one of your friends would wander a tad close, then find something heavy enough and close at hand to throw; achieving a reasonable splat!
Out through the yard and into the coal house, dad’s shovel waited. It had a short handle and a broad scoop, ideal for just the right amount of coal to fill up the coal bucket. I knew I’d get away with borrowing the shovel for a short time, however, the bucket would be difficult to acquire; easy to empty its contents, though dad would know it had gone. For transporting our dung I would need some carrier bags; and we had more than plenty in our pantry. Myself and an accomplice set off keenly to find our quarry. Living out in the sticks as we did, there was no shortage of fields with cattle and pats aplenty. As for the condition of the dung when we returned, well that wasn’t too important because I had an idea.
There were many fields around us that had no earthly business being ploughed and ‘cropped’, and generations of cattle grazed them for years. I can imagine and picture those fields at the beginning of the Neolithic period when man ceased to run around with spears, hunting and gathering, and adopted a more agrarian, gentle approach, working the fields for crops.
Now, when in a field where cattle stood, mostly cows, you must remember the golden rule to avoid bulls should you be wearing the slightest bit of red! I’m not sure how true this is but back then we believed it. So, whilst we steered clear of the cows, we most definitely gave anything that didn’t appear to have an udder, a very wide birth. You know though, that eyes are on you. Almost silently chewing their cud, mandibles constantly in lateral motion; cows are not shy of eye contact. It was almost impossible to stare out a cow! They would just stand there…chewing…staring. It’s unnerving. But the fields were a veritable consolation, a therapeutic collection of sights, sounds and smells; there’s nothing quite so pleasing as the smell of a wheat field, a freshly ploughed field or the banquet of meadow in a field left long fallow.
In the midst of our mission, and serious about our mission we were, all thoughts were on preparation of our frisbees; and making sure we had enough poo. I guess the worst part was to scoop up the pats without either getting too much on our hands and clothes, or jumping with horror when those little, brown poop flies hopped about near us; they covered the dung and were feisty little things! I loved insects, still do, however these things just made me almost gag! Perhaps it was just the thought of excrement handling all that poo! Nevertheless, we soldiered on and filled what bags we had; from what I recall I think we had three carrier bags full to the handles with cow doings!
It wasn’t long until we had bags full of cow poo and we set off homeward to craft our frisbees. Leading the way and all of a sudden, I felt the blunt force and heard the clear slap of something making contact with my back. It was clear now that me and my friend would not make it home clean, or with our poo still in its bags. A full-on battle commenced as we drove our fists into the bags, grabbing handfuls of cow poo and hurling it at one another. All the World was forgotten amidst excremental carnage, with no thought given to possible explanations as to why we looked and smelled the way we did when arriving home.