I Stepped in It (Part I)


My shoes are still in the garage. I had such a heyday (two of them) on Monday and Tuesday of last week, ending with me unwittingly stepping in chicken manure and then getting in the car to drive away (i.e., the car did not smell pretty).

North of Jefferson, Iowa.

Last Monday, on no certain timetable, I drove to Rolfe for an overnight stay. Just north of Jefferson I looked to the west and saw a beautiful picture: a field with straight east/west rows of stubble and a manure spreader* throwing out chunks of manure. By the time I thought to take a picture, I was too far past the rows of the spreader location. By the time I turned around and came back, the spreader was at the opposite corner of the field. It appeared that the operator was taking a break.

I imagine that any farmer (or maybe just anyone, period!) will roll his/her eyes reading this post. Actually, I’m kind of embarrassed to say I did this because it was just so loosey-goosey. However, one thing I’m learning more after leaving full-time teacher-librarian work four years ago and having melanoma (now being almost five years cancer free) is to smell those flowers. So, here’s what I did.

When the tractor stopped at the edge of the field near the manure pile, I pulled off the highway and started to drive up the gravel road. I wanted to ask the farmer if he’d soon resume spreading manure. Just as I got near the field entrance, he pulled out onto the gravel road. Do I stop him? Or, do I just keep driving?

By the time the few seconds passed before we met on the road, I hadn’t developed a game plan. I drove past him and over the hill (so that he wouldn’t think I was stalking him!), planning to turn around. But, there were some cattle just past the hill on the opposite side of the gravel road. Hmmm. Cattle. Manure. I made a connection!

This bovine was over the hill across the gravel road from the spreader/manure pile. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


(Click on photo to enlarge the "bleep" text on this sign.)

So, I stopped and took photos of the cattle. Then I drove back to near the manure pile and saw the farmer’s pickup (which was there the first time I went past.) On the rear window of the pickup was a sign, which, if I had seen it in the Target parking lot, or if Jackson was with me and could read it, I’d think it was highly inappropriate. Somehow, seeing it out in this field, it seemed to fit. I made another connection!!! Boy, I’m really learning now!

This pile is the same field as in the first photo. The windmill was not in this field. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

After taking many photos, I drove the rest of the way to Rolfe, scanning the countryside for another operating tractor/manure spreader. I didn’t see any, but from a distance, took photos of anything that might have been a stationary manure spreader. (When I got home, at closer inspection, I realized that almost all of the maybe-a-manure-spreader photos were of something else.)

Once in Rolfe I ran several errands and did some work at Gunderland, all the while hoping that on my drive back to Perry the next day, the same guy would be out spreading manure north of Jefferson.

Since this is such a cliff-hanger, I’ll post Part II mid-week.

* * * * * * * *

After I post Part II, I’ll stay out of the manure talk and probably move on to a post about Mother’s watercolors of the Pocahontas grain elevator. Or, something else!

*I later learned it was a Chandler litter spreader.

(Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.)


Tags: ,

10 Responses to “I Stepped in It (Part I)”

  1. Clara Hoover Says:

    Well, at least you weren’t in “deep doo doo.” I’m really surprised you didn’t ask the farmer to make another round just so you could tag along.

    Your last paragraph is quite a segue. There’s more to the story?!

  2. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    Clara: Yes! There’s more! When I initially “published” Part I, I had yet to add that there would be a Part II. So, yes, there’s more. It might be anticlimactic, but the post would have been too long to combine Part I and Part II.

    As far as asking the farmer to make another round, if he hadn’t pulled onto the road…well…I was going to at least ask him how soon he might be making another round. I sat in the car on the highway shoulder for about 15 minutes thinking that for sure he was just going to fill the spreader again and go for another round.

  3. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    P.S., Clara: I’m glad I wasn’t in “deep doo doo” too!

  4. Peg Moore Says:

    Hahaha! Cliff-hanger–fun! 🙂

    And I’m proud of you for following your instincts–for stopping to smell the flowers (or, in this case, the manure ;-)). It’s so much of what makes life and your blogs and YOU so rich! It reminds me of one of my favorite quotations (which you’re probably familiar with, since I just included it in our Christmas letter, but here it is again):

    “It isn’t the great big pleasures that count the most; it’s making a great deal out of the little ones” (Jean Webster, Daddy Long-Legs).

    Btw, awesome picture of the “bovine”! 🙂 (I’d forgotten that word. See, you’re increasing my vocabulary, too! :-))

  5. Marti Says:

    Hah, as I posted on Facebook, it takes a red-blooded born and bred farmer’s daughter to so openly post about stepping in manure, and another to truly appreciate it!

  6. Audrey E. Simonson Says:

    Thanks, Louise, for reminding me of many years of stepping in “it” and
    for reminding all of us that life is too short to make a big deal out of a little “doo-doo”.
    You inspire me to start getting in print the little anecdotes of life on the farm. I’m writing an essay/book with photos about “Farming in Northwest Iowa at the Turn of the Century (2000)”

  7. Patti Collett Says:

    Aah, Louise, If a little chicken manure is the worst thing you ever step in, consider yourself lucky. It could have been pig!! UUG!! I very much enjoy your blog. It brings back so many memories. Patti

  8. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    Peg, Marti, Audrey and Patti: Thank you for your fun encouragement. It is SO fun to sit down at the computer and see that people enjoy the blog and use a part of their limited supply of time and effort to comment. As rural Iowa girls, I know we all can appreciate that manure does have its valuable place in agriculture. Patti and Audrey, are you around manure (like literally!) much in your adult years, and/or were you in your youth?

    Peg: I’m glad you reminded me of the quote. I LOVED it when I read it in your Christmas letter, and I’m glad you reminded me of it again in your comment. And, thank you for your encouragement. I love it all, especially your third sentence.

    Audrey: I hope you’ll let me know when your essay/book is complete. I think so many people think that ***their parents*** should be the ones recording the anecdotes, when actually no one is too young to do so (which, from your comment, I know you realize that is true). When Mother first had the vision for Rolfe’s oral history project, she was 59 years old (or maybe even younger). That’s just four years older than I am right now. Yet, she made a handful of recordings of her oral history, not considering herself “too young” to do so. I’m looking forward to your stories of life on the farm. Hmmm…with your comment, I’m thinking of a lot more things I should get recorded.

    Patti: 1,000 smiles! Thank you.

  9. Sue Reigelsberger Says:

    I am the daughter of a ‘cattleman’. Our yard smelled like various animals, as we also had some pigs. My ‘city’ friends, always told me that was the smell of money…………. Nope, smelled like p**p to me!! Funny how sensitive I am to those smells today.

  10. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    Sue: I don’t remember who I used to hear say it, but that’s the saying I used to hear. Oh, and it smelled like what?????!!!

    If you ever told me, I had forgotten that your father had cattle. It probably smelled bad but was a great environment to be raised in. I assume you would agree.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: