Friday, October 30, 2009

An award winning piece, and an essay on chicken poop.

LISA IN REDS AND GREENS is a 5x7 pastel on PastelBord. Not for sale.
You've seen this one before on this blog. I had mentioned that I really liked it. Looks like I may know what I'm talking about. It was one of the winners in the recent American Impressionist Society National Exhibition in Denver.

So I was out in the yard on this cool drizzly next-to-the-last-day of October, scraping up chicken poop. No, we don't own chickens, although I always thought I'd like to. I always thought it'd be nice to go on daily egg hunts. And I've always heard fresh, home grown eggs taste better. And the chicken poop would undoubtedly make my flower garden glorious (I have since given up ever trying to grow vegetables. Ever). So Ben told our friends, Miriam and Houston, that I might like to have some of their chicken poop for my garden. They were more than happy to oblige. Ben came home one day this summer with two huge containers of black mush, which smelled suspiciously like, well, you know.

I was a little bewildered, because I had imagined that chicken poop would be dry, almost granular, and easy to scoop and spread around. I wasn't quite sure what to do with this. I thanked Ben profusely, then got my trowel and scooped a little out and tried to spread it on top of the soil. It didn't spread, it stayed in a gooey clump. I tried chopping it, smearing it, stirring it. Very distressing. And surprisingly smelly. I had no idea chicken poop would actually smell like, well, you know.

Needless to say, I was a little daunted with the enormous amount of the stuff. So we've been maneuvering our cars around the two containers in the driveway. They've been there for months, getting rained on, waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought Ben would magically make them disappear.

And it finally happened. I must have run over one with my car, while trying to evade the awkwardly parked truck. I let that sit for a couple of days, thinking Ben might make it magically disappear. But he finally said, "When are you going to do something with that chicken poop (he didn't use that word)? "Oh, was all that for me?" I asked.

So today in the drizzle I scraped and slung and sweated and stunk. But I think I actually am the winner here. I dumped quite a bit of it in an area that hasn't been, but will be a new garden bed next spring, much to Ben's chagrin. Ben'll never know what hit him.


  1. INCREDIBLE! Your way with words is fabulous! Your painting is so deserving of wonderful awards but your writing has me in stitches!!
    By the way, the reason you can't understand what makes men tick is that their thinking apparatus descended along with other things at puberty!!

  2. From Cindy Michaud:

    Margaret – I was howling over the chicken poop story (mostly because my husband and I play that “leave it there hoping the other will solve it” game) but FYI: chicken poop needs very careful processing! I know because I made the mistake of telling my entrepreneurial teen age son that of course he could raise chickens in our backyard AFTER a trip to zoning (which, darn it, seemed to endorse the idea). Well, a very long story short, after he established an egg route he thought he could make additional $ selling the poop for fertilizer. Turns out that full strength it contains too much acid, or something, and burned the hell out of tomatoes etc. It has to be spread out, sorta, dried, chopped up and mixed with something neutral like dirt and then can be used like fertilizer. This was way too much work for what the average home gardener is willing to pay for poop. It is much easier to bag it all up and leave it on the doorstep of some unsuspecting, unknowledgeable sucker next door!! In fact, chickens are very prolific with sharing the poop so don’t be surprised if you find another bag and another on your doorstep, as it needs to be removed from the coop on a weekly basis…..have fun!!

  3. Congratulations on the award! AND, your story made me laugh...can't wait to meet you. Hope your registrations are going well for France, you are in for a real treat!

  4. Congrats on your well deserved award! I have tears in my eyes over your chicken poop story! Too funny!

  5. Congratulations on the painting! Soooo beautiful, the composition is so compelling! And as for the chicken s*it, I'll take some, for my garden...