45. Talking Shift (07/2011)
The so called ‘waste’ from one organism becomes the sustenance of another in the great cycle and recycling within ecosystems on earth. In the perfect world before we got here, nature had kept a pristine balance. Appropriate personal waste elimination is another way of caring that seems to have been lost on us, but most other animals deal with their ordure purposefully, whether they consider it or not.
Taking the trouble to bury their burden cats, supposedly one of the cleanest animals can hold their heads high (and haunches low) with pride for this conveniently sanitary habit that can also be redirected with customary feline vengeance. I knew one cat who regularly expressed his disapproval of the music being broadcast from his household’s then fashionable ghetto blaster tape deck, by stepping on the eject button and offloading into the cassette loader! In this department dogs can be even craftier setting their landmines precisely where somebody passing with their head in the clouds will step in order to contribute to the nourishment of verdant lawns.
For potency and relatively even dissemination poultry excel. Turkeys roosting in the quince trees produce nocturnal stalagmites and maybes of high nitrogen intensely basting the surface roots feeding the trees’ emerging shoots. Geese parading a field, keeping the grass short and greener on this side, spread their rich, sloppy droppings over a huge area, followed by a good rear rinse in the nearest bidet where microscopic water creatures can also flourish.
Cattle dump effortlessly drawing a crowd of flies and beetles providing them a brief spate of community living close to the earth. Creative farmers follow the bovine herd with chickens making morsels of high protein grubs while scattering a pat pitter. Nothing settles where chickens scratch as they work over and fertilize their patch.
Party poopers that they are, hippopotami wield their ingenious dung spreading apparatus in the form of swizzle tails that twirl during a motion effectively distributing the good stuff. The tremendous potency of sheep pellets is ready made ‘bounce back’ gently scattered by the flocks bouncing off the rocks, spreading their bound up nutrients and seeds, primed for germination of flowers and weeds. Pigs with a smile make a convenient pile and pray every day someone will take it away, for mud should not be allowed to get dirty, just right for getting flirty.
Ambergris matures its mysterious olfactory qualities while bobbing about in the ocean long after the whale has migrated to fairer shores obliviously leaving us to muse over the benefits of this latent leviathan treasure.
Humans as usual resort to the most wasteful, ill-considered way to dispose of their unwanted solids generally choosing to close the lid and flush away the most useful byproduct of our encounter with the planet. Recycling, reusing, reducing meat consumption, driving less, cutting carbon footprint, and growing one’s own food, are all very worthy, but still generally lacking are useful schemes for excrement utilization. Dry toilets in a dry country make absolute sense. The best options are either composting loos with or without red wriggler earthworms, or a simple bucket and sawdust/grass clippings system that can be regularly added to a humanure heap. After a year the compost can be used very effectively in the orchard eliminating the need for vast, reeking cesspits, and saving water (and undesirable splashing).
Just when many people have almost forgotten the traditional outhouse it becomes valid much in the same way that we salvage languages, species, cultures, customs, common sense and ancient wisdom.