Camping made up most of our vacations as I grew up. Living in Maryland, we had the choice of traveling west to the Cactoctin Mountain range or head east to the water. I lived in a camping family and each summer we would head west to what we, in Maryland, call mountains. I do not know what constitutes a mountain but the ones I have seen in Colorado or other states makes ours look like hills. Maryland is relatively flat when comparing sea level heights.
Camping took us out of the city and into the hills. Once there and setup our father would inevitably find a farm near by and purchase what ever they had. The larges might serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I remember the smells most of all, walking into a horse barn to ride horses or passing a field that was being fertilized. When I inquired, I was told it was fresh air that I was smelling.
It was a different smell than I had experienced in the City. Except when the Arabber would come by and the horse would leave fertilizer, which my father was quick to get for his own garden (see "A City Boy's Education").
Their answer about fresh air made sense to me. Having had my olfactory senses assaulted as we pass the waste disposal site on a summer day in Baltimore or passing a brewery or other manufacturing plant, you could quantify their answers. I think that because of their answer I always associated manure smells with fresh air. It is an oxymoron for most people I admit that, but there is a speckle of truth too.
Being outside and away from suburban and urban settings the air was different. Yes, I was smelling manure but at the same time, it was associated with fresh air and fun. I point to that time as the beginning of my education on manures. When fields are spread with manure I can tell you, what kind of manure it is by the smell. This skill will get me nowhere and it is not something that is discussed at cocktail parties or family gatherings. Are there cocktail parties any more?
I digress, of all the manures; horse manure is the best smelling to me. That goes back to my youth and riding horses. The worst of the worst is pig manure. I am sorry to all my swine friends but that is how I feel. When we first started looking for a small farm, we stopped at a pig operation. I still shudder at the thought of that experience.
I love pork, bacon, sausage, chops, ribs you name it, except for the more exotic stuff like feet and snout, I will eat pork. That manure smell though is polar opposites of horse or cow manure. Even chicken and turkey smells better and poultry manure has an ammonia smell.
Like I said, this skill will never amount to anything but it is a just another link in a chain that has led me here. Besides, everyone knows manure smells.
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