Fecal matters

This is supposedly a true story. An elderly relative bought a bag of “instant fertilizer” — a big plastic bag of dirt with circles painted on the side, so you could just plop the bag down in your garden, cut holes at the circles, put plants in, and be ready. (We don’t need no steenking flower pots round here!)

This relative planted, instead of flowers, some potatoes, and pleased with her cleverness put the bag to a corner of her garden, and waited. In the fullness of time, she harvested the potatoes, cooked them… and found the fertilizer had been so terribly strong and acrid the potatoes tasted of it and were altogether inedible. Her words, as I recall them, were the taste was like that of cat urine. I do not know how she knew; but I’ve heard times were tough in the old days.

Now, let us use that as springboard to this thought: cat droppings are too acrid to be used as a fertilizer for food crops. This is a great relief, though some students may curse thinking this, and looking at their pet, sure that a chance to earn a few bucks just slipped by. (“Here kitty kitty… no, not the sandbox. This funnel here… No sandbox! Here kitty…”)

As I’ve understood it, cow and horse dung is often used as a fertilizer. (The latter’s even called “horse apples”. The former, “cow pies” in English; “slide mines” in Finnish. Because if you step in one, you’re likely to become such a casualty. Liukumiina, pl. liukumiinat.) For one reason or the other, as far as I know, pet droppings are not used as a fertilizer. This then leaves one particular kind of an animal… and to begin with, I’ve heard diabetic urine is rich in sugar. The problem is, to get at it you’d have to build separate toilets for diabetics. But if you go with that insanity instead of fighting it, why not have separate ones for those with a lot of fiber in their diet; for those that eat a lot of meat; you could produce dozens of different kinds of fertilizer! Most ought to be good for some particular crop or the other. (Though I think using it “raw” would be a health hazard. “And our next contestant is Joey, a technician at the Yucca Flats Hi-Fatty Humanure Composterodrome! So, you looking at me with avarice, Joey? Eh, heh heh! ‘If I could just-a get my hands under that guy I’d be set for life’, righty-o? Hur hur hur!“)

Or maybe you could have just one kind of a toilet, or two if you insist on the containment of cooties, but have a sorting mechanism in it. “Be sure to press the right flush button, my love! You’ve been eating veggies all week!” (“Uggh this medication makes me feel funny. See, it’s brown triangle and all. I’ve been shitting straight into the unusable bin all week.”)

“Clyde Hoover from Fecaureus Services, good day. Are you getting ripped for shit? Your night soil is valuable — we know it is so, because you subscribe to Sugoi!, the Diabetic’s Magazine — and you deserve a fair deal for it. With Fecaureus, no more lugging your bins to a central depot — one of our handsome, hygienic and highly skilled Collection Technicians unburdens you of the contents of your privy once a week, ensuring you are never, like they say in my native Brooklyn, “shit full”. We are discrete, we are tidy, and we’re never late! And we at Fecaureus pay top dollar for your shit! No shit! By dry weight, we pay at least 20% more than the average, guaranteed! To get a free estimate of your lower income with Fecaureus, a fascinating one hundred dollar value personal estimate, call now! I am Clyde Hoover… and I want your shit.”

Okay; this is about as far as I can stretch this particular line of thought.

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