Saturday, 12 March 2011


So half past eight this morning, the Man with the Manure was sitting with his truck by the allotment gate waiting for us to let him in. And it turned out I knew the Man with the Manure. His name is Paul and his parents used to own the riding stables I learnt to ride at as a child.

Now, when I found the Man with the Manure aka Paul on ebay, his advert said he would deliver '2 and a half cubic metres of horse manure' but I wasn't really sure what two and a half cubic metres of manure looked like. I did a spot of wild measuring in the kitchen, paced about a bit, and decided it was 'that much.'

That's okay, I thought. We can dig that into the allotment no probs, maybe get him to deliver another load if necessary.

However, it seems that two and a half cubic metres of horse manure takes up a lot more space than two and a half cubic metres of kitchen air. There is a subtle difference in aroma too.

Blimey! Once it had been dumped from the back of the truck, we were shovelling sh...barrow loads for three hours and a half hours!!! Okay, the hours were punctuated with digging over the polytunnel, pruning the soft fruit and transplanting the strawberry runners, but we didn't half move some manure, and there is still a third of the pile left to redistribute.

It was steaming, too, like a smelly sauna. It reminded me a bit of when my parents had a mushroom farm. Every Friday morning, 36 tonnes of horse manure would arrive on site and before we had a mechanised filling line we had to shovel it all into the growing trays by hand. Well, by spade.

And as I shovelled, and Andy spread, and the allotment became covered with eau de parfum de cheveaux, the only thing I could think was 'I really want a farm.'

We had a high old time allotmenteering this morning. The sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze. Ladybirds and bees and worms were plentiful, and little buds were showing their faces on the fruit bushes. The daffodils were opening and all was looking good.

So, the question is - 'How much is two and a half cubic metres of horse manure?'

And the answer is (according to my achy muscles) 'About 57 hot, smelly, steamy tonnes.'

And shall I be calling the Man with the Manure to deliver us another load?

Not bloomin' likely!

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