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Despite This we stay- Mar. 12, 2009

The Smell of Money

by Carol Dunn

LA VETA- To some of us, the smell of manure may be objectionable.  But to the farmers and ranchers of Huerfano County, and all of the West for that matter, it’s the smell of money.  Breathe deeply – ahhhh.  If you’ve ever lived in or even visited Greeley, you’ll know what I mean.  

    When city folks get out to the country for a visit, they more or less expect to smell manure.  Oh sure, they gag and act like it’s disgusting, but they would miss it if it wasn’t here.  The same thing happens in the various agriculture-related meetings that are held around the County.  It is not permissable to be surprised (or gag) if you smell manure during a meeting of the Stockgrowers, for instance.  Ok, I mean animal manure.  And it is especially not cool to mention it.  “Excuse me, but did you know you have cow poopy on your boot?”  You should be more surprised if the guy sitting next to you with a stiff spray of a suspicious brown substance on his pant leg actually notices the odor.  If it gets warm and the meeting goes long, some less-ranchy-types may start to swoon, and he won’t even know why.  Hey, manure happens. 

    If you are visiting an office that serves farmers and ranchers, you may notice an occasional brown lump that used to be stuck in the tread of a shoe.  Don’t be surprised if it’s the smell of money.  And don’t be too quick to turn your nose up at agriculture – about 12 million dollars of Huerfano County ag products are sold each year, mostly cattle, horses and hay (although, I’m positive that chickens and turkeys are on the list).  Throw in Pueblo, Las Animas and Costilla Counties and it’s almost 114 awesome million dollars, including such delectable treats as alligators, tilapia and zucchini.  Hug a rancher today!  Unless you are Biff in the movie Back to the Future, you’ve got to learn to love manure.

    We Dunns are not cattle barons.  We raise chickens.  Ranchers laugh at that, but I’ve had my experience with an ornery bull, and I figured I’d move on to something that cannot crush me against the wall of the barn.  Last year, a fellow who looked like he knew what he was talking about told me if you spend enough time around chickens, their manure starts to smell sweet.  Not long after that I began selling our chickens.  I can put up with pulled muscles and broken fingernails and arthritis and cow patties on the county roads, but I prefer not to have my olfactory permanently corrupted, even by the smell of money. ­