Fresh??? spring air

I can smell spring coming. No-it’s not the fresh spring breeze that laundry detergent manufacturers like to try to imitate. Spring air might smell like Tide or Downy in the mountains or along the seashore, but not on the northern plains. Early spring breezes along the 100th Meridian don’t smell anything like laundry soap. Here they smell like several months worth of accumulated methane. As the feed lot thaws out, the law of thermodynamics kicks into action and all those gas particles migrate from the thawing cow pies to my front door. That wouldn’t be so bad, except thawed products of rumination also cling to coveralls and boots, so the odor follows them into the mudroom. Even if it is the smell of money like my rancher insists, I’d rather it stayed outside.

When my entry starts smelling like the feed lot, it’s time for another early spring ritual. My washing machine shakes off the winter doldrums and starts working out to keep up with the increased volume of muddy rugs and mucky coveralls. My washing machines usually start making funny noises fairly early in their life expectancy. I’m not surprised. With the farm population at less than 2% of the United States total, the people that manufacture washing machines probably don’t have a farm or ranch background and consequently have no clue what “heavy duty” really means.

Have you ever seen a laundry soap commercial where the lady put manure covered Carhartt's in the machine? At least the “Spring Rain” flavored laundry soap combats the feedlot “perfume”.

The sewer lagoons in our local communities are governed by the same laws of physics that the feed lots are. Woe to those individuals that live downwind on the day the ice breaks up and the wind is brisk.

Skunks come out of hibernation and stumble on to the roads where they get run over. My rancher has tried many times to run over a skunk fast enough to keep it from smelling up his car and failed every time. He’s concluded it just isn’t possible. Maybe if he used a Ferrari….but you all need to eat more beef for that to happen!

Another rural spring perfume is O’ deau Tom Cat which doesn't smell anything like Tommy Girl. A spring hint: Don't leave the tractor door open for any length of time if you have a resident tom.

It's a testimony to the length and severity of our South Dakota winters that those smells are welcome at the end of one!

March 2004