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02 Sep 2014
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Holy Shit

Author: Gene Logsdon
Pub: Chelsea Green Publishing
Price: £14.95
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Holy Shit; Managing manure to save mankind bookcoverAmerican farmer and self-confessed expert on manure, Gene Logsdon, is on a mission to get us all talking about the value of shit. And that’s not just your regular horse, cow and sheep poo, but dog dung, cat litter, even human faeces, not to mention more ‘off beat’ manures from bats (a highly desirable fertilizer, apparently) and pigeons. As a mother of a toddler, I think I deal with a fair amount of shit on a daily basis, but could I be missing a trick?
Logsdon wants us to appreciate the potential in ‘a good healthy bowel movement’, to manage this natural resource – especially in light of the dissatisfaction with chemical fertilizers in farming – and realise the value of manure as humus and fertilizer. (Where there’s muck there’s brass, as the saying goes.) Logsdon’s belief is that ‘only on smaller, decentralized farms and gardens can food and manure be managed in a truly economical way’.
Despite being a humorous, if somewhat gross in places (see chapter 18 – ‘Dealing with Our Dread of Human Excrement’) read, Holy Shit would be of most interest to someone with a small-holding or similar. A lot of the ideas, for instance the use of outhouses and dry toilets, are more geared up to the rural rather than the urban dweller.
Saying that, the chapter on composting dog and cat poo is interesting for any pet owner. Logsdon refutes the idea that using pet poo compost on your garden is dangerous by pointing out that ‘it takes only a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy roundworm eggs and less than that for other internal parasites, and that temperature is easily reached in a compost pile’.
Holy Shit is not a practical guide to actually using manure, but an interesting introduction to appreciating its value. An ideal book for the bathroom pile, perhaps?

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