03 September 2010

Day 160: My Empire of Dirt

My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard into a Farm by Manny Howard.  ISBN: 9781416585169.

So I talked a little bit yesterday about caring for plants.  But I bet you didn't know I actually worked on a farm for a few weekends when I was an undergraduate.  One of the professors lived on a couple of acres and he raised turkeys and vegetables mostly.  A friend and I went out to repair a wooden fence.  This was work I really got into.

Howard didn't much appreciate it because he felt his fence was just aesthetic.  I'm sure his neighbors would disagree with him.  People just don't expect chickens to wander into their yards in big cities.  The professor's was less of a partition fence and more of a corral for the turkeys.

The first step in fixing the fence was to determine which parts of the wood were rotten.  This was accomplished by using the claw of a hammer or the point of a knife.  There's something very satisfying about finding the rotten wood, the way the knife just sinks into it.  Some pieces were so rotten that you'd whack the board with the hammer and it would completely break in two.  Replacing the boards often took two people, one to hold it in place and the other to hammer it down.  Then we would paint it.  We must have replaced 60-some feet of fence over the course of several weekends.

And then there were the turkeys.  We weren't really required to do anything with them, but when the professor asked me to feed the turkeys I was all for it.  It consisted of taking a bucket of table scraps and tossing it the yard and then calling the turkeys.  I did this, only to see the flock rushing towards me and gobbling angrily.  Not knowing what else to do, I turned and bolted back towards the house while my friend sat there laughing her ass off.  I yelled at her to open the door, it was something along the lines of, "Oh shit, oh shit, open the door!"  Of course when I turned around I saw the professors huge dog* herding the turkeys towards to food (and therefore me).

I doubt the turkeys would have actually hurt me, but at the time I panicked and had no clue what else to do.  It's kind of hard to think rationally when you have about twelve 20 pound birds coming at you at what seems an impossible speed for mostly flightless birds.  Turkeys, I have no qualms eating them after that experience.

*He came up to my thigh and I'm 5'8".

My first encounter with this book was via the Colbert Report.  However, I found this to be a pretty accurate review, although I only gave it three stars.


  1. Lol. I think besides chicken, turkey is the only bird I've ever eaten. My grandma had chickens when I was very little but I didn't see a turkey until I was older. It was a wild one and we almost ran it over with the car. Those things are huge!

  2. I've eaten a number of birds: pigeon, goose, ostrich (as jerky), duck. I'm all about the fowls. Wild turkeys are pretty amazing, they're supposed to be extremely smart too. It's a very interesting animal, I think. I mean, it managed to be somehow ugly and beautiful at the same time.


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