Managing Manure to Save Mankind
By Gene Logsdon
In his insightful new book, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, contrary farmer Gene Logsdon provides the inside story of manure-our greatest, yet most misunderstood, natural resource. He begins by lamenting a modern society that not only throws away both animal and human manure-worth billions of dollars in fertilizer value-but that spends a staggering amount of money to do so. This wastefulness makes even less sense as the supply of mined or chemically synthesized fertilizers dwindles and their cost skyrockets. In fact, he argues, if we do not learn how to turn our manures into fertilizer to keep food production in line with increasing population, our civilization, like so many that went before it, will inevitably decline.
With his trademark humor, his years of experience writing about both farming and waste management, and his uncanny eye for the small but important details, Logsdon artfully describes how to manage farm manure, pet manure and human manure to make fertilizer and humus. He covers the field, so to speak, discussing topics like:
- How to select the right pitchfork for the job and use it correctly
- How to operate a small manure spreader
- How to build a barn manure pack with farm animal manure
- How to compost cat and dog waste
- How to recycle toilet water for irrigation purposes, and
- How to get rid ourselves of our irrational paranoia about feces and urine.
Gene Logsdon does not mince words. This fresh, fascinating and entertaining look at an earthy, but absolutely crucial subject, is a small gem and is destined to become a classic of our agricultural literature.
Reviews and Praise
Common sense and just the right amount of folksy humor make this treatise on feces a pleasure to read whether or not you've ever knowingly come within 50 miles of a compost heap. Logsdon writes for a wide scope: how to recognize a manure spreader for those who don't know; the finer points of old-fashioned pitchfork tines, for readers who actually use them. In addition to lots of clear DIY instructions for utilizing waste, Logsdon, a blogging farmer in Ohio, draws from his boyhood experience during the days of the privy, his Amish neighbors, and his understanding of how ancient China saw agricultural productivity rates the likes of which we've never had in the U.S. Ultimately, the real coup here is that this book overcomes the yuck factor and illustrates how, as with many things American, we've taken a natural, healthy, efficient system and replaced it with something expensive, toxic, and marketable - in this case, chemical fertilizers. As food locavores gain visibility and popularity, so too should the rear end of sustainable farming practices.
“Holy Shit is a national treasure, a book so right it rings the Liberty Bell on every other page. What carries this book along is how Logsdon disarms you with his wit, his country charm, and his experience—this book would mean next to nothing had it come from a research department at a university. However, reading about Gene on his family’s farm, spreading manure on the fields, or putting down additional bedding in the chicken coop, makes his answers to our wrongly perceived problems seem like the only answers. I can see many, many people taking issue with what Logsdon has written, and if he didn’t have experience—both his own and human history dating back thousands of years—Logsdon might be banished to the outhouse. However, history is with Logsdon, and we would all do well to get to know manure a little more intimately. Who would have thought our salvation could come through shit?”--Todd Simmons, MatterDaily
"In the revolution Gene Logsdon envisions, we need pitchforks, but not to mount the barricades. And what a joyful, reverent, irreverent, hard-working, down-to-earth, realistic, Whitmanesque, animal-loving, microbe-nurturing, compost-making, farmer-sensical, manure-pitching revolution it is!"--Woody Tasch, author of Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered
"In our family we have a standard joke that every conversation, even around the dinner table, eventually winds up about manure. And Gene Logsdon, in his naughty and inimical style, has captured the essence of soil building, pathogen control, food ecology, and farm economics by explaining the elegantly simple symbiosis between manure and carbon. What a great addition to the eco-food and farming movement. Logsdon's deep bedding approach for livestock housing, elegantly explained and defended, is the primary fertility engine that drives all of us beyond organic farmers. Read and heed."--Joel Salatin, Author of You Can Farm and The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer
"With a combination of deep knowledge, longtime farming experience, and great humor, Gene Logsdon tells us everything we don't know about human and animal wastes, and what to do about it. As the author writes, 'Sooner or later we have to live in the same world as our colons.' Not to mention the wastes of all the animals we raise for food! This is the book to read if you give a crap about crap."--Sim Van der Ryn, Author of The Toilet Papers
"No one knows more about the backside of agriculture (and the front side, and everything in between) than Gene Logsdon, truly one of the shrewdest practitioners and wisest observers of farming and agriculture. He doesn't care much for social taboos or politeness, and challenges us to see land, animals, ourselves, and yeah, shit, as parts of one system--whole and undefiled--and maybe discover the Holy in the excremental. This is Logsdon at his best; Holy Shit is a national treasure."--David Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, and Senior Adviser to the President, Oberlin College
"This could very well be one of the most important books ever written. Few people realize that the subject of excrement is so critically important, complex, and timely. Thankfully, Gene Logsdon has provided humanity with a literary gift that addresses this most basic and fundamental subject with wisdom, humor, poetry and reverence. Holy Shit belongs in every bathroom in every home. The book is great. I love it."--Joseph Jenkins, Author of The Humanure Handbook
"Gene Logsdon is one of only three people I know who are able to make a living exclusively out of writing what should be common sense. Here he has done it again."--Wes Jackson, President of The Land Institute