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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Of horsh, fece, and June bugs

Stephen V. Geddes

Many years ago I spent a week in New Albany, Indiana.  I don't remember how old I was--5 or 6, maybe--but I felt blessed since I was staying with my grandparents while my parents were who knows where.  It really didn't matter.  I totally trusted my grandmas and grandpas (and my Aunt Winnie and Uncle Stu, too, for that matter.)  That summer I was entrusted to both sets of grandparents.  They lived 5 blocks away from each other on East Elm street (813 & 1312, I think.)  I could, and did, walk from house to house.  If I was followed, I was unaware.  I suspect I was.   

One day I spied a pretty bug in one back yard.  I believe I caught it in a cup and asked what it was.  It was a June bug.  It didn't bite.  I was given a length of thread and learned how to tie one end to one of the bug's hind legs.  The other end attached to my shirt.  The June bug spent time crawling on my shirt and flying around my head, literally.  I don't remember just what happened, but the bug eventually regained its freedom.  In any case, one episode of being a bug master was enough for me, memorable though it was.

Recently my brother gave me a chance to correct a deficiency in my education.  It seems having found himself the manager of a small horse farm, he, somehow, decided I could use a bit of additional training and education.  So, throwing my somewhat comfortable (if minimalistic) retirement to the wind, I began a five day a week part-time job as a worker of horses or, in any case, a worker in horsh.  But, you say, I digress?  Nay, I say--no digression at all. 

Horsh is the factor that ties the two subjects together, nicely.  In my work on the farm, I have a distinct interaction with the stuff, an interaction that dovetails nicely with my wastewater treatment management training of years past.  You see, wastewater treatment generates a goodly amount of solid waste.  Horsh (trust me on this) is the epitome of solid waste.  Start with a pristine green pasture and introduce a horse.  Provide a short period of time and, voila!  Horsh. 

Now, given a large enough pasture, no thought need be given to the horsh.  Still, if the pasture is relatively small (at which time you may tend to call it a paddock,) and the horse-to-grass ratio is relatively large, the horsh becomes a problem if it is not regularly removed.  Enter the solid waste technician, one of many newly acquired titles awaiting entry to my resume.  Given the technician, a wheel barrow, a stable rake, and adequate time and inclination the horsh ceases to be a problem and, as brother's veterinarian will attest, it turns into a small operator's version of "black gold."  So far I have learned about the "black" portion of Harvey's nomenclature for the horsh.  I guess the "gold" will follow as the composted material begins to work its wonders on sister-in-law's garden.    

Now that was a genuine digression--but I liked it.  As I was engaging in my solid waste control function one day last week, I noticed an interesting phenomenon.  One of the horse's fece's, instead of just lying there, was engaging in a bit of self animation, or so it seemed.  Watching this mobile fece for about a minute resolved the question and produced an energetic June bug to boot.  How fitting, I thought, to find a June bug in South Carolina early in the month of June.  If I ever wondered where the June bugs in my grandparents' back yards had come from, I now knew the answer--they came from South Carolina.  I guess the one I found was worried about his one piece of horsh, given that most of the pile had already been relocated to the wheel barrow.  To keep his little piece of home intact, the June bug was attempting to move it to a safer location.  In his attempt, he impressed me as being every bit as strong as an ant, were the ant his size.  He was moving a horse fece that was about the size of a squashed peach, or a very large plum, and, as such was considerably larger than the bug.  Had I super-glued a quarter to the bug's iridescent green back, I would be able to see some of its legs protruding from the conjunction, but that would be about all.  The red head would also be obscured by the quarter, with, perhaps, just a bit of antennae visible.  Which is why I initially wondered what the fece was doing moving around.  The bug was totally obscured, trying, one might theorize, to balance the fece on its back.  When he finally gave up on that idea and began trying to push it or roll it as it turned out, both I and the bug gained the needed enlightenment.

In thinking the bug was trying to save his little piece of heaven, I might be engaging in a bit too much anthropomorphism.  Could be he was just out exercising, and would have been moving that fece around even if I had not disturbed his pile of horsh.  After all, he probably would need a good bit of strength and endurance if he were planning on making a flight to Southern Indiana any time soon.

     P.S.--my Webster's unabridged does not mention horsh or fece.   Horsh came to me via a New Zealander friend of my wife's.  She (Jennie Neuman) mentioned they had quite a bit of sheepsh and a little less horsh in New Zealand.  Referencing my profession, she said the least quantity of all was probably the humsh they, too, had.  "Fece," of course, is the singular of "feces," in this little work--whether or not it is recognized by Webster.