Sunday, April 29, 2012

Good Smells and Bad Smells

The laundry room smells like cows. Kelly has been meeting at a local dairy farm a couple of times a week to practice for a Future Farmers of America cow judging competition. She’s been learning what constitutes good cow conformation and the difference between a Jersey cow and a Holstein. The Jerseys have feminine heads. That’s what she told me. They must be the ones I see in the children’s books with the long eyelashes and cow bells around their necks. They are usually named Elsie.

Kelly wears big rubber boots when she goes to these meetings at the dairy farms and when she comes home, she is reeking. I don’t know what they do over there—roll around in the stuff? As soon as I walked into the laundry room last night, I said, “Oh, Kelly is back.” Even though she was nowhere in sight.

It would be hard to live near a dairy farm. They really stink. One time I was on line behind a lady in Shop-Rite and I knew she lived on a dairy farm because I could smell her. I wonder if they notice it, living right there? Still, I’d rather live next to a dairy farm than where I grew up in Jersey City where the air was thick with exhaust and the sickeningly sweet smell of the purple dye factory on the highway. Or by the fish factory in Port Monmouth. But I didn’t mind living near IFF (International Flavors and Fragrances) in Union Beach. When they’re running, the air smells like perfume. When I was a bartender at the Cambridge, the guys would come in and give me samples of White Diamonds and Polo in small, unmarked bottles with black plastic caps. Everybody smells good in Union Beach.

I purposely put my manure pile behind the barn so it wouldn’t bother the neighbors across the street. I don’t think they can smell it. I’ve already got someone coming to take it for his garden. I’m talking about a big garden. He’s a farmer. He came three times already and we use the tractor to scoop up the manure and dump it into the bed of his truck. It falls with a plop and overflows. If he hits a bump when he leaves, balls of manure bounce out and land in the driveway.

Someday I want to have a big garden. I’m curious to see how I do in New Jersey since the neighbors in Virginia were amazed at the bounty I had, being someone who comes from Jersey City where the exhaust is thick and the only yard was the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the street. One time someone planted pansies in the grass. There were little popsicle sticks in the ground that said pansies in black Magic Marker; that’s how I knew what they were.

It wasn’t my mother. My mother couldn’t keep a philodendron going. You’d give her an Easter plant and she’d leave it in the purple foil on the windowsill until it died. Mrs. Pontius on the first floor must have planted them. She wore a dress like the nuns wore only it was a color and it had a pattern on it like checks or flowers, and an apron and clunky shoes. I’d go to the store for her. I’d knock on her door and say, “Mrs. Pontius, do you need anything from the store?” She’d give me a quarter for going. I’d always refuse it but she’d insist I take it, sometimes grabbing me and shoving it into my pocket herself and then slamming the door. Secretly, I was hoping she’d make me take it.

The rich people who lived in the single families up the street had pussywillows in their yards behind wrought-iron fences. They also had statues of the Virgin Mary under cement domes painted blue and white and stone birdbaths. I’d like to get some pussywillows someday. I also like hydrangeas. And geraniums. If it’s an old timey thing, I like it. Lilacs are my favorite. But they don’t make ‘em like they used to. When we had to tear out the old lilac bushes at the Jackson house because it was the only spot to put in the new septic tank, it broke my heart and Kurt went out and got me some new lilac bushes. But they weren’t the same. They were scrubby and there was no smell.

I was surprised there were no lilac bushes here at the yellow house because it’s an old farmhouse and that’s what those ladies planted back then. Actually, I was pretty disappointed. But I was wrong. There are two of them. The other day I saw the first purple flower. At first I thought it was a bird but when I looked closer, I saw tiny clusters of lilac cones! One is in the front yard and the other is right outside the kitchen window. I imagine what it will be like soon when all the flowers are blooming and I open that window!

It’s going to smell wonderful! It’s going to smell much better around here than how the laundry room smells now.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Dairy farms do smell pretty awful. We have one a few miles from here and when you pass it with the windows open pee-ewww! Love the cows though.

Our lilac bushes are blooming now. I love the smell and always cut a few and bring them in. I've heard that in colonial time lilac bushes were planted to ward off evil spirits. Don't know if that's true but it might be. Enjoy your lilacs and their wonderful smell.

CountryDew said...

There is nothing wrong with smelling like cow! LOL.

Great entry.

Jamie "Green" Ferraioli said...

When Kelly first told me she was judging cows, I was like whaaaat? How did you guys get even more country than before?
There's a big tree hanging over where I take the dog to poop. When the flowers bloomed, it smelled like lilacs (but didn't look like it). I liked to pretend I didn't live in a craphole apartment for that brief walk with the nice smell.

Ms. Shypoke said...

In the grand scheme of things.. "enclosed" animals.. (like you would have in a dairy operation) will produce a more concentrated aroma.. think chicken houses and pig operations. We have a cow pasture next to us..and the only time we get any real smell is when they spread chicken or pig "litter" on the field for fertilizer. I actually like the smell of a fish factory though.. to us it's the smell of money.. which "never" smells bad. haha

Sweetflutterbys3 said...

Thanks for your comments on my blog. Apparently, the new system won't let me publish the comments either, only get them on my email. Ugh! I've tried the Google Chrome but it doesn't help. I'm not sure what to do next and my husband can't figure it out either. I guess I'll just keep fiddling with it. Sorry to post this on your commments but I didn't want you to think I was ignoring you!

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Ms. Shypoke, I don't know if you'd like the smell of THIS fish factory. Well, it's been closed down for a long time now. We didn't think anything of it when I was growing up there because it was the norm for us. But every couple of weeks, there would be a smell in the whole town that literally smelled like rot. I think it was the by-products. Who knows what the heck they were doing with them. What do you do that has to do with fishing?

I know, cows don't stink unless they're in an unnatural environment, like a big barn. I've had cattle on my own land. Those dairy farms though... We lived in the same neighborhood as one of the most highly respected dairy farms in Virginia. I even joined my daughter on a school trip to the farm because I wanted to see exactly how it all worked. That place was spic-and-span I tell you. You could actually smell bleach in the barns. Spotless. You could still smell them though when you were driving by. I wouldn't complain. I'd rather live near a dairy farm than a chemical plant or something. But Kelly stinks! lol

Cynda said...

Is that a horse outside the kitchen window??