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October 7, 2010


Big Heap. The corner of this field is home to ...

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What is that terrible odor?

If you have travelled in the Greater Bippus Area (GBA)  you could not have missed the terrible stench in the air.  And it is EVERYWHERE.  The soybean harvest is continuing, maybe about half way done.  Many of the local bean growers have arranged with a large, local poultry producer to have semi-truck loads of chicken manure delivered right to their bean field.  So as soon as the beans are harvested, they are spreading chicken manure on their field, for the high nitrogen content, as in *fertilizer*.

So what’s all the fuss?

Let’s say that you are in your car, heading to Bippus from Fort Wayne, enjoying a scenic drive along Indiana State Road 114.  The sun is shining, the combines are combining, trucks of all sizes and shapes are parked along the roads, adjacent to the big dust clouds that the combines put up.  A quilt-like patchwork of cut and uncut fields unfolds as you cruise westward, maybe listening to Patsy Kline on the radio.  It is somewhat chillly, so you have all the windows rolled up.

Then it hits you

Suddenly, your nose starts sending warning signals.  Is the carpet on fire?  Dig the dog have an accident?  Where is that terrible scent COMING FROM?  Then you see, off on the edge of one of those already harvested bean fields, a great big black pile, with a large front loader scooping on it, and transferring the black stuff to funny-looking 3 wheeled spreader vehicle.  You haven’t quite figured this out yet, but it stinks SO BAD inside your vehicle that you decide to *Let the smell out*, and crack your window, just slightly.


Preparing the *fertilizer*



You immediately recognize that you have made a huge mistake.  Wave upon wave of powerful ammonia-based poison gas enters your vehicle.  You are done.  Surely you are going to die, right out here in rural paradise, where the deer and raccoonelope play.

Well, not really but it seems like it.  It IS ammonia that you smell.  And it does take your breath away. And it won’t exit your vehicle, or leave your skin,  You, just like the inhabitants of the good ole outback, are just going to have to wait for cold weather and rain.  Rest assured, however, that there will be plenty of nitrogen (the “N” part of NH3, which is the chemical formula of ammonia), there will be plenty of nitrogen on those fields when planting time comes around.

And speaking of planting time, after the beans (soybeans) have been harvested, many of those same fields will be planted with wheat.  Winter wheat.  They call it winter wheat, because it is planted (in the GBA)  in October, and ideally gets about 1 to 3 inches tall before the snow flies, and then gets a great jump start on growing in the spring, to be ready (remember amber waves of grain?) ready for harvest in July.  So those lovely, short green fields you see over the winter- those are winter wheat.

And us folk out in the country are looking forward to seeing the winter wheat get planted.  Just to get rid of that smell.

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