From the Editor: September-October 2016
A cow chip off the old block
By Marg Land
When it comes to manure, I’ve had some pretty strange articles grace my computer’s inbox. There was the eyebrow-raising story about a new clothing line made from manure fibers, the stomach churning feature on ingesting manure as a cancer treatment, and the farmyard heist to end all farmyard heists featuring the always popular “let’s hide the stolen equipment in the huge manure pile” philosophy.
Could the world get any stranger?
Indeed it could. After all, there’s always cow chip chucking, well on its way to becoming the next hot demonstration sport to be featured during the 2020 Olympic Games.
Cow chip chucking competitions have been around in the U.S. since the 1970s when the Cimmarron Territory Celebration held its inaugural event in Beaver, OK, where – according to Modern Farmer – cows outnumber people 16 to one. Today, it’s known by its very important sounding title – the World Championships of cow chip tossing – and involves more than 2,000 people from across the region and the country gathering to celebrate their heritage and competing to be crowned the cow chip chucking champion.
Oklahoma is not alone in its cow chip chucking prowess. Wisconsin also hosts a crappy competition – the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw & Festival, held every Labor Day weekend in Sauk Prairie.
What exactly does cow chip chucking entail?
Each thrower is provided with two cow chips (only the one travelling the farthest is counted), specially selected and prepared more than a month in advance so they are fully dried and have maximum flight potential. Each chip is chucked from a set starting point and must fall within pre-arranged boundaries. The thrower who chucks the farthest is the winner.
The current record is 248 feet, held by a Sauk City man. A Beaver, Oklahoma, man holds the record at the Cimmarron Terriroty Celebration chucking event with a throw of 188 feet, six inches.
Why chuck cow chips?
According to the history of the Wisconsin event, the first pioneers of the Plains were challenged by a lack of water and timber for fuel and shelter. So they turned to cow chips to provide fuel to cook their food and heat their homes.
“When dry, the chips were odorless, gave a clean, bright flame and burned with intense heat, without soot,” states the history page of the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw & Festival’s website. “Chips were gathered and stored for the winter as autumn approached. The cow chip was a life-sustaining utility and was often used in trade for food or anything the pioneers needed.”
It’s definitely too late for me to strut my stuff during the 2016 competition but there’s always next year. And, who knows. Maybe it will be a demonstration sport in Tokyo.