I’m sure I’ve never told the magazine’s readers this, but I love manure. I’m not afraid to admit it; I’m not ashamed. I’ve shoveled a lot of it, smelled quite a bit of it, cleaned a bit off myself, talked a lot about it and even written educational articles about it.
But my deep love of the topic and the magazine dedicated to it doesn’t seem to be shared by the public at large, including the many non-agricultural people I interact with as part of my job. Many don’t understand the intricacies and technological know-how that goes into managing large volumes of manure.
I have spent sweat-dripping minutes patiently describing manure management to straight-faced border guards with large guns as they stare at me with their mouths agape. I’ve shown them business cards, event itineraries, magazine samples, hotel bookings, meeting agendas. All they can choke out is: “You manage manure? And they have an expo about it? Let me get my supervisor.” And I start over again.
I have learned to scrub my shoes and boots in hotel bathtubs using mini-shampoo samples, dreading the possible shoe dip at the airport. This can be a humiliating experience involving other passengers pointing and gasping in horror, believing it to be some sort of counter-terrorism measure.
I’ve had the trunk of my car searched at a border crossing, the guard convinced I had secreted away some sample of manure. I explained over and over again that it was a rental and I had only just picked it up. I hadn’t even made it to the farm I was visiting. But he was convinced there was manure to be found. He left empty-handed.
On a flight to Los Angeles to visit the World Ag Expo, I happened to meet a group of Ohio dairymen on their way to sightsee and attend the same event. After chatting with one of them while stretching my legs (I hate long flights), I discovered they were sitting just a row behind me. He asked why I was going to the World Ag Expo and I explained I was the editor of Manure Manager. His eyes lit up: “I get that magazine,” he said. He shouted to his friends halfway down the airplane: “She’s the editor of Manure Manager!” as he pointed at me. Although the group of dairymen was excited and pleased to meet me, the rest of the passengers seemed a bit concerned. A flight steward stopped by the row to see what the fuss was. “She’s the editor of Manure Manager,” explained one of the dairy farmers, handing him my business card. The steward put his right hand on his hip as he balanced a tray filled with empty mini-liquor bottles with his left and stared at me. “Manure?” he questioned, glancing at the card on his tray. “Would that be organic?”
The Ohio dairy guys, my advertising manager and I laughed until we cried. No one else found the question funny.
I’m also used to being the butt of many people’s jokes, especially at work. My co-workers love to rib me about my “center spreads” and “crappy” covers. But I don’t care. They can laugh all they want.
I’m of the opinion any publicity is good publicity – especially if it’s funny. I’ve shipped samples of the magazine to the U.K. to be used on a specialty magazine game show and Manure Manager was recently highlighted in a CBS Sunday News clip on weird magazines.
I don’t think it’s weird. And I know our subscribers don’t think so either. Many describe how their copies go missing after they’ve set them down somewhere in the barn office or washroom. It’s a competition at their operations to see who can obtain and read the magazine first.
Don’t worry; we’ll send you more. We enjoy “spreading” the word about manure. Where else can you learn about spraying, spreading, injecting, digesting, separating, composting, turning, pumping, agitating, filtering, shoveling and dumping that brown gold.