The mystery of the missing manure

I know it's a bit sad, but there's nothing more exciting to me than feeling the temperature of my compost pile when it's really cooking... steam rises and it really does get hot as all those microbes do their work. And what really warms things up is a good dose of manure mixed in with all the kitchen waste, bunny and chicken poo, cardboard, grass clippings and other vegetable waste from the allotment.

Unfortunately I've not been able to get my hands on any manure for ages. Used to get some lovely stuff for free from a local stables, filling compost bags and transporting it back and forth in my previous car, furiously wiping the windows because of the steam rising from each bag. It was a real slog, taking up a whole afternoon. The arrival of a new smaller Fiat a couple of years ago put a stop to that. In the very earliest of my allotment days I did get a delivery of manure from the groundsman, and did ask about two years ago if he'd do another delivery. He said yes, but it's been a long time coming!

So you can maybe understand my excitement when I got a call from the groundsman yesterday about noon. 'I've just dumped a pile of muck outside your plot' he said. 'That's fantastic! How much do I owe you for that?' '£20, any time will do.'

Told Linda the exciting news. 'I'd better get up there quickly,' said I, 'it'll be blocking the access road and you know what they're like up there... anything that looks unattached disappears pretty quickly'. Never a truer word spoken!

Thirty minutes later there I was happily hurrying towards the allotments. The sun was shining, birds singing and some two hundred yards away from my plot I was hoping the pile of manure was soooooooo huge I might be able to see it. Nope, nothing visible, but there were a few bends in the way, be reasonable!

Coming the other way were Will and Doreen, the couple who tend the allotment plot just opposite and to one side of mine, on their way home wheeling a wheel barrow. We met at the gates and exchanged pleasantries. Their faces took on a strange hue when I excitedly informed them I'd got an early Christmas present waiting for me... a pile of manure. 'There must be some mistake,' Will stuttered 'we asked the groundsman about three weeks ago if he could deliver us some manure.' He then explained the groundsman had said any delivery would arrive on a Tuesday or Wednesday (this was Thursday!) and for some reason the groundsman got mixed up with plots and dumped it outside my plot rather than theirs. Realising my pile of gold might have been filched from under my very nose I tried to be positive and said maybe the groundsman had dumped another pile for me against my second, back plot.

Of course there was no second pile, just a big brown mark on the access road grass where my manure had been as shown above, and several piles of lovely manure on Will's plot where he'd wheelbarrowed the stuff from outside my plot onto his!

A quick call to the groundsman established the manure was meant for me. Met Will on my way back to the car (there was no point hanging around and I was back off to do some decorating as I originally planned). He'd also called the groundsman and now realised what he'd done. Doreen was mortified and had sent him back to apologised. I explained I'd been waiting two years for that delivery... although Will had been promised a delivery only three weeks ago, on the timescales the groundsman works to he only had another 24 months to wait.

All ended on a happy note... the groundsman said he had a spare trailer for this morning and would deliver another pile of manure for me. I'll be on the plot all expectant later this morning. Goodness knows what I'm going to do if nothing arrives and I'm into another long wait. Just couldn't stand the view of all that lovely stuff meant for me just sitting on Will's plot!

Update: As can be seen in the images below, all ended on a very happy if somewhat smelly and steamy note. Got a call early morning to say another delivery made. Flew up to find a huge pile of pretty fresh cow manure.

Initially thought I'd stick it all in one of my compost bins and wasted time emptying and spreading the current contents. Pretty soon realised I had far too much for that and ended up temporarily moving much of it to any spare space I could find in front of the shed since I was under severe time constraints. There's also a load in the compost bin and some in the wheelbarrow. Must be about two year's supply!

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