Somehow, along the road to becoming a weathered and leathery 34-year-old barn manager, I neglected to produce human offspring. I find myself fulfilled in keeping my legion of small beige dogs, horses, husband and draft mule alive. Adding a human infant to the mix seems fairly ridiculous, having spent the past couple decades working hard to prevent one.
On the rare occasion that I feel the deeply repressed urge to nurture same-species young, I simply borrow/rent them from my sister.
During these visits, if said children are expected to sleep, terms are negotiated, and inevitably I’ll be asked to read them a story. The majority of the stories I’ve encountered are humorless and contain an astonishing lack of horse content.
Sometimes the pictures are fun to look at. Occasionally there is a veiled lesson to be learned. Generally these stories contain nothing of use for the children and are a slow death for the sad person forced to read them. But once in a very great while, I’ll scavenge from the toy pile a treat of a book that elicits snort-laughter from both children and adult alike. The reader is left with the impression that the author may also have been forced recite hours of literary garbage at bedtime and decided to do one better. I enjoy these rare scripts immensely. Naturally I felt compelled to do my part and write such a story myself.
I assumed the transition from salty horse blogger to children’s literary genius would be a light hack in the sun. My field research consisted of what I know: horse care. I contemplated content, and considered topics that might resonate with my young niece and nephew. I was delighted to discover that, at ages 4 and 6, they, like their aunt, had extremely poor taste and were highly partial to bathroom humor. I now had discovered common ground and subject matter.
Thus, “A Turd In Your Feed Tub” was born.
I constructed the text, illustrated key scenes and sent the manuscript off to some agents who specialize in children’s literature.
I sat back and waited for the offers to pour in. After all, what agent wouldn’t want to publish a child’s picture book about horse excrement? I was on the precipice of literary greatness; I could feel it in my bones.
Then the rejection letters began arrived. The agencies considered my content inappropriate for their prospective audience.
“But,” I reasoned, “children love poop. They love ponies. At its core, it’s a story about a child discovering the art of positive perspective from an unlikely teacher using unconventional methods…”
Blah, blah, blah—despite what I considered to be a fairly convincing pitch, they remained unmoved. I suppose the children’s literary world isn’t ready for a turd in their feed tub, but I know who is: the horse community.
Distasteful humor is a way of life, and manure management is simply a part of our daily routine. We spend countless hours contemplating the signals our horses attempt to communicate to us, spend years of our lives deciphering our animals’ intentions, needs and wants.
It became clear that I didn’t really need an agent to appreciate my manure-gilded masterpiece; my prospective audience was here all along! So cheers to you, my fellow horse-human compatriots. For your reading pleasure, I present my failed children’s literary debut, dedicated to my sister’s Fjord pony Dorree:
“A Turd in Your Feed Tub”
There’s a turd in your feed tub, I can’t fathom why.
In a stall full of bedding, you don’t even try
To poo in your stall like a good horse would do,
Instead you leave me … a tub filled with poo.
“What does it mean?” I sob in despair.
A sign of ill-will? Aren’t you treated with care?
You have hay, feed and straw
Yet you prance and you paw
And you poo in that bucket with no shame at all!
Your aim is precise, your trajectory true,
No accident here, you took aim … and you pooed.
So this morning I came, with your feed tub in hand,
Hit my head on a hay rack and now understand!
That turd in your bucket was never a slight,
But a generous treat, I see with new sight!
You think it’s my favorite—I guess I would too—
If someone came daily and took all my poo.
How would you have known,
Where the poo is all thrown?
And that I don’t keep it
To have for my own.
Such a wonderous beast!
Here’s your breakfast-time feast!
In a freshly scrubbed bucket,
I don’t mind in the least.
Now I have answers, it’s all clear as day.
Your turds just mean “THANKS!” in your food and your hay.
You’re just leaving gifts in the water outside,
In the freshly swept aisle! In wash stalls! On rides!
When you poo on the trailer, you’re showing you care.
When I’m picking your hooves, and you poo in my hair.
When I’m brushing your tail, you’ll poo without fail,
And when I can’t find you, you leave a poo trail.
So much time I have wasted just wondering why,
Whenever I’m with you, the poo tends to fly.
But now that I know, in my heart you will grow
With every turd in the muck tub I throw.
It once felt quite hopeless, then to me occurred
Gifts come in all sizes, and yours is a turd.
Alice Peirce was raised as a self-described “feral horse farm child” in Howard County, Maryland. Currently, she manages a farm in Butler, Maryland, and hunts with the Green Spring Valley Hounds. She’s also responsible for foaling and raising the Twitter sensation foal who can’t roll, “Cyrus The Virus.” #rollcyrusroll!