Horses poo a lot. Sometimes up to 10 times each day. If you multiply across the year, that’s 3,650 poos from one horse!
That means there is always a big muck heap in the field and if you don’t get rid of it, it will just keep getting bigger and bigger.
Darcy’s parents usually arrange for a local farmer to come and collect the manure a couple of times a year. He takes it away and uses it as fertiliser on his fields to help his crops grow.
This year, Darcy asks if she can sell the manure to raise money for charity.
“Where did that idea come from?” her mum asks.
“The other day, my friend Jess told me that her parents had bought 30 bags of manure from the garden centre to start a vegetable patch. She said they paid £7 a bag! I told her that was very silly, as we always have loads of manure that we need to get rid of.”
“I thought we could bag up the muck heap and sell the bags for £1 each to raise money for the local animal rescue. Can we do it mum? Please!”
“That’s a lovely idea, Darcy, but it will be hard work. Do you think you and Dave are up to the challenge?”
Before her mum finishes asking the question, Darcy has already put on her wellies ready to head around to the field.
She starts by knocking on her neighbours’ doors and asking if they have any old compost bags she could use. A few neighbours ask what she’s doing and, when she explains, they ask if they can order some bags of manure.
“I’ve already got three customers!” Darcy grins to herself.
When she gets to the field, she tells Dave her plan and they get to work shovelling manure into the compost bags. They fill 20 bags before realising that the muck heap is on the other side of the field to the gate.
“I’m not strong enough to push a wheelbarrow full of manure all the way over there, Dave, and you can’t push a wheelbarrow. What are we going to do?”
They sit and think for a few minutes, then Dave has a bright idea.
“There’s a wooden pallet pushed up against my shelter,” he says. “If we can find some rope to tie to the pallet, I could pull it across the field to the gate.”
“That’s a great idea, Dave. You’re so clever!” Darcy replies.
Dave is soon hooked up to the pallet and dragging it across the field. By the time he gets back to Darcy, she’s filled another 10 bags. Darcy keeps shovelling and Dave keeps pulling the pallet until there are 100 bags piled up outside the gate.
Whilst the pair have been hard at work, Darcy’s dad has made a sign for them saying ‘Well-rotted manure – £1 per bag. In aid of the local animal shelter’. He ties it to the gate so people walking by know what they’re raising money for. He also ties a money tin to the gate for people to put their donations in.
When Dave and Darcy get over to the gate with the last load of bags, they decide to stop for the day.
“You two have done a great job today, well done!” says Darcy’s dad proudly. “Your mum’s got a special treat for you back at the house, so head on round and I’ll finish moving the bags for you.”
“Thanks dad,” Darcy says sleepily. They slowly walk back to the house and even though they’re really tired, their eyes light up when they see what Darcy’s mum has got for them.
She puts out a big bowl of apples for Dave and a bowl of pasta and garlic bread for Darcy – her favourite!
“I think you two have earned this treat today!” she laughs as they tuck in to their food.
Dave and Darcy both fall asleep very early and don’t wake up until mid-morning. Darcy runs around to the field to see if any bags of manure have been bought and she is amazed to see there are only 12 bags left! She looks in the money tin and finds £140.
“Dave, quick, come and see!” she shouts across the field. Dave comes trotting over and is surprised to see so many bags have gone.
“There’s £140 in the tin, which means people have donated more than £1 per bag!” Darcy grins.
“We’re the dream team!” replies Dave. “And there’s still loads more manure to sell.”
“We’d better get cracking then,” laughs Darcy.
Over the next week, they bag up the rest of the muck heap. By the time they’ve sold all 250 bags, there is £465 in the money tin ready to donate to the animal rescue. The pair are very proud of themselves and the rescue are very grateful for their hard work.
Horse manure is brilliant for your garden and can help flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetables to grow. The manure needs to rot for at least six months before you use it as fertiliser, as fresh manure contains a high amount of a nutrient called nitrogen, which can ‘burn’ plants. The amount of nitrogen reduces as the manure rots, so it’s then safe to use in your garden. This year, I put new raised vegetable beds in my garden and put a deep layer of Dave’s manure in the bottom of one. My mum started growing a butternut squash plant for me, which I then transferred into the bed and it eventually produced two huge squashes – one weighed 4.5kg and the other weighed 5kg! My freezer is now full of roasted squash and butternut squash soup. Yum!
If you liked this story, you’ll love the Dave and Darcy picture book series, which you can purchase here.