TURD BIRDS

I recently received the following note from my friend and cohort, Morrie...of MORRIE'S STORIES fame.  What follows it is my answer to his inquiry.  CSR
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Carolyn:
I dreamed that at one time you had a business preserving and selling cow pies. It is not the sort of thing everyone might do, but
you might. If I'm giving you a bad rap, and it was some one else, I'm sorry----- but I think it was/is a great idea!               

Morrie

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Morrie:

Guilty!!! Sorta!!  But you don't know the half of it.  I had planned to make Cow Pie Ashtrays.  I thought I'd find "just the right" cowpies...very few would work, you understand....create a hollow area and insert a plain glass ashtray. If that worked, I thought I'd make some into small candy dishes.   But, not having access to the cows, nor wanting to search for just the right "inserts" in quanity, I took a detour and developed my famous "TURD BIRDS"!! 

Now TURD BIRDS are a whole different thing.  They aren't functional, but are damn cute. And the best part was the fact I had access to horses, and thus plenty material for the "bodies" of these unique birds.  Again, I must stress that not just "any old piece" of horse shit will do.  Texture, shape, glaze, feel, weight, moisture content, must all be taken into consideration.



One afternoon I was excited when I noticed a horse tied up in the corner of the school yard, across the road from my house in St. Lawrence, South Dakota..  I could see he'd been generous enough to drop quite a supply of "bird bodies", just waiting for pick up.  I hurried over, carrying my bucket, and dropped to my knees, facing the house across the road to the south.  As I crawled around on my hands and knees, I'd spy one I thought had great potential, lay it on my up-turned palm, bring it to eye-level, and study it from every angle.  I'd turn it over and over, around and around.  As very few passed Quality Control, most were returned to the ground. When I found one that was "just right", I'd do a happy dance while still on my knees.

I was thus engrossed in my mission, when I suddenly got that "oh-oh........ somebody's watching me" feeling.  I looked up....directly at the house across the road. There, lined up, shoulder to shoulder across the full width of the picture window, like a bunch of blackbirds on a highline wire, were the home owners and their house full of company.  Even at that distance, I could see the expression on each face!  I don't think there are words to describe what I saw. "Deer in the headlights" comes as close as anything.  At that moment, the only phrase running through my mind was, "No place to run....no place to hide."  I did what anyone would do, who was hoping to avoid the men in white jackets, carrying a net and a funny-looking, long-sleeved jacket ----  I smiled, and gave them my biggest wave!!!!  With that, the entire group totally lost it...I could see some of them doubled over in laughter.  I returned to the job at hand.

Once the perfect shape was found, the bird building could begin.  Each body was sprayed with clear acrylic.  Tiny eyes were glued on, as was a tiny beak, and a black plastic top hat.  Tail feathers were added.  The completed bird was then glued to a base of wood.  This was usually a small tree "slice".  If memory serves me, I used a label maker to print out and adhere to the base the words, "
Genuine Turd Bird".  That's it!  Dumb, yes....but folks went crazy over them.

I recall the incident where a fellow from Florida was visiting a friend of mine who lived in another town.  He spotted one of these "creations" in her home and asked, "What the hell is that?!"  She explained what it was and what it was made out of.  He said, "I want that!"....then, before she could say anything, he said, "NO!  You get a hold of that crazy friend of yours....I want NINE of those things!"  Well, she did....I made them for him.  I never quite understood how he arrived at "9", but that's what he wanted, and that's what he got.  Whether they all made it to Florida, or were "dropped off" between South Dakota and Florida, I'll never know.

Another time I answered a knock on the door to find a little boy standing there, clutching some money in his hot little hand.  Without a "hello", he blurted out..."My Mom wants a BIRD TURD!"  Well, that struck me so funny, I nearly lost it right then and there.  I was finally able to get out the words, "I think you mean she wants a TURD BIRD, right?"  "Yeah, THAT'S what she wants...a Turd Bird."  He picked out the feather-color he wanted, shoved the money in my direction, and dashed out the door. 

I noticed one lady, attending one of my craft shows, bend over the table a little bit, then quickly stand back up.  I watched some more and noticed she'd reach for a Turd Bird, then would draw her hand back.  Finally she picked one up, began to bring it toward her nose...stop, set it down.  She did that several times, each time getting a tad closer to her nose with it.  I couldn't stand it any longer.  I walked over to her and said, "No, they don't smell."  She couldn't believe it.  She finally got brave enough to take a sniff.  I was right.  It didn't.

Another lady was holding one, looking it over from every angle, sort of shaking her head.  She looked up to see me standing there and asked, "What exactly did you make these with?....They look so REAL.....I mean they actually LOOK like REAL horse manure. How did you DO THAT?"  I said, "I didn't.....the horse did!"  She let out a gasp and promptly dropped the poor little guy. I'm not positive of this, but I "think" she came back and bought one.

My Mother walked in to my kitchen one afternoon.  There was a bucket of horse manure sitting by the counter, and I had some of the best specimans laying on my kitchen table - ready to assemble.  Now, I've always preferred doing crafts or gardening, or now...webpages...ANYTHING besides cooking.  In fact, I tell people that I've had my kitchen "surgically removed".  BUT, that particular afternoon I was planning quite a good supper.  I asked Mom if she and Dad would like to come for supper that nite.  She never hesitated.  "NO!" Surveying the site before her, and shaking her head, she said, "Girl! You weren't raised this way!"  Well, geeeeez, I wasn't planning to feed my parents horse doo-doo, for cryin' out loud!!  They did NOT come to supper.

I put the Turd Birds to rest after I figured I had pretty well saturated the market.  I was sad to see them go. 

2002 Carolyn S. Rosemore
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