Sludge Swilling Dog

When I say “disgusting,” what do you think of? Can you think of a few things that smell really raunchy? Well, I have a few that float into my mind too, and let me tell you about one of them.

When I cut my grass, I have a mower that collects the clippings in a bag. I try to incorporate some of it into my garden as mulch, but I have a huge yard, and there is always more grass than I can use. I pile the extra clippings into large 33 gallon black plastic barrels to which I have added rope handles. I usually haul the barrels over to the neighborhood composting site immediately after I’m finished mowing, but sometimes they sit in my yard for a few days.

Sometimes the barrels sit in the sun for a good portion of the time. When this happens, the clippings shrink in size so you end up with just a small mass of green/black rotting grass in the bottom of the barrel. A thick black liquid starts to accumulate in the bottom, and it is one of the strongest smelling substances I know! I don’t know what the correct term is for this foul stuff, but I call it “sludge.” I sometimes catch a whiff when I walk nearby, and it smells as strong as a pile of cow manure sitting in the summer sun: It takes your breath away!

Sometimes it rains, and water gets added into the mix. The rain water runs through the clippings, helping the black liquid get to the bottom faster. Sometimes this soupy mess sits in the sun for a day or two, and it becomes even more “ripe!”

When this happens, I know it’s time to dump the barrels, mostly because I need them for mowing again. I don’t like to carry the extra liquid because it’s heavy, so I tip the barrels on their side and allow the sludge to drain into my garden. I can then easily carry what’s remaining to the neighborhood compost container, and add it to the sludgy mess that’s already been sitting there in the sun for a week! And just like that, I’m ready to start the process again, although I do remind myself to dump the clippings a little sooner next time!

Now for the really disgusting part! My dog Maxie is absolutely crazy about this sludge. She will lap it up out of the garden before it can soak in. She will even crawl inside barrels lying on their side, and drink the sludge before it can make its way to the earth. Yesterday, I placed the barrels upside down when I returned from the neighborhood compost bin, in an attempt to thwart her obsessive desire to clean all remaining sludge from their insides. I came out to discover that Maxie had dug a hole beside one barrel, and was lying on her side, her long tongue inside, savoring whatever sludge was still dripping down the sides.

I set the barrel upright and discovered a clump of sludge saturated grass had fallen out, and remained on the dirt. Maxie rushed towards the treasure, and quickly snatched some up, then proceeded to ruminate it around in her mouth like a cow chewing her cud. She stood there enjoying the feast until she had sucked out every last ounce of sludge. Then she swallowed the grass and picked up some more to repeat the process!

I used to make an effort to keep Maxie away from the sludge because I was sure it would make her sick, but I soon stopped because she always found a way to enjoy it anyway. One would think that the multitude of bacteria present in the decaying grass would make her violently ill, but Maxie somehow seems immune to it. Now I say “bon appétit” and simply refer to her as my “sludge swilling dog!”