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Finding The Perfect Moment in Pig Poop and Powder

November 19th, 2012

Putting straw atop her compost pile on the farm. Photo courtesy The Denver Post

Alison Gannett is a World Champion Extreme Freeskier, founder of The Save Our Snow Foundation and an award-winning global cooling consultant who has spent her life dedicated to solutions for climate change.

A reporter asked me yesterday how I find time to shovel pig poop and run a farm with my busy schedule. In general, I avoid this job at all costs, but for some weird reason, I bonded with it this week and decided that it is extremely similar to skiing powder.

Upon exit, pig poop does smell terrible, but is mostly just made up of a bunch of grass and grain. These giant and plentiful nuggets are in high demand, as I practically have to race our chickens and turkeys to pick them up before they eat them for dinner!

Picking up the poop serves a couple of purposes: firstly, it keeps the pig pen smelling fresh, but most importantly it provides the most amazing activator for our compost piles. For years we struggled to be self-sufficient in compost, and now with the pig poop, we finally have much higher nutrient compost for the gardens, hoophouse and orchards.

Running three non-profits, my ski career, my keynote speaking presentations, fitting in training, and growing, raising and preserving almost all our own food makes my brain explode on most days. I’m an endless multi-tasker, such as right now—I’m writing a blog for one of my best-ever sponsors, making tomato sauce for the winter, installing a cook stove, petting the cat and listening for the dogs fighting with a bear.

Photo courtesy Patagonia

Powder skiing is one of the only times in life when I am precisely in the present moment. My brain goes completely empty, and my body happily reacts to the obstacles set in front of me. There is this total silence, except for the inexplicable noise of the snow. I get lost in this perfect moment, gone are thoughts of things like mortgages and responsibility.

And I’m sure you are thinking right now, there is no way in hell that that same feeling comes from picking up poop. In many ways you are right, but there is this thread in there, this repetitive and focused movement that is so similar. I get lost in my poop scooping, I get competitive, I am completely in the moment, with all my senses saturated. I am doing mundane work, yet it results in probably one of the single most important things we do to achieve more self-sufficency and sustainability.

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