Catching the scent of the country
My wife and I went for a walk on Janesville's east side last Wednesday evening, while the smell of manure filled the air. I smelled it again Saturday morning.
A caller in Sunday’s Gazette Sound Off caught a whiff of Wednesday’s odor, too. The caller, who lives near the corner of Lexington Drive and Milwaukee Street, said the household had the windows open to catch an east breeze, “But that isn’t all we caught. The stench was so bad, we closed everything up and turned on the air. How often do we have to put up with that awful smell?”
The caller blamed it on that big new dairy east of Janesville. I took out that reference.
You might recall that last Wednesday’s Sound Off had a comment from someone complaining about the horrible odor coming from that farm, Rock Prairie Dairy, which has thousands of cows on highways 11/14. “I went by there to pick up my daughter-in-law at UW-Whitewater, and the smell was so bad my eyes started tearing. I started coughing and gagging. It’s terrible.”
The caller also pointed out that the farm was supposed to have equipment to reduce odors.
I happened to drive by that big farm, owned by the Tuls family, twice on Sunday, at about midmorning and again in late afternoon. I cracked open the window, but the smell was negligible, about what you’d expect when passing a typical dairy farm. The new dairy's plans called for covered manure pits, and those coverings were obviously doing a reasonable job that day.
Why did I omit the reference to the big dairy in the Sound Off that ran Sunday? Well, because I’m not sure it’s accurate to blame that odor passing through Janesville on the Tuls farm, which is about seven miles from the city limits. My wife and I have lived in our home more than 15 years, and long before the Tuls family built that dairy in the Town of Bradford, you could from time to time smell farm odors around here. I’m sure it occurs whenever a farmer is spreading manure on the outskirts of the city. Sure, it’s offensive, particularly for anyone who never lived or worked on a farm, but the smell soon dissipates.
Realize that Janesville is near the Rock Prairie, which holds some of the best soil in the world. Sometimes, farmers will spread manure to fertilize their land. I can live with that, and I won’t jump to conclusions that the Tuls farm is to blame.