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The Manure Spreader: The gambler

Tim Moffett Published on 30 September 2015

We all know farming is a gamble. We roll the dice every day. We try to count cards and figure the odds on seed prices to butterfat, or fuel prices to pork bellies, and everything in between.

And we all the love the crapshoot called the weather. The only weather I gamble on is “whether” or not I’m smart enough to pull this farming thing off.



I think betting is in our genes. Who hasn’t bet their little brother a dollar to grab the electric fence? How many times did I hear my granny say, “I’ll bet your grandpa can’t stay awake for the entire sermon.”?

Although we grow up betting each other and gambling against the elements, farmers don’t seem to care for casinos.

That’s just silly betting when you can bet on pig races, the biggest fish and how long it will take your nephew to figure out there is really no such thing as a bird called a “Snipe” that will run into the bag he’s holding.

Sometimes farmers can take this gambling thing too far. For instance, I just read an article from years ago which stated that the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission formally banned “cow-patty bingo” because they believed the game could be rigged.

Say it isn’t so! If you’re not sure what “cow patty bingo” is … (I don’t know why a non-farmer would be reading this article. Maybe you gave this story to your city friend and I have to explain it to him.)


It’s when a field is marked off into numbered squares, bets are taken, and then a fully fed cow is released into the grid to “leave a mark” on the chosen square.

If you still need me to explain this further, it would be like if your family reunion was at the state fair and your nanna had to use the restroom. Meanwhile, the entire family was placing bets on which one of the 22 port-o-lets was clean enough for Nanna to actually enter.

The officials at the Gaming Commission thought the game was rigged. It’s a charity event! The money goes to help the kids! One word: mineral oil. That’s how to rig a cow patty bingo game. Everybody wins, including some innocent bystanders.

Apparently, in Nova Scotia farmers were accused of training the cows to use a particular spot in the field. If I could train my cows to do that, not only would my boots be a lot cleaner, but I wouldn’t need a shovel, manure spreader or my “sister’s kid” to run that shovel.

The original “patty bingo” game originated back to 218 B.C., when Hannibal crossed the Italian Alps with elephants. The soldiers were so cold and bored on their journey that they would bet food rations and furs not on “where” it would land, but because the paths were so narrow, they would bet on “whom” it would land.

The tradition was continued during political debates and later discontinued during a political fundraiser when the politicians decided to bet on themselves after a large breakfast buffet.


It was at this point in history that “Chicken Poop Bingo” was started. Not just the fact that chickens don’t make as big a “mess” as politicians, but when the game is over people will consider bringing a chicken home for dinner.

No matter what, a farmer will always do his best to beat the odds. You can bet on it.  PD

Tim is a dairy farmer and stand-up comedian. Visit him at his website.