A gift? For me?!

August 7, 2009 | By | Comments (9)

Sara Schneider, our wine editor, tracked me down the other day to give me a gift. She found me chatting with Elizabeth Jardina, researcher-extraordinaire, and Alan Phinney, managing editor (also extraordinaire, of course) and handed over a nice, sleek cardboard box. You can imagine how special I felt being singled out by the wine editor, of all people, and being handed a gift. Who me? Gosh, thanks.


Was it special wine from an amazing organic vineyard? It didn’t feel heavy enough to be a bottle. Magical seeds she’d procured?

I opened the box and instantly choked on a cloud of particulate matter. Ok, a slight exaggeration, but I essentially opened up a box of finely decomposed cow manure and a big ‘ol cow horn. Um, thank you?


Sara had been given “horn manure” from  Paul Dolan, a partner at Mendocino Wine Company. The tradition of horn manure (cow poo fermented underground in a cow horn) comes from biodynamic farming.

This is what I understand about biodynamics:

  • It comes from a series of lectures given by Rudolf Steiner back in the ’30s (Steiner also gave us  Waldorf education).
  • It involves paying very close attention to your land.
  • There are a lot of compost preparations, such as stuffing a cow horn with cow poo and burying it under your ground for a winter.

This is what I’ve never understood about biodynamics:

  • Stuffing a cow horn with cow poo and burying it under your ground for a winter

Listen, I am not meaning to poo-poo biodynamics (heehee). It is not a method of farming with which I am familiar. And yes, from the outside it seems very woo-woo. But I’m open to learning. I swear. I’m even going to make compost tea out of the horn manure and irrigate my crops with it.

But back to my story. The gift. Of horn manure.

So, Paul Dolan gave Sara his old horn manure. And then Sara gave it to me. And then I went home and thought long and hard about the decisions I’ve made in life to have reached this moment. The moment of being given the gift of cow poo in a box.


See what else our wine editor is up to here.

And learn more about the One Block Diet here.


  1. Revolution Hydroponics

    Hydroponics enables gardening enthusiasts to garden all year round using grow lights regardless of climate. Hydroponics is an indoor gardening method that requires no soil to grow plants.The water that is used to grow plants stays in the system and can be reused – thus, lower water costs. Unlike conventional gardening, it is possible to control the nutrition levels in their entirety with hydroponics. With hydroponics pests and diseases are also easier to get rid of than in soil due to the mobility of the containers. Most importantly, hydroponics enables indoor gardeners to grow plants faster and with a higher yield than conventional gardening.

    February 16, 2011 at 4:59 am
  2. Patricia

    About ten years ago, having retired from ag. journalism, I sent all my Biodynamic references to a charitable organization. And here it is again.
    As I understand this is still firmly entrenched in Germany with a great number of consumers following.
    We all do strange things. I am trying the “moon phase” planting, and you are trying to live on food raised within 1 block…, but true, a gift of cow horn and manure is a bit way out.

    August 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm
  3. Jan Mettler

    Paul Dolan’s website explains the use of the cow poo and offers a free copy of The Green Winegrowing Handbook:

    Johanna we are interested in your experiment and results!

    August 10, 2009 at 9:41 pm
  4. Allyson

    I love this! One day I want to be the person who thinks their poop is so amazing that it should be gifted 🙂

    August 9, 2009 at 2:28 pm
  5. SMB

    Ah, it’s surprising where we find ourselves sometimes, isn’t it?

    Thanks so much for the laugh. 🙂

    August 7, 2009 at 10:28 pm
  6. Miranda

    i second, third and fourth all the above emotions.

    August 7, 2009 at 10:08 pm
  7. Barb

    You crack me up!

    August 7, 2009 at 10:01 pm
  8. Sheila


    August 7, 2009 at 8:59 pm
  9. Jeff P

    You’re funny and hilarious. I would assume your business card says “garderner + bloggerextraordinaire x funny person”.

    August 7, 2009 at 8:49 pm

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