- Some cow manure didn't live up to my expections...and, for cow manure, my expectation were not high. View large

Dear Sir,

There will be the temptation to class this letter as just another bullshit complaint from some loopy consumer. You're right, of course, but bear with me anyway.

Last weekend I bought two 5 litre packs of your Cow Manure.

On the way home I mused over the claim that it would lift the activity of macro-organisms in the soil. Now micro-organisms tend to be self-limiting by virtue of their size and. to my mind, therefore fairly manageable but macro organisms? That's a fairly open ended group of critters. Worms would be good. But rabbits? Wombats? Aarvarks? Brontosauri? What was I unleashing among my vegetables?

In such idle thoughts I brought the product home.

Later that day I added it to the garden and I couldn't help noticing that high level of wood chip in the product. Your flock runs to a tough breed of cow! They need to be told to chew their food. Then again, if they have been eating trees they are a class of macro-organisms in themselves.

It was at about that point that the '5 Litres' issue raised its head. Was it really five litres? It didn't look like it. A quick to & fro with some water and some balances found that the pack would hold four litres if filled to capacity. Which it wasn't.

But none of this is why I am writing, of course. I am, naturally, writing about the most inappropriate picture of three cows on the front of the pack.

Shouldn't they be facing the other way?


J. Cosmo Newbery.

REPLY: A defensive sort of reply:

Thankyou for taking the time to write to us and bring to our attention a number of issues with our Cow Manure 5L product.

We have opened a number of bags to check for bark chips etc, checked the 5L capacity and reviewed our wording on package regarding micro and macro organisms.

We certainly found what appeared to be small bark chips in a number of bags. We have contacted our supplier and requested tighter control of the processes to reduce the problem. However the collection of the raw materials is very basic. It is scooped up off the ground and screened.

All bags we checked held the 5 Litres of product to our satisfaction.

Regarding the macro organisms, can I clarify we are referring to earthworms and beneficial insects in this case.

Thankyou again for taking the time to contact us. We are vigilant with our quality control but appreciate feedback from consumers enabling focus and improve product.

In appreciation of your feedback, I would like to offer you a complimentary bottle of Maxicrop Seaweed Plant Food Concentrate. If OK I will organise to have this delivered to your door.

I pull out an impressive list of shitty credentials:

I certainly do appreciate the time you spent researching my comments on the Cow Manure. (Just a side issue - my SPAM filter filtered out your letter. I would have thought 'cow manure' was mild in the overall lexicon of SPAM.)

I must also profess to prior experience - I spent a slab of one of my Uni holidays packing cow manure into bags (for Hortico, sorry) - so I am somewhat versed in things faecal, bovinely speaking at least.

Just a point on the 'five litres - I tared the bag on a balance (in a bucket) and then filled it with as much water as I could. Five litres was never going to happen in the bag I had.

I am relieved that the macro-organisms stopped at the blackbird food stage, I would have been loathe to venture out to weed the garden if I had thought there were larger beasties lurking around the silver beet.

Thank you for the offer of seaweed extract, it is certainly not why I wrote but somewhat prescient as tomorrow I head off for two weeks at sea. Testing sewage, believe it or not! Faecally speaking, I guess I am polylingual.

Should you deliver it to my door you will probably startle Mrs Newbery but it will be appreciated, none the less.

And, true to their word, a lady bearing a bottle of seaweed plant food turned up on my front door while I was away.

“Are you Mrs Newbery...?” (pause) “My husband's been writing to you, hasn't he?”