The Story Behind the Photos

Not to be a downer, but after we turned onto Dog Hollow Road and traveled blacktop through green grass passing Amish buggies and clotheslines with white smocks and light-blue dresses and quilts of stars and suns and a sign tacked to a telephone pole with the words “God, Guns, and Coal. Trump!” and stopping for trail bologna and pie, we drove to a farm in a valley–whitewashed house and red barn with horses, cows, dogs, cats.


That’s when the smell started.

Must be fox urine, I thought, like folks spray on their Hostas to keep the deer away. Then a buggy ride for the kids and the breeze picked up, dark clouds rolling in the distance over the hills and relief from the smell.

Then it was back, this time more intense.  “What’s that smell?” Ceciel asked our driver. I’m feeling self-conscious from her asking because this guy has to live with this smell, whatever the hell it is, but I’m also thinking the same thing she’s thinking.

“That’s probably the rendering,” he paused for a beat or two, “plant.”

When the ride was over, the kids wanted to play on a swing-set they saw but the smell kept getting stronger. We dragged them to the car. I gagged. I’m pretty sure one of us threw up. We raced to get the kids buckled in, the doors closed, and the AC on. In the hermitically sealed space of our car, the smell disappeared.

According to The National Render’s Association, the NRA for short, the process of rendering is good for the environment. They claim, “The US livestock sector slaughters more than 150 million head of cattle, calves, hogs, and sheep and more than 55 billion pounds of poultry annually. In addition to protein for human consumption, the meat production system produces an enormous amount of byproducts that are in turn transformed into nearly 20 billion pounds of highly valuable feed and industrial products in the form of various types of fats and proteins. Rendering is a green industry that protects the environment by recycling carbon and energy and allowing items such as byproducts to be utilized as valuable pet or livestock feed ingredients or biodiesel rather than entering a landfill. Rendering is the most efficient and environmentally sound disposal alternative and has a low carbon footprint.”

Driving away from the smell, I imagine the trailer of a film called, “The Smelling,” in which a group of hapless tourists are consumed by a noxious smell.

Tagline: “They thought it was gone…but it came back”

It’s funny.

But it’s not funny.

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