Manure — one of life’s few absolute certainties. Every living creature produces it. It’s a mainstay of 12-year-old boys’ crude poo jokes; the star of ubiquitous, vulgar declarations (i.e. “Oh, bull … manure!”)
When applied to farm fields or gardens, this natural fertilizer is a proficient ally in coaxing life from soil and enhancing production. Seeds sprout and mature into all manner of wondrous life-sustaining grains, grasses, flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Livestock manure amassed in vast quantities must be regularly removed to prevent disease, parasites, flies, repulsive odors, and lessen the risk of spontaneous combustion fires.
Whether shoveled, raked, swept or bulldozed into piles, tackling manure is labor-intense. Some people pinch their noses shut at the mere thought of the disagreeable chore while others consider it a truly therapeutic activity.
Regardless of one’s philosophy on the matter, when piles of the odorous substance reach depths of Biblical proportions, they must go. Never fear, Your Entremanure is near to come to the rescue.
INSPIRATION AND PERSPIRATION
In 1996, Mike Parsons of Berthoud, Colo., formulated a business plan. Eventually dubbed Livestock Enterprises, LLC by his rancher-granddad King Parsons (who died in 1998 at age 92), the fledgling company included a variety of ag chores for hire, such as corral repairs. But grandson Mike felt directed to a singularly focused purpose.
He’d often seen massive piles of dung accumulating behind Colorado horse facilities, which brought to mind his younger days cleaning Granddad Parsons’ corrals.
For four years, Parsons pondered how to properly combine these two eras into a profitable endeavor. Finally, he posted (hot pink) fliers all around Longmont, Colo., and … they worked.
Mike Parsons was born in 1964 in New Mexico. His father’s job had providentially taken him and his wife there for a couple years, and it was in Albuquerque that they adopted infant Mike. The family then returned to Colorado in 1964 or ‘65.
Young Parsons grew up in town but spent weekends and summers at grandpa Parsons’ Wineglass Ranch on Boulder’s north side — every cowpony-loving child’s dream come true. He happily recalled working on the big spread, which had previously raised mostly horses in the 1930s but switched to cattle in the ‘40s.
“A kid sure couldn’t do now what I could do back then,” he recalled with a chuckle. “I’d hop on my bike on Saturday mornings at 5 a.m. and pedal up Broadway all the way through town to get there.”
His parents then picked him up each Sunday afternoon after another intense but delightful time spent shoveling out pens and completing other sundry ranch work. A true joy.
When Parsons ultimately fine-tuned Livestock Enterprises into strictly a manure removal business, he gave it a clever dba: Your Entremanure, a successful play on words by the budding entrepreneur.
In 1996, he’d begun with just a 1-ton pickup and a gooseneck dump trailer before upgrading the equipment in 2002 to his “dream truck,” a 2002 Kenworth W-900. (He also implements a pup trailer for larger jobs.) He still loves his ginormous dump truck, so much so that it sports a #44 on its cab’s nose, symbolizing his childhood hero and inspiration, Denver Broncos’ running back Floyd Little.
Parsons said he’s been recently reflecting about how his life changed due to his business: from a bland single life, one-man show to an incredibly fulfilling family affair.
“I’ve made so many friends because of it. And, I met my wife through one of my customers,” he said.
That client was Sombrero Ranches in Estes Park, Colo., owned by the Bishop family, now among the Parsons’ good friends. Freda Bishop had employed a nanny for her two children; the competent child-minder doubled as a ranch hand when needed.
Elizabeth “Eli” McCollaum was raised on a working cattle ranch in the Guadalupe Mountains near Carlsbad, N.M. Considered small by regional standards, the 38-section (that’s 24,320 acres) ranch was situated in beautiful but rugged country. Eli grew up in the saddle, doctoring, branding and pushing cattle from one area of the property to another.
Parsons and McCollaum met at Sombrero several times as she worked with ranch horses. Bishop successfully played matchmaker. Parsons and McCollaum married in 2004, and now have three daughters, all of whom are avid riders.
Eli initially partnered with Mike in Your Entremanure until their second child was born; then Parsons decided he needed to work solo.
“I didn’t want my kids growing up in the back of a pickup truck,” he said.
Katie, age 14, is involved in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, competing in Western Horsemanship and Reining, with the Berthoud Equestrian Team. Katie’s team coaches are Mark Guynn and Nancy Nemmers. Through IEA, children learn to adeptly ride all types of horses.
Attending meets outside their own area, each youngster draws a saddled (trainer’s) horse’s name out of a hat shortly before a class, adjusts its stirrups, and rides into the arena for the first time ever on that particular equine.
“Katie really loves it and has made lots of friends,” Parsons said, adding that IEA is a lettered sport at Berthoud High School.
Katie’s sisters Jodi, age 11, and 10-year-old Laurelle, are almost old enough to join IEA, which accepts members from sixth through 12th grades for its Western riding section.
The three Parsons girls definitely have enough horses on which to practice. The family owns eight: Quarter Horses, Paints and an Appaloosa. One of the QHs and the Appy, both registered, were traded to Mike in exchange for manure hauling.
“They are two of the best horses I’ve ever owned.” he said.
Most people, however, reimburse Your Entremanure with actual currency rather than via horse trading. However, some do tip… with amusing stories.
Parsons mentioned that several female customers have told him that they order all necessary horse-related products/services while their non-horsey hubbies merely pay the bills; and grump about it.
That’s when Mom points out that the neighbor kid who doesn’t own a horse just got into some kind of big trouble, while her and hubby’s darling offspring with horses maintains a spotlessly clean record.
Dad then immediately pulls out his checkbook and eagerly asks, “What else do we need to buy?”
AT THE RANCH
Among Parsons’ regular accounts is “The Ranch” at Budweiser Events Center at The Ranch Complex in Loveland. Home of the Larimer County Fair, “The Ranch” hosts additional activities throughout the year, many of them equestrian, which require post-event cleanup.
Through that account, said Parsons, his local membership of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association was invited to compete annually (2019 was the nineth year) in a demo at the fair. The entire Parsons family is very active in, and loves, the sport.
They’re also members of The Colorado Outlaws, a separate mounted shooting club founded by a friend. Parsons enjoys working at clinics conducted for new members of both groups.
For each of the past two years, the Outlaws fundraised and donated in excess of $3,500 for kids competing in the Larimer County Fair’s Junior Livestock Sale.
Rather than designating monies for just the winners as do some benefactors, the Outlaws’ dollars go to children who likely work every bit as hard but don’t top the final standings, Parsons said.
Meanwhile, back at the other ranches ….
Your Entremanure accepts regular and sporadic clients along the Colorado Front Range from just north of Fort Collins and down to Golden. About 99 percent of the animal waste collected is equine, with a small remainder from alpacas, llamas and cattle.
Parsons said he can haul up to 35 yards per box, depending on weight; uses his own loader; and accepts individual clients with just one or two horses up to large boarding/training barns with upwards of several hundred equines on-premises. He works by the customer’s schedule, be it weekly, monthly or per call.
Any negatives? One big one is baling twine. Each time Parsons spots a strand wickedly lacing a pile, he must climb out of the truck to remove it by hand. Lengthy, large-bale nylon or other twines can annoyingly wind down through several feet-deep compacted — and sometimes winter-frozen — feces.
Parsons occasionally declines a job if twine is extremely prolific. But he said his regulars are exceptionally good at keeping stray strings at bay.
Generally, manure that Parsons hauls doesn’t line landfills but rather goes on to composting/recycling facilities or farmers. ❖
— Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.