|Our Manure Machines|
There is a reason we rednecks are referred to as sh*t kickers, and it's not just because city folks think we're big and dumb. (In fairness, anybody who spends time around cattle or other livestock could be called a sh*t kicker. You kick loads of manure, whether you intend to or not - the stuff is everywhere.)
No, I believe the phrase arises from the jealousy city folks feel over our traditional redneck pastime of kicking cow patties around the pasture. In addition to the hilarity caused when watching someone line up for a cow patty kick, there's quite a bit of value in kicking poo, including the benefits of manure spread as fertilizer; the reduction of unsightly cow patty mounds that linger in the pasture for ages (which the fire ants love and the cows won't graze near); and the increase in heart elevation and muscle tone due to the exercise.
But cow patties differ in their suitability for kicking. Therefore, there is an art to kicking poo, as follows:
Weather: the freeze / thaw cycle works wonders on the creation of crumbleocity, so there's good kicking to be had in winter. Regardless of the time of year, choose dry days when the temperature is between approximately 45 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the day is too wet, you're likely to slip while taking aim and letting loose with your kick.
Too much colder than 45 F and the cow patty will tend toward frozen, hurting your foot when you kick it. (They're hard as bricks when they're frozen - yes, we've learned that the hard way.)
Much hotter than 90 F and the dang things crust over quickly, fooling you into thinking they have the potential for good crumbleocity but instead smearing all over your foot.
Footwear: you can kick cow patties in your bare feet or sandals, but I don't recommend it. (Icky between the toes. Enough said.) Cowboy boots work fine, but I prefer wellies because they're easily rinsed off. If you're inclined to kick when the weather is cold, choose wellies with steel-toes to protect your toes.
Patty selection: this is where the true art comes in. Wet cow patties don't crumble well at all, and they don't travel any distance when kicked. Cow patties that are too dry might fly a fair distance, but don't crumble. (They are an excellent choice for that other traditional redneck pastime, the cow chip flip.)
The perfect cow patty to provide good crumble and distance / spread when kicked is only slightly moist and still well mounded. It's dark in color or is starting to turn a lighter brown in places and has lost that 'new poo' sheen.
When you kick a cow patty with solid crumbleocity, it spreads in a "V" from the point of origin, fanning out to six feet or more. Delightfully satisfying.
This, I believe, is the origin of the phrase 'sh*t kicker'. If the label has been slapped upon you, wear it with pride and know that those city folks are really hoping to join in, and wondering if Prada makes a wellie suitable for patty kicking...