A Odney Cowpat.
When complaints of cowpats on Odney Common were started, it opened up a whole bag of Cookham history, of which I am about to relate to one and all. First off, the photo above is of a cowpat sent to me by one of my enthusiastic readers of the blog of a cowpat on Odney Common, for which I say thank you.
I don’t suppose many of you realize that dried cowpats or sometime known as cow chips have been used as fuel for heating and cooking for thousands of years around the world, which also included droppings from Elephants, Camels and Buffalos.
Here is an extract from Cookham’s history by Stephen Darby in 1831:
Clatting was a somewhat important occupation with the poor, and was carried out by the elderly women. When the cow droppings in Widbrook, Odney and Cockmarsh were sufficiently solidified, they were turned over or balanced in pairs edgeways to dry.
When dry, they were collected and carried home for fuel, being then known as Cow-chips. The material, being light, admitted of very large loads, which were carried, on the heads and a moderate wind, even, sadly interfered with the chattering with which ordinarily the homeward journey was accompanied.
In the photo above taken in the mid 1800’s of a lady taking home a wheel barrow load of dried cow chips. So you can now see even then, the villagers of Cookham knew how to re-cycle waste materials.
Today in various parts of the world they still hold Cow Chip Throwing Competitions, to see who can throw their chip the furthest.