Q. Dear Twig: What's that paper made from elephant dung like? What about from buffalo chips?
A.: Well, I'll tell you. I have in my hands here a sheet of each one. The elephant paper is tan, thick and actually pretty. Flat and rough on one side. And rough and bumpy on the other. The bumps are bits of the elephant's food — plants — that didn't get fully digested. Best to write on the non-bumpy side.
Does it stink? OK. I'm putting it under my nose. I'm taking a great big whiff. Sniiiiiff! Result: Ah! Doodeeee! Kidding. There's no smell to it. No smell at all. Nice.
Now for the buffalo, or bison, paper. The color is brown, like sandy soil. There's an earthy, prairie-y beauty to it. The piece I have has a cool block stamp of a bison on it.
Again, does it reek? Again, I snork deeply. And again, what I smell … what I smell is … nothing! A-OK and odor-free!
Dung paper shows us there's no waste in nature!
P.S. Both of these papers don't taste too bad, either. Woo hoo! Woo hoo hoo! Ew. (P-too.)
Notes: Absorb more knowledge about dung paper, if you haven't dung so already, in Twig's Jan. 27, 2008, column, http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~news/story.php?id=4457 . The elephant-dung paper came from Thailand by way of a company called RainbowGifts USA, http://www.rainbowgifts-usa.com/elephant_dung_paper . The bison-dung paper came from a wonderfully named company called Dung and Dunger, http://www.dunganddunger.net/ , with the paper and the block stamps made by hand by an artist named Victor Bruha. He lives in a place with an equally wonderful name, Blackfoot, Idaho, which may or may not be due to all the bison and their leavings around.
"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College — is a weekly column for kids about science, nature, farming and/or the environment. It's written at a 4th-grade reading level. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, email@example.com, (330) 263-3776. Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.