Cow Chip Bingo

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

May 13, 2003


            Cows have many uses. They give milk. Their hide makes nice car seats and wallets. Their meat makes an excellent main dish along with onions and a baked potato.

            But I never would have thought that cow poop, sometimes known as “cow chips” could literally be worth its weight in gold.

            A couple of alert parishioners, ever vigilant to the financial pressures of a growing parish, came up with a creative idea for a fundraiser. We call it “Cow Chip Bingo.”

            Actually, the idea is not original to us. We borrowed it from a parish in Pennsylvania.

            “Chop Chip Bingo” works this way.

First, we divide up our parish field into 4,000 little squares, each two feet by two feet. Each square is numbered. Then we lease out each square for the evening for $10. The “tenant” gets a little lease to record their ownership of that spot.

            Second, we borrow a well-fed, contented cow from a local farmer. We release her on our field about dinnertime.

Then we wait for her to do her business. The tenant of whatever square she “plops” on wins 10% of the “pot”, so to speak.

            That’s it.

Who would have ever thought it was so easy to turn cow poop into real “moo-la”.  (I can’t help myself.)

            You don’t have to call this fundraiser “Cow Chip Bingo.”

One fraternity at our most prestigious state university held a similar fundraiser on their front lawn. But they called it “Dumping for Dollars.”

I thought we should stick with “Cow Chip Bingo.” It has a nice ecclesiastical ring to it. After all bingo is closely associated with the traditions of the Catholic Church.

Operating Cow Chip Bingo is a lot more complicated than you might think. Consider the problems.

            For example, what if the cow is constipated? Would people wait for her in vain? We solved this problem by giving her a time limit. If she hasn’t pooped by sundown, we draw a winning number.

            On the other hand, what if she is, shall we say, “loose” (in the digestive, not the moral sense). She could indiscriminately select winners all over the place.

For this eventuality, we have a panel of expert judges. These sages are commissioned to review and measure the cow droppings in each square and apportion the winnings accordingly.

Even if Elsie deposits a nice consolidated cow pie; she might do it on a property line between squares. Once again, out comes our panel of expert judges, tape measure in hand.

            To my surprise, finding judges was not difficult. We have several poop experts. The local director of our county sewer department volunteered his professional knowledge of biodegradable waste. One mother volunteered, saying that she had changed enough diapers over the years to qualify. A farmer offered his experience, saying he had stepped in many a cow pie and could judge their size and consistency instantly.

            There is one other problem. What to do while we are waiting for the cow to “do her thing.”  We opted for square dancing and an auction.

Since we have to eat too, we will also have a barbeque. But the grills will be down wind of the cow, since she may be sensitive about us eating one of her relatives right there in front of her.

            So far the ticket sales are going great. Everywhere I go, people ask me about “Cow Chip Bingo.” Maybe we should take the cow on the road. Like they said in “Hello Dolly”, Money is like manure, it ain’t worth a thing unless its spread around. 

            This season, our financial hopes are pinned on good old “Elsie”. May she munch in peace and deposit within the lines.

            And if Dave Barry is reading this, I SWEAR I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!