With regard to time, here's the latest poop

By Christie C. Babbit, Deseret News staff writer

PROVO - it's a dirty job, but somebody had to think of it. Kristin Murdock, a vivacious new business owner, is offering an interesting - if rather degusting - new product that's caught interest inside and outside the United States: cow pie clocks.

Murdock admits with laughter that some people who see her cow pie creations tell her it's sick. However, those are the same people who moments later are telling her who they know that would like one.

"I know this is strange. It's kind of sick in a way, but it sells and it's fun!" she said after showing off her production facility - a picnic table in her back yard - at her Provo home.

For those who may be a bit queasy about using a cow pie as a decorative item in the home, Murdock assures them that these pies are not at all stinky or gross.

"These are desert-baked... They are not the least bit damp," she says.

In fact, Murdock gushes excitedly about the beauty found in each cow pie, admiring the color variations or the interesting rocks embedded in the back.

"I think they're just real pretty," she said.

Each cow pie clock comes with a display stand and a saying attached such as "A Chip off the Old Clock," "You Dung Good," "You are Heaven Scent" or "You're Outstanding in Your Field."

Murdock will provide whatever saying the customers wants. She has lists to choose from, with more suggestions coming in continually from friends and customers.

It all started one day when Murdock was hiking in a canyon by Lake Powell, discovered some old cow pies and was fascinated by them. Sealing some up in plastic bags, she brought them home with no idea what she would do with them. Then it occurred to her that a clock might look good in them.

"My biggest struggle of all was what to dip these in, what to put on the outside," Murdock said. "I tried probably $300 worth of glazes."

She needed a substance that would seal the outside of the pies and make them more durable; the pies tend to crumble easily. The solution: a glaze used on old wooden boats. "That seemed to stick on the outside and make them tougher," she said.

She started giving a few out to friends as gifts, with her big break coming after she gave a clock to a relative who was a friend of entertainer Donny Osmond. Murdock said Osmond called her wanting a clock himself, so she made him one and delivered it to him.

A few weeks later, her relative called and said to turn on "Donny and Marie," Osmond's daily talk show. There, Murdock saw Osmond showing off her clock to a nationwide audience.

Murdock panicked; she didn't even have a name for business. She hurriedly took care of setting up shop and the calls began coming. Other media attention has helped carry the momentum forward, and Murdock is now selling her clocks around the country. She even did a live interview with a radio station in Japan about her clocks.

"I've sold hundreds of pies" since beginning the business in January, she said. Currently, Murdock travels to southern Utah's deserts about every three weeks to gather cow pies. Northern Utah is too wet, she explained; the pies have to be totally dry.

"They're everywhere," she said, adding that she collects about 400 at a time, carefully placing each one in a plastic bag and loading them into her car.

Each pie is dipped in a bucket of glaze and placed on rows of nails hammered into a wooden retaining wall in Murdock's backyard to dry for about five hours. Due to the fragile nature of the pies, she can't work if the air is damp or it's raining.

A neighbor then drills the hole through the middle. The holes are precisely measured so the clocks can be slipped inside and remain there securely.

Prices for the clocks range from $39.95 to $49.95, depending on the size of the finished product. The largest pie she has made into a clock measures approximately 15 inches by 15 inches, she said.

Murdock gets a lot of enjoyment out of the stories that go along with the sales. One older couple wanted the words "Poopsie" on their cow pie because it had been their pet name for each other. A man in Wyoming sent Murdock cow pies from his own ranch to be made into clocks for his ranch hands, she said.

For more information on Murdock's cow pie clocks, call 1(801) 225-1152 or check out Murdock's Web site.

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