NEWCASTLE, Maine — Every Sunday, Larry Russell and a group of friends sit outside Russell’s dairy farm at a place known for decades as “Cowshit Corner,” drink a couple of beers and dish on the state of the world, current events, and — sometimes — politics.
They’ve dubbed themselves “The Cherch of the Holy Cow,” and if Maine filmmaker Keith O’Leary has any luck, Russell, Fuzzy Crockett, Marijuana Pete and the others will soon be featured in a reality TV series named after the locale.
For 40 years, a series of signs along a stretch of Route 194 has proclaimed the area “Cowshit Corner.”
“It’s been a landmark for years,” O’Leary, of Newcastle, said Friday.
Russell, whose father raised Holsteins and Jersey cows on Dyer Valley Farm since the 1950s, said he woke up one morning decades ago to discover the sign.
He wasn’t sure, at first, what he thought of the name — but it was accurate.
“We were moving the cow [dung] from the barn, and we had to go on the road with every bit of it, and we spilled some of it,” he said. “One night some guys made a sign out of an old barn board that said, ‘Cowshit Corner, Slippery When Wet.’” Locals have called it that ever since, he said.
Each week, not far from that sign, Russell and his friends sit outside on five-gallon buckets if it’s sunny — or in the calf barn if it’s not — and shoot the bull.
O’Leary, an accomplished screenwriter whose credits include films starring Kris Kristofferson and Danny Aiello, stumbled upon the farm and the gathering and knew it had the makings of a hit.
“They’re a group of individuals who are friends — working men, friends for years — who have a different outlook on life,” he said. “Their philosophy is a bit different than most people. They don’t take themselves too seriously, but it’s interesting.”
It took awhile for “cherch” members to warm up to O’Leary — and to the idea of documenting their club.
“We didn’t know if we had anything of interest or not,” Russell said. “But then we watched some of the reality shows on TV, and we think we’re more interesting than some of them.”
Each episode features the gang in a new scenario. For example, one calls on them to go golfing. Russell said that while some of the guys have never golfed before, they’re ready to play.
Whatever they’re doing, Russell said, “There’s no script. It’s just us being us.”
Now that they’ve been shooting for a few months, O’Leary said they’re more comfortable with the plan. And as the “views” of O’Leary’s YouTube promos and “Likes” on his new Facebook page add up, Russell is even a little excited.
O’Leary plans to market his series at a trade show in January. But news of the show is already spreading fast, and O’Leary thinks he may have a buyer sooner than that.
Russell wonders if a network would approve a show with such an earthy title — and said even some locals are offended by the name. But he argued, “With some of the stuff they already have on TV … [our name] is minor.”
Recently, the corner’s signature sign was stolen, and a new one will be pricey, according to O’Leary. But Russell said he already has metal cut for the replacement, and O’Leary is planning a fundraiser to help with the cost.
If anyone can sell the reality series, it’s O’Leary, Russell said. But he said, “We’re having a little fun doing what we’re doing, and if it turns out to be something, we’ll have a little more fun.”