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Infants will happily sample their own shit. Five year olds will collapse in uncontrollable giggles if you say ‘poo poo wee wee’. Few adults find their inner scatologist but Sarah has. Not, I hasten to add, that she takes it to the limit. She is simply obsessed with animal effluent, and like a gypsy tea-leaf reader at the fair, diagnoses everything from a tablespoonful of cack. I sometimes have to bring back the dog shit from a walk so she can work out if their diet is correct, if they have worms, are unhappy, or need therapy.  

Today, I walked back from the sheep’s summer pasture with a bucketful of sheep-shit.  Not for Sarah to analyse but to put on the compost heap. Sarah had already analysed it while she cut it off the sheep’s behinds with a pair of shears in a process every public schoolboy will recognise, called Dagging. This is to avoid flies laying their eggs in the encrusted-wool cloaking the cloaca and then feeding on the sheep from the inside. Lovely. 

My job is to hold the sheep rigid while Sarah kneels at the rear alter and hacks away at what looks like a Rastafarian dipped headfirst into a sewer then hung out to dry. Grunting and sweating, I do my best. A large sheep that doesn’t want its bum meddled with by a woman with shears isn’t easy to restrain. And Sarah is a perfectionist, so it takes a long time. ‘For God’s sake Christopher, keep it still. I know you’re bored’ she spat at me, when I began to flag at the third sheep. ‘But I’m enjoying myself.’ I rest my case.

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