While creating my educational and informative talk the other week, I was struck by how very poo-oriented my career path has turned out to be.
The house being so close to the cow sheds means that it is also close to a very large pile of manure at this time of year. And the slurry pit. Which gives this place that authentic medieval atmosphere. "Ew! What's that smell?" ask the children when they arrive at the courtyard.
"That," I say, "is the smell of the country." Their noses wrinkle in distaste.
"Smells like poo."
"It is poo".
They brighten up at this. Poo is always interesting. I explain how poo is useful, how poo went into the wattle and daub of the house. Poo helps the crops grow. I could give whole educational workshops, solely about poo.
Then there are the bats, whose inoffensive, mouse-like leavings have to be hoovered up and swept away each morning. "Oh, it's not all glamour in this job", I assert to those who pass by while I'm shaking the bat poo off the tyvek sheets of a morning.
Every year swallows return to their nest in the front porch. They are a great visitor attraction, swooping in and out just over your head, bringing back bugs snatched from the moat's surface to a row of gaping yellow beaks. And they are clean too. They do not soil their own nest. No. They poop over the side and leave a pyramid of poo on my doormat. Then, when the youngsters fledge, they inevitably fly into the house instead of out of the porch and away.
On such occasions visitors attempt such helpful manoeuvres as clapping their hands at the darting, diving birds, or shouting "Shoo! Hie!" and gesticulating at open windows. This serves only to make the birds more nervous and poopier than ever. "Well thank you for that," I mutter through clenched teeth, "but I think if we just leave them alone they'll find their way back out".
On discovering a swallow had left a big blob of poo on one of our portraits I contacted our curatorial experts for advice. Just what is the recommended method of removing bird poo from oil paintings? (Turns out it is distilled water, on a cotton bud, rolled, not scrubbed, across the offending matter). While I was given that helpful answer by one individual, my favourite response was from someone who told me that I "really shouldn't be letting birds poo on the paintings in the first place". Right you are then. Thanks for that. I shall stop making my own frames out of glue and packets of Trill then, shall I?
Yes, there are all kinds of crap to deal with.