Do You Have To Let It Linger?

You know that… that thing garlic does? When, hours after you’ve eaten it, washed your hands half off and excoriated your mouth assiduously, it’s still clearly detectable at 100 paces? Clinging to you as lovingly as an orphaned Orangutan, but sadly lacking in hairy orange cuteness? Yes? Well, sheep shit is just the same.

Sheep shit, I have decided, is my bête noir; there isn’t a power shower in Christendom that’ll shift the smell of the stuff off me once I’m daubed with the slightest smear of it. Just as I think that several gallons of water, liberal applications of soap, a complete change of clothes and a lapse of several hours have permitted me to call myself Clean, I catch an unmistakable whiff of digested grass, and it’s all to do again.

Oddly, John is not affected in the same way, and has no problem divesting himself of any stubborn ovine fragrance with a few brisk scrubs; his particular nemesis is silage (fermented grass). He has complained bitterly in the past that every nail brush he has ever owned is only capable of shifting the sweet, distinctive pong of it off his hands for an hour. Or, the amount of time it takes him to leave the bathroom, dry off, get dressed, and arrive at the pub. The warm pub. Where there is often a reasonable amount of lifting-contaminated-hand-near-face action taking place, albeit usually in the camouflaging company of others who have also been silaging busily and can therefore be conveniently Blamed – much like an elderly spaniel who obligingly comes for a pat when you have a fart building up that you know perfectly well will leave a near-solid vapour cloud.

I tell you this because Harry became fairly clarted in sheep shit earlier this afternoon. I hadn’t especially planned another afternoon spent farming as he’s gone along to plenty of sheep work lately, but he caught sight of the JCB Loadall and Landrover over a hedge coming back from a playgroup and shrieked like a runaway steam train until I braked to a halt. I drove into the field for a quick round of hellos to my in-laws who have been in the States for a couple of weeks, helped shoo the flock into the pen, and belatedly noticed that John had sneakily constructed an impenetrable network of hurdles in front of the gate. Consequently, we stayed to watch an aggravatingly large number of sheep dosed, with what I told Harry was Calpol medicine and cream for itches, but was actually wormer and protection from blow-fly strike. 

Harry is as fully magnetised to excrement as any child of his age and weight in Great Britain, and the grass was thick with rich green deposits of it. Once his shoes had picked up what he considered to be a sufficiently varied sample, he cheerfully re-distributed plenty of it in the Landrover, which has, thankfully, plastic seats. He smeared some more of it over the JCB seat, which is (puzzlingly) fabric – and which his father later sat in. He then proceeded to clamber into my car before I cottoned on to the danger, and adorned my driver’s seat with a quintessentially rural abstract mural. (If I hadn’t been able to work out why the bloody smell followed me around everywhere prior to this event, I can probably identify one likely contamination route now.)

Anyhoo, we came home, had tea, and Harry was despatched for a bath, seeing as he had now added a generous layer of pasta sauce to the existing grime. 20 minutes of intensive splashing later, he was as clean as an outdoors-loving two-and-three-quarter-year-old ever is (I’d say 99%. There always seems to be a sploge of paint situated somewhere unlikely that manages to evade the parental censor), pyjama-ed up and demanding a story in bed. I duly read Aliens in Underpants at his insistence, and bent down to kiss him goodnight – whereupon I had a gentle but distinct waft of sheep shit perfume, right between the eyes. I blinked and moved in for a second go… and… Yes. Definitely ovine in origin.

It must have been oozing out of his pores. Silaging is a little way off yet, so it’s early to say, but I think Harry takes after his mother. Poor lad. We must remember to warn him never to stand near the fire in the pub.


14 Responses

  1. Ahhh silage, I used to work at a riding stables and we fed the horses hayledge (which I’m guessing is slightly less pungent). Luckily i worked friday night so had a whole weekend to loose the smell before school on Monday!

  2. I’ve found that eating fruit (usually citrus) will help with the garlic, but I doubt that it would do anything for sheep shit. But, if Harry decides to farm like his father, I doubt he’ll care too much about it.

  3. Only cure for sheep-shit:- cow-shit.

    This does not, however, improve the warm pub experience.

  4. I have to admit that, despite living in a fairly rural area and environs, I am not acquainted with the peculiar smell of sheep shit. Now I’m half curious, half just as glad I don’t know!

    Unless you ever travel ‘cross the pond to our part of the world… maybe I’ll learn something then 😉

  5. I’m pretty sure my daily life in suburban San Diego is rather different than yours. I’m still giggling here!!

  6. Hairy Hubby intercepted me this morning.

    ‘I read your post!’
    ‘And I can tell you why tractors all have fabric seats!’
    ‘Oh ah?’ (I save all my erudition for the innernets)
    ‘Oh! Sweaty?!’


    • Ah yes. All the distressing chapping a chap’s chap can chafe under given lack of absorbency of surrounding environment…

      (Sorry. I’ve been in a pub with mad people all evening. I wasn’t drinking, but the mad seems to have got in by osmosis).

  7. This is enlightening. The things I never knew!
    Of course they do say perfume smells different according to the individual skin it’s on, don’t they? Same principle, no doubt. Just a bit less sweet-smelling in the case of fresh merde de sheep. And on the choice of fabric for the seats – I bow gravely before John’s superior knowledge of these things.

  8. “I thought nothing could go wrong… but I was wro-ong, I was wro-ooooong”….

  9. Hmm. Not sure of my response to this post. Brain has gone off in invention mode thinking of designing a farm transport vehicle with drain in the floor so that owner can hose it out when necessary. Not able to bring it back on topic at all.

    Good luck with removing Scent du Sheepie from Harry.

  10. Paint is definitely clean dirt. Says Brown Owl… who is thinking about a bath after a sleepover…

  11. I am weeeeeping with laughter.

    With you, I hastily add. WITH you.

  12. If I had a dollar for each time I came here.. Great writing.

  13. Very great writing! Really.

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