‘We need to get shovelling,’ Granma reminds. The dung pile is on the opposite side of the yard. Granma has forgotten to put her boots on but it’s a dry hot sort of autumn day. Dry dung dust skitters in a warm breeze. They haul bags and a spade and a small gardening fork out of the car to begin. Little Granddaughter sticks her miniature fork gamely into a dung globe and tips it into the first bag.
‘That’s hard work,’ she says, rubbing her back. ‘Phew-ee.’
Granma has ten bags to fill. She smiles.
‘We can go and see the cows again in a minute,’ the little one decides. She prongs another dung ball in.
Granma has the spade. She is thinking about the sound of the spade on the concrete yard, how the scrape sounds shiny because it’s metallic, it’s the association of shine and metal. The thunk into the dung heap does not sound shiny because one hears rather the thickness of the matter.
Little Grandaughter prongs in a third lump. She uses both hands to keep it balanced.
Granddad saunters down to help, he brings the big garden fork.
‘Hello,’ he says. He wipes his brow. he’s been building the supporting walls for a new raised bed. This is what the dung is for.
‘Shall we see the cows now?’ Little Grandddaughter asks. She is looking at her fork, which is small, and the dung pile, which is not. She puts the fork down.
‘Well, we can fill these bags first,’ Granma says. She leans down to jiggle a half filled load, to get a bit more in. She is about to suggest that the little one walks over to the cows anyway, it is only on the other side of the yard, a few metres distance.
‘Here’s some Granma!’ Pragmatic Little Granddaughter, beaming, angelic: holds in her bare hand a dried dog turd.
On the way back to the house Granma explains about how some poo is useful and some is less so but that none of it should be picked up with hands.
‘Yes Granma,’ she sighs.
They leave Granddad in the hot dry morning, shovelling up the good stuff.