RICHARD ORD: Case of the mystery poo

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ON the list of unlikely things to find in your back garden, ostrich poo will be nudging its way in the Ord top 10.

It’d be up there with Justin Timberlake, giant medieval catapults, or my wife mowing the lawn. You know, really unlikely sights.

Yet there it was, curled in an unpleasant pile in the top left hand corner of the lawn. Ostrich pap.

Our Isaac spotted it first. The steaming pile interrupted his daily half-hour mission to pummel all plant life and free standing objects in our garden with a football (he’s already accounted for the bird-feeder, shed door and ornamental tree, and we’re only four weeks into the school summer holidays).

On reporting the surprise deposit, the family leapt into action and ... waited for me to arrive home from work.

It was my duty to remove the mess (dealing with animal muck is a man thing. It’s number seven in the Good Wife Guide’s ‘bloke duty’ section. It’s sandwiched between 6. Catching spiders and 8. Doing anything else your wife doesn’t want to do).

The intervening hours between pap spotting and returning home, however, were not wasted.

The Ord clan spent a good part of it speculating on who, or what, could have been responsible.

A human was ruled out pretty early on. I agreed, but not for the reason given.

My wife had this theory. “If it was a weirdo doing a poo in the garden, they wouldn’t just leave it in the grass. They’d pick it up and smear it on the walls, or the patio windows, for effect.”

Thanks for that illuminating offender profile, Sherlock.

I suggested that it might be a dog, but was quickly shouted down – mainly, I suspect, because my theory lacked a certain level of excitement.

“Too big for a hedgehog,” my wife pondered, stroking her chin and puffing on a imaginary pipe. “I think it’s a fox. Yes, it’s a fox. They’ve been spotted around here.”

“Unlike dogs,” I said. “Which you never see.”

My sarcasm did not slip by Mrs Holmes.

“The gate was shut,” she said. “A dog couldn’t get in.” “Oh, you mean it was a spider-fox?” I said, but not out loud, that would just invite trouble. I’ve learned to keep my best comebacks inside my head. I’d rather be eating my dinner than wearing it.

The suggestion of a fox relieving itself in our back garden had serious implications.

Our rabbit (called Rockta), which lives in a hutch in our back garden, will not be boarding at the local pet shop when we go on holiday this year. It’s full. Apparently, because parents are getting fined for taking their children out of school, everyone is taking their holidays during the six-week break, which means the local pet shop is full of boarding rabbits, guinea pigs, etc.

Previously, many parents happily took their children out of school for the last week of term so they could enjoy a cheaper holiday.

Personally, I don’t want my children to miss the last week of term and I insist they attend the final five days before the school break. I feel it’s important that they hone their DVD-watching skills!

Our Rockta, therefore, will be staying at home, getting looked after by a pal who will visit every day to replenish his supplies. The spectre of a fox roaming the garden, however, concerned my wife.

As we retired to bed that night, she was sitting bolt upright flicking through her mobile phone screen.

“It’s not a fox,” she mumbled. “Not a badger either, there’s is slimy.”

She had logged on to Yes, a website devoted to animal faeces.

Each description is illustrated with various high definition photographs of the animal’s droppings.

It’s exactly what Tim Berners-Lee had in mind when he developed the World Wide Web.

I checked out the site and, yep, the deposit in the garden was not a fox, but it was remarkably similar to the excretion of an ostrich.

It’s either that, or a cat. My money’s on the ostrich (their flexible necks and slim beaks mean they are more adept at lifting the latches on garden gates) but either way our Rockta is safe. Neither cats nor ostriches feed on rabbits.

Thank you

Thank you.