I am a day behind, so this is actually yesterday’s post on cows. And some mysterious news is taking me up to Glasgow on Thursday, so time here is cut short! I am a little sad, because I still haven’t written on the farm itself, but I will tomorrow. Today?
They are really big.
Especially these cows, beef cattle, Herefords. I found this on the Hereford cattle website, containing all you want to know about why these are good cows to have (though they are trying to sell you Herefords, it’s true):
Identity: Throughout its history the Hereford has maintained its distinctive white face and red coat. All cross-bred Hereford cattle feature a white face, a distinct advantage for easier traceability and future predictability.
Docility: Hereford cattle are famous for their good temperament…
Ease of Calving:
Ease of management:
So there you have it — the black cattle in the herd have been crossed with Holstein-Friesian cattle, the kind of cow most often pictured in the books belonging to small children and on Ben and Jerry’s ice cream tubs. You see a field of these cows? You’re probably safe to go into it.
When you sell cows for meat they are graded on how much fat they have. How can you tell if your cows are too fat? You look at the bulge where their tail meets their body. These cows are getting up there.
We were moving the cows to a new field, but needed them to spend some time in the bridle path connecting the two eating the grass there as well, so the plan was to have Leo at one end and myself at the other in case a walker came along wanting to use the bridle path.
Cows DO like moving into the next field.
So they entered the passage fairly easily, bringing the sheep along with them. The sheep are in full agreement with the cows on the moving-into-a-new-field thing.
So easy, right? I stood there, got out my kindle with some joy after appreciating the view for a few minutes and idly pondering life and cows.
It turns out Cows DO NOT like remaining in fairly narrow paths between fields.
With a thundering, they all came racing back towards me. In discovering whether the grass was greener on the other side, they had ALL left their calves behind in a clump at the end of the old field, which we hadn’t quite realised. That combined with not liking narrow enclosed spaces is what sent them running back we think. Straight at me. A fence in between, but still.
Cows are really big.
One skidded a few feet in the mud (it’s been raining for days and days, finally some sun that afternoon). Trying to stop.
Finally after great commotion they gradually reunited with their calves. Milled around a bit.
They eyed me with varying degrees of suspicion and resentment:
They headed down to the other end, came running back to me again. In the process trampling the nice new grass. The sheep had had enough.
The cows decided rather than enjoying the new grass around them, that they really wanted to come into this field.
They brought horseflies with them. I fucking hate horseflies. I have a few new welts. I also have more empathy with cows, who were covered in the things.
They trampled down the grass, left great ruckings in the ground, stripped leaves off of trees, and when their hour was up, we let them into the next field along. They seemed very happy there today.
After such a day — and that day the other group all got out of the far field and we herded them back along the road — I have realised that while I like cows all right, I do not love them. In the face of the kind of admiration raised amongst those around me, which I witnessed as we stood around for a rather long time staring over the fence at the said cows, I had to acknowledge I was lacking something. A beautiful something.
I shall leave you with a poignant image of bovine longing, and you can decide whether you have it or not.