First things first as we left you on rather a cliff hanger last time – the results came in, and the cattle got the “all clear” from the vet – no TB! Fantastic news and a huge relief.
For the disgruntled cows, who can smell the grass, and see the grass, but can’t yet get to the grass, once the vet was done with them, they were clear that it was time. Thankfully, everything was in place, and we could let them out, and as Adrian has written many times, this really is the highlight of the year – not just for the herd, but for us all too.
At last, the cows experience again the bright green lush grass of the outside world, having been mooing loudly to be let out of their winter quarters for quite a few days! As they run, gallop, and take nibbles of grass, the bystanders feel joyous too in sympathy. It is always an event enjoyed by the whole farm team. And this year on such a beautiful late spring sunny day.
The suckler herd were let out first – the mothers & babies, and Dwayne the Bull. They fairly galloped along the bridal path and into the field where the older members of the group kicked their heels up. They remember the fields and where to go, heading straight through one field to get to where we want them without any obvious guidance. The younger ones, for some, this is their first time on grass, and they follow the hard perfectly. The bull is last to arrive, and is greeted by the herd with much mooing, to which he bellowed back!
The Young Stock were put into field 7 by the house, so we were serenaded by their mooing – loud mooing! The noise is almost deafening when they are all with something to say – we couldn’t blame them for making their happiness so clear to us!
They both herds proceeded to move around the field as a group, eating as they go. The sun shone from above, the dandelions shone from below, and all was right in their world.
A week on, and it is clear that the cows are eating machines! They have been out in the fields for just a few days and already they need to be moved on to fresh pasture. This is because if a field is overgrazed, it takes longer to recover and therefore longer before animals can go back on the field.
So new grass needs to be found for the cows and at 2 fields eaten per week, the juggling starts. With the right weather conditions grass grows fast – warmth and some rain is perfect. This of course can’t be guaranteed. The species rich seed sown as part of a government scheme, means less nutrient packed pasture. It also means that those fields must be left untouched for a full 6 week stretch between May and July for the flowers to set seed. There are 50 hectares in the scheme and 20 hectares not in the scheme (left as rye grass rich pasture). There are also two fields out of the 50 hectares which will be left ungrazed and cut for hay. It’s like a maths lesson!
What is intriguing us are the patches in Field 7 that were eaten, and those that were left. Is it a message from another planet – we need to get a drone up to see! All we can do from the ground is put the sheep in next and see if they happily eat the areas the cow’s left.
We have put the homoeopathic remedy for Eye Health into the cow’s water in a bid to get ahead of the last few summers’ bane. Fingers are crossed.
Thanks to the weather so far, it is also looking like we will be able to cut hay from two fields this year – a very positive hope. Around the farm, the fields of dandelions are replaced with buttercups, and along the drive, the cow parsley is coming into flower. A calf is born, the first this year to be born outside, and born both on Coronation Day, and Alice’s birthday – she will have to be named of course. The question is whether “Alice-Charlie” or “Charlie-Alice” is best! The lambs continue to entertain playing on hale bales in the barn – it is all their very own playground now the cows are out.
For the farm team, Boots has been on a class trip, Youth Hostelling on Hadrian’s Wall – which has been a triumph; Alice and then Anne’s birthdays in these last days will be soon followed by Brendan’s; Six months have passed in a sleepwalking haze since Adrian passed, but at the same time, we are so grounded in the farm and the rhythms of the seasons that we remain anchored too.
Adrian would want a nod to the Coronation. So, to borrow a line from his blog last September after the death of Queen Elizabeth: “The monarch’s role is by tradition, and is, in its own right, a role of a sheet anchor, firmly established, and allows for knowledge gained over decades not to be lost.” Exactly. Wasn’t it splendid on so many levels.
‘Ode To a Cow‘ – The Old Farmers Almanac, 1936When life seems one too many for you,
Go and look at a Cow.
When the futures black and the outlooks blue,
Go and look at a Cow.
For she does nothing but eat her food,
and sleep in the meadows entirely nood,
Refusing to fret or worry or brood,
Because she doesn’t know how.
Whenever you’re feeling bothered or sore,
Go and look at a Cow,
When everything else is a fearful bore,
Go and look at a Cow.
Observe her gentle and placid air,
Her nonchalance and savoir faire,
Her absolute freedom from every care,
Her imperturbable brow.
So when you’re at the end of your wits,
Go and look at a Cow
Or when your nerves are frayed to bits,
And wrinkles furrow your brow;
She’ll merely Moo in her gentle way,
Switching her rudder as if to say:
“Bother tomorrow! Let’s Live today!
Take the advice of a cow!”