Tag Archives: cows


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.
Foraging Ability:
Docility: Hereford cattle are famous for their good temperament…
Ease of Calving:

Ease of management:
Quality Beef:

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.

Farm 3.13

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.

Farm 3.13

They eyed me with varying degrees of suspicion and resentment:

Farm 3.13

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.

Farm 3.13

The cows decided rather than enjoying the new grass around them, that they really wanted to come into this field.

Farm 3.13

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.

Farm 3.13




From farm emergency to emergency

I spent most of the morning weeding, but only after the feeding. The lambs were happy to see me, and Sandy is no longer my favourite. Those goddamn docks keep seeding and I have been speeding to lop off their heads and chop them down — I have discovered that the only way to be safe with flowering docks is to send the whole of them to the muck heap as they seed up and down every stem. Every time I look closely at the mulch pile on the raised bed I see the still-living flower heads growing up from the stems I cut a week ago quite certain I had removed the flowers. Wrong.

Lessons learned. Emergency in the making? Just like every hogweed and nettle flowerhead. It is too late now, I should have been doing this a month ago. I should have known better.

And did I tell you the tractor caught on fire yesterday, or was it the day before? It did. Fault with the wiring which is hopefully fixed, and it’s raining today so it should be just fine right? But I didn’t see it myself, so it’s almost like it didn’t happen, still, I am collecting emergencies. There have been infinite and ongoing small ones, but I have set a limit on size and scale you see — so I thought perhaps the milk for my morning coffee getting pinched this morning from the fridge didn’t quite make it into the list, because by after lunch my bitterness had gone.

The rain fell fairly relentlessly so I spent much of the morning in the polytunnel, destroying docks and burdock and mizuna run amuck and creeping thistles.

This afternoon, Leo and I cleaned out the cow trailer with a broom, a brush, and little more than a trickle of water. I remembered the pressure washer with great affection and even longing. Scrubbing and scrubbing and I am so tired. A little after four we went to let the cows into the middle path, but before we could send them through the hurdles we had to rig up, we were swept off to help deal with a proper spectacular emergency as the cows in the far field had got out, and were in the neighbour’s silage field. Off we went to collect them up — it was nice sitting down in a car. Very nice indeed. I had time to remember how beautiful it is here. Then we collected the cows, walked them down the lane (the cars had to stop for us and we ambled along cow-paced and it was the highlight of the day) and into their proper field. Bob fixed up where they had broken loose. We found the two cows we thought we were short, they had stayed in the field. Endless evening emergency search averted.

I wish I had pictures.

Almost 7 we got back and the poor lambs and Sandy and Lilly the kid still needing to be fed.

So. Tired.

Walk: Wigber Low – Tissington – Fenny Bentley – Ashbourne – Kniveton

This was longer again than it was supposed to be, I missed the bus in Ashbourne by five minutes, and on a Sunday that is no joke.

Wigber Low was amazing and I’ll write more about it — neolithic grave platform and two tumuli, Roman remains and Anglo-Saxon burials and lead smelting, amazing.

Down to Bradbourne Mill, which was beautiful, over to Tissington, a planned estate village and very twee  — much like that of Chatsworth House though not quite as grand. But it is also full of wells and traditions of dressing the wells, which was cool. Lots of Brexit signs. I am still regretting not getting pasties or a pie from the butchers. I did, however, visit the sweet shop.

Down to Fenny Bentley past a much more humble tumulus, a wonderful old hall that is all patchworked and complete with tower and farmhouse and looks small and I quite wanted it. It even had a moat once.

To the Tissington trail, an old railway line and paved and not quite what I wanted but still alright — especially the amazing tunnel and the graffiti warning to Dr Who — to Ashbourne, with its racist wooden sign across the main street announcing the Black’s Head. I’m not sure I want such things taken down or left to stand as a critique to remind us of how things used to be but only if I’m sure they remind of us of how things used to be. I’m not sure. Also, an inn in which Boswell stayed for a night. He’d love the plaque. There were no obvious pie or pasty shops there, and I am not sure I forgive them.

And then back to Kniveton, a lot of main road and some overgrown footpaths which was rather terrible, though there was one awesome squeeze stile with its two old stones made more secure by a white cabinet door. Then I was chased by mother cows with calves from a field (did they want food or to kill me? I just don’t know). I mean, the one cow starting going on furiously and running at me, not ambling, and the others followed her so I ran back because the holly hedge was impassable. They stared back at me when I reached safety. They did not continue in friendly fashion to inquire about food. They were probably alright because I had no dog, but on that tractor ride I heard of a man recently killed by cows ‘defending’ their calves, they’re not always alright. I got home and everyone was out checking livestock on far flung fields belonging to friends and a brother-in-law, so I made myself a sandwich of St Agur and chorizo and snagged a banana.

Sunday. I am tired and it’s work tomorrow.

[FAG id=5624]

First day on the new farm

It is beautiful — they have all been beautiful but this is absurdly picturesque and scenic and also messy due to being a working farm, so I love it. It is very close to Wirksworth, funnily enough, where last year we had some terrifying apocryphal adventures, and some incredible real adventures, cementing my love for this area just south of the Peak District. I think it will only grow here, this farm has:

An awesome dog
a couple of cats I have only seen from afar

We are bottle feeding lambs, a goat and a calf.

This farm also has barrows and a quarry and an old lime kiln, I took a walk up through the fields today with the little guide, and I shall write more but here are a few pictures, a view from the top of the mounds with all the hawthornes in bloom:

Farm 3.1

The quarry:

Farm 3.1

Farm 3.1

Herefords! I learned lots about these guys today, but am too tired to share

Farm 3.1

Coming back up the lane:

Farm 3.1

Farm 3.1

Home for the next month:

Farm 3.1

And the view from my door:

Farm 3.1


The moors

I walked out of Glenfall and down the road, past the Howwood Inn and up past the football pitch, down along the road that leads to…god damn, I’ve forgotten the little village, it’s where Michael lives, I remember walking down that road several times in company of Michael and Knoxie and Spider, too and from copious amounts of drinks, particularly one sunny Monday when I attended a barbecue with several chefs from the Johnstone area who tend to have Mondays off and I got a sunburn. First and last Scottish sunburn I must say, a unique event in the annals of history. One of the chefs lay comatose on the grass after a long wedding weekend, a wreck the like of which I have never seen after days of drinking and no sleep and a memorable but highly ill advised battle amongst the men with their wooden skean dhus which had left him with the most hideous bruises imaginable.

But today I made the first right up the hill and towards the moors, the sky was grey and it was raining, light rain, the sort of rain where the air is half water half mist and the wind blew hard against my face. Last I was up here was late spring and the day was clearer, Ben Lomond rose up in the distance covered in snow. Ben Lomond today lay shrouded in mist, unseen, looming on the edges of my imagination, the world reduced to the steep climb between the trees of Skipton wood, the gurgling of the burn to my right. I love the woods, and yet…and yet coming to the edge of the trees, seeing the green expanse of the moor rising open before me fills me with a fierce joyful sort of wildness. The wind screams up here, mist driven into your face, hair whipping around your head. Sheep watch you warily and if you come too close they bounce away (there is something about sheep running that always makes me laugh and I’ve tried to pinpoint why I find it so delightful but haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it). I wandered fiercely joyful along the curve of the moor, the bog of the old damn to my left, heather and moss and long grass beneath my feet, a sort of gothic elf today not having packed at all for moors so I had my trousers rolled up to my knees, long black socks, smart black trainers, black sweater…and I tried to take pictures but the moors in the rain defy capture.

It got exciting when I came to the first burn, having passed the hill where an early pict settlement supposedly once lay though nothing now remains…that too loomed large in my imagination as it could not be seen really through the weather. But the burn ran high, after a minute peering up and down in a vain search for likely rocks, I grinned and stepped into it, and continued to squelch happily on my way. The moors don’t go on far enough for me, they are over far too soon, and I had to make the left through the gate to pass the little farm. This time I was squelching through mud heavily enriched by cows, luckily I came to another burn and freed myself of the enrichment. And then back onto the lonely little country roads and winding down the hill and the sun came out to sparkle on the wet grass and summer flowers and pick out the shaggy coats of the cows as they stood watching me incuriously curious. This one was my favourite, all alone in his field and I spose unhappy in his loneliness, he stared at me and then followed me for 20 minutes or so, ambling slowly alongside the fence

I almost danced down the hill, past the trout fishery, down and down and back to Howwood. The world was gloriously beautiful as you can see and the small things full of wonder.

Once the sun was out the pictures came alive of course, the light against dark clouds extraordinary and beautiful. Still, the sun did not come out for long, and played hide and seek with the rain which never quite let up. It had almost disappeared again for the last look back to where I had come from:

And now I am sitting in an airport, on my way to London and 4 days of great things…


Apple Valley

Just got back from a little staff retreat at Highland Springs in Apple Valley…how much do I love the people I work with??  Thursday late morning we drove up and did a lot of work, then we swam, lay by the pool, relaxed in the sauna, ate a dinner we didn’t have to cook, played a little soccer, drank beers and margaritas and told a lot of very funny and very innapropriate stories (which I cannot relate here in mixed company) until really late.

I got up early in spite of the late night, the fact that I was still a little drunk probably helped with that, and went for a hike, it is such a beautiful place!  The path initially went straight up…here is one of the views:

And I believe this is what I would look like if I could ever find the courage to get up onto a pair of stilts…

Walked and ran back down, had breakfast, did some more work, swam, laid by the pool, relaxed in the sauna…mmm….lovely.

We had seen the signs for a cherry festival in Beaumont, so we decided to stop on the way back home and pick up some cherries, and some pies, and some funnel cake and who knew what else?  There was a little carnival but the first thing that met our eyes was this shining example of carnie culture…

And guess who else was there?

Yep…God.  We were pretty excited until we found out that not only was it $5 to get in, but that with all of our crazy weather, and possibly global warming, there were in fact no cherries.  Although tempted to pay $5 just to ask God how he could allow a tragedy like this to happen and possibly hit him in the eye, I sadly piled back into the car and Bev drove off.  At the edge of Beaumont we passed El Rancho restaurant and cocktails,

But  no one else was feeling the same uncontrollable urge to stop there and fill up on MGD so we continued on, back to home sweet home…

Disgusting que no?  Just imagine what the inside of my lungs looks like breathing in all of this crap!  Everytime I come back to LA I ask myself, why oh why do I live here?  Soon, soon I’ll be gone.  That little white flash of light middle left is Gehry’s Disney Hall by the way, isn’t it shiny?  I live about 10 blocks from there, in the heart of the smoggy darkness…