Monday, 18 January 2010
The cattle came
It's quiet today. The children are back at school, thanks to warm rain washing away the snow. Husband is at work, kittens are asleep on a cushion at my feet. Out through the window I can see several of the chickens scratching away at the earth. I'm back to work too, editing a children's book, but I'll take a quick break to reminisce about this past Autumn.
As you know, we bought The Larches just over four months ago and it was in a bit of a state - a project is the polite term. We knew we needed to cut the fields and the hedges desperately needed three years growth removed. Being new I asked around to find a hedge-cutter and was rewarded with a telephone number. Trying to telephone a farmer in August is useless - they're out and about till way past bedtime. They know the winter is on it's way. I asked neighbours for his mobile number but they just laughed.
One day I spied his enormous green tractor down a grassy track, a cutting blade shredding someones hedge. I’ll never know if he saw me immediately or whether he just thought it amusing that a high-heeled woman had to chase his tractor for almost a mile. Its fair to say that he is a little past his dancing days, with wild long white hair and twinkly eyes. A font of knowledge. He agreed to cut our hedges.
I swaggered indoors and bravely phoned the local beef farmer to ask if we could borrow his cows to eat down our fields. I was on a roll; he agreed too.
The day fifty cows arrived was thrilling. They stampeded on to the land, bull, cows, calves calling to one another, upset to be on unfamiliar territory. Beautiful shades of brown, cream, black and white charged this way and that. If it hadn’t been for the farmer, his wife and sons calming them, I think they would have broken through the fences and run home. The herd stayed for a few weeks and ate everything in sight, enthralling the then four year old with their anal explosions.
In late Autumn the scenery from our sash windows began to change. The wild summer meadows were replaced by neatly eaten fields and squared hedges while the woodland behind the pasture began to turn to coppery hues. Its a wonderful view.