Tag Archives: cows

Looking at Me with Their Eyes

1 Jun

“They’re there again,” said Bunty, glancing uncomfortably through the window. “Looking at me with their eyes.”

The Aberdeen Anguses were put into the sheep field behind our cottage at the beginning of May, and since then they have all been cow-eyed over Bunty. Here they are just after they arrived.

The field is vast, stretching into the far distance, yet whenever Bunty steps outside the house, the cows are there to greet him. When he goes into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, they are gazing in through the window. When he sits in the garden, they hold a vigil. Just as cats are drawn to twine themselves round the throats of those who are allergic to them, these cows can’t stop staring at a man who feels weird about eye contact.

Even at night, they appear. Bunty’s brother came by, and it was dark by the time he left. The cows knew. They were waiting by the drive when Bunty went outside. As he said his goodbyes, they stood there and watched him. With their eyes.

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The Thieving Fog

21 Jan

Today’s frost was so thick it looked like snow, and the fog crept in around the cottage, gradually obliterating the world. The fields, which in the summer had been home to the curious cattle at the top of my blog, now looked like this.

The cattle themselves had long disappeared, and I’ve avoided thinking too hard about where they went. But today was the sort of day that brings thoughts of death and endings closer to the surface. The road my feet took me along has claimed the lives of many wildlife, and our dear rabbit Harvey. A car blasted its horn at me as it shot out of the fog and back into it. I was on the verge, but the driver couldn’t tell.

Farm buildings loomed suddenly into view. The farmyard was empty and silent. There were no shadows beyond the enveloping shadow of the fog itself, and everything was frozen rigid. But as I passed the final barn, I heard a muffled thump. I paused.

There it was again: thump, thump… scrape.

And silence.

I wondered if the farmer might be working in there. But it didn’t sound like someone hard at work. It was too erratic. I knew I shouldn’t, but curiosity got the better of me, and I crept towards the barn door.

Thump. Scrape.

Thump.

I peered over the barn door, and here is what I saw:

They are the cows from the summer fields. And this is where they went.

 

The Good Life

11 Jan

This morning I left our wee gatehouse and strolled along the lane towards the old manor. The sun was breaking between the trees lining the way, casting stripes of gold and shadow across the snow. I could see bird prints and cat prints and pine marten prints criss-crossing over the tyre marks. The air smelled of meltwater and damp wood. A fine start, I thought, to my New Year endeavour to become fit and healthy by going for walks.

The old manor is home to three generations of an eccentric family intent on living the Good Life. That is to say, they dream of becoming self-sufficient, of producing their own food through farming and hunting. Their grounds are beautiful and a haven for wildlife, and what the family lacks in knowledge, they make up for in enthusiasm. When I first moved here, I saw two highland cattle – all horns and hair –  grazing on their lawn. But the cow failed to calf, and was given away to join a herd some miles away. The bull remained on his own, growing grumpier and grumpier until he too was given away. The following year, a pair of Tamworth pigs appeared. These animals greeted all passers-by with an abundance of delight, squealing the place down and barrelling towards us so fast that they were unable to stop, and would skid uncontrollably through the mud until they hit the gate. Within the first week, they had churned their meadow into a mudbath. After a month, the pigs’ legs had disappeared in the mire, so their owner started placing wooden planks on top of it as walkways for the animals. More and more walkways appeared, crisscrossing the meadow between sty and gate and trough and hay, and were gradually subsumed into the mud. And so the pigs were got rid of. That was last year.

Here’s what I found this morning when I emerged from the trees.

And they’re brown! A lovely chocolate brown that I have never seen on turkeys before. The ones I grew up around were black and white.