The heifers that live at Stott Hall are already in and with a calm dry spell of weather, the decision was made to get the rest back. It’s never straightforward and causes Paul many sleepless nights and endless pacing.
The planning of this seemingly straightforward task is actually more akin to a full-scale military operation involving countless personnel, vehicles and large amounts of damage limitation.
Multiple gates need to be closed, some tied open and the odd innocent dog walker will usually be screamed at to “get out of the way”!
The cows are spread out over a large area, rough sloping bankings that are densely covered in gorse, holly and brambles, giving way to low-lying meadows before a steep climb up through the trees. Hopefully, with lots of luck on our side, they head towards the penning area.
The route, of course, has countless obstacles along the way, large boggy patches, impenetrable undergrowth and a fair amount of dodgy fencing.
Despite several years of walking this same route, it rarely goes to plan. Our pleas of “easy girls, nice and steady” are hopelessly ignored as they hit the meadows in the bottom.
Huddled tightly together, heads down they gather pace, like a herd of buffalo thundering across the dusty plains, flattening anything that gets in their way.
No amount of planning is ever enough though and that was the case this week, the cows chose their own unique route which involved flattening of fences, submergence in a deep bog and heading at great speed in the wrong direction.
Paul radiated rage as he stormed after them, his stick flailing wildly in the air, expletives flowing.
We all followed along, well hardened to his barked orders and near hysteria. After what seemed like an eternity of chasing up and down hillsides, being scratched head to toe by brambles and losing a welly in one of the many bogs, we finally got them going.
The last slog up the hillside is always the killer. The cows have usually slackened their pace, but are quick to take advantage of us falling behind, gasping for breath. Bucking Brown, a seasoned troublemaker, made a mad dash for a break in the trees, bellowing at the others to follow.
My heart sunk as I witnessed her change of direction, a mixture of blind rage and disbelief on Paul’s face. Thankfully, Casey was quick to block her getaway with the quad bike and after a few more shouts and hollers, they were through the last gate which was promptly slammed shut behind them.
Ten minutes later, they were all in the loading pen and the first of the large trailers was in place, ready to take them home. The puce face and bulging eyes of my husband was replaced with relief and light-hearted banter as we all breathed a sigh of relief.