Our winter months are filled with endless days on the road, hauling sheep from one field to another.
The electric fencing goes up, comes down and so on. Our heifer calves have been weaned and moved to their housing for the next few months before they’re turned out to grass in the spring. The foals have finally been weaned and are indoors along with some other youngsters.
The cows were pregnancy tested at the start of the week and thankfully, the results were all good. Following our misfortunes last summer when our lovely old stock bull, Herbie, became ill, only a matter of weeks after being turned out with his girls, we weren’t looking forward to the results. A young bull was quickly purchased, but disaster struck him too.
Eventually an old bull from right in the village of Farnley Tyas, where our cows’ summer grazing is, was acquired and he thankfully remained injury free. Between the three of them, all cows were covered and the first calves should start arriving early spring.
The cows all passed through the cattle crush without any drama and as each one was scanned, Paul and I recalled their previous calves. As an old Blue-Grey came into the crush I took a step back. One bad experience with Blue-Greys has made me wary of the breed.
Many years ago, we’d been helping Paul’s uncle at his farm near Holmfirth. He had quite a few Blue-Greys and he needed an extra pair of hands with a first-time mum. The calf had arrived without problems but the cow was reluctant to let her calf suck. We’d penned her up and managed to get a rope halter on. The rest of the herd was in an adjacent building that could be accessed through an open doorway at the far end.
After ejecting both Paul and Casey from the pen and flatly refusing to let her calf suck, she decided enough was enough. She raised her head high into the air and issued a deep, gutteral bellow. It wasn’t a friendly sound, quite the opposite. There was something quite chilling about the noise she emitted.
Within seconds her friends appeared in the doorway, responding with the same deafening call. The proceeding minutes were all but a blur as the herd descended on us, heads down, eyes bulging with rage.
They singled us out, one by one, and we did what any sane person would. We scattered. The large pile of straw bales stacked in the corner provided my escape route to safety. Being pre John-William era, I was pretty agile and nifty and ascended those hestons in a manner that Joss Naylor would have been proud of. Casey was half way up a girder, Paul vanished into thin air.
Like a pride of lionesses, those Blue-Greys stalked us, pacing up and down, eyeing us angrily. We all escaped, unscathed but needless to say, it’s left me more than wary of those woolly-eared beasts. We only have one, perfectly placid and amenable. That is until she has a calf by her side!