The bovine Tb test that we had been required to do following a positive reactor on a neighbouring farm had delayed their return to the summer grazing at Farnley Tyas by several weeks.
We took them in batches, the ones with oldest calves first. It was the usual cautious exit from the big trailer followed by a mad, tails up dash across the field. Somewhat bewildered by their new-found freedom, the calves followed suit and within no time at all they’d all vanished into the next field beyond a belt of hawthorn trees.
It’s always a nerve-wracking experience, releasing them after a long winter indoors. Sometimes no amount of fencing stops them if they’re that way out, but fortunately ours have a large and varied area to roam and so far not felt the need to escape.
I stayed with them for quite some time watching them grab great mouthfuls of fresh green grass whilst intermittently leaping and kicking out with joy. Some cows and a bull had appeared in a field opposite and I was concerned about the raucous bellowing coming from the bull that was with them.
He paced up and down the boundary of his field, sniffing the air, barging into the cows and shouting to ours. It’s certainly not an ideal scenario having another herd next door.
However, it looks like we’re going to have neighbours this summer. After several hours of checking round the sheep in and around the village I headed back to see if the cows had settled down. They were quietly grazing, oblivious to the commotion coming from the other side of the road.
I drove home feeling less anxious as all was well. Alas things were not well as in a matter of hours, we had a phone call to say we had what appeared to be a dead cow. In utter disbelief Paul and I headed back to Farnley, desperately trying to understand how this could have happened.
By the time we got there, we were greeted by a significantly improved situation. Despite being stuck on her back, legs in the air and blown up like a balloon, the friend that had spotted her from a distance and presumed the worst had managed to roll her over and get her sat up.
How she’d got herself in such a predicament is a mystery, but thankfully before we headed home she was back on her feet, walking round and back to her normal size. Luck was certainly on her side when she was seen as her story would have been a very different one in only a matter of hours.
She was the first calf we had to buy from a neighbour to foster onto one of our cows after she lost her own. The cow never fully warmed to her, but she was a feisty little calf that pinched milk from the other cows and thrived despite her adopted mother’s indifference.
She has grown into a very easy cow, never giving us cause to “watch our backs” around her, never bullies or barges. It would have been terribly upsetting to lose her in such a way.