After 6 months of almost continuous rain whilst building the Nap, we now find ourselves in drought. What have we done to Mother Earth? The fields are brown and scratchy. The borehole is stuttering, the aquifers drying.
It's great for our guests up at the Nap, but our resident cows are not happy. General unrest in the ranks. Boredom, flies and swishing tails.
This manifested itself late in July. Whilst planning some wild swimming on the Taw, Milo and I went up to fill the water tanks up at Stoneridge only to find only 12 cows. Hmm. 12. There should be 24!!! We wandered round the field, and could hear echos of mooing in the deep woods near by. Further investigation and there was one of the matriarchs (Big Black), standing on the bank beside the trampled hedge, looking thoroughly concerned but utterly unfazed by her and her friends destruction. But where were the other 11?
We stumbled through the wood and finally found our neighbour gaily chainsawing away. He told us what a lovely herd we had as they past him in the woods. Luckily he had shut the gates on to the main road. 50 minutes later, using cowpats as our method of tracking, we found them in a field, lying down, basking in the sun. We shut the gates, left them there and went swimming in the river. It was a wonderful, cooling off in the deep strata like fissures that streaked across the river bed. The dogs leapt for sticks and swam beside us, a kingfisher buzzed by, but apart from that we had the river and our thoughts to ourselves.
Later on we moved Herd11 into the cattle shed with a stern ticking off.
Next day, endless mooing and only 11 cows in the field. 1 hour later, I find Big Black had taken the same journey though the woods, past the farm up into the fields above looking for her baby. Total consternation. She had spent the whole night calling for her calf and in the end, jumped the fence, pushed her way back through the woods, through 5 fields only to find her way blocked near where I had put her calf and the other rogues the night before.
I opened the gate and Big Black and I wandered down the road together, her udder shaking from side to side, until at last she was back with her calf in the shed. Nothing was going to stop that mum finding her baby. She's a legend that cow. I almost shed a tear. All is forgiven!