Thought Number 5 Which Kind of Cow
The heifers are enjoying the shelter and protection of the outgrown hedge down the centre of the field this morning. Once upon a time it was two fields but slowly the boundary has blurred, with intermittent gaps between overgrown branches of Hawthorn which form a shady bower where they take refuge from biting flies and the heat of the sun. They no longer mind me so much and only get up from their lying positions when I get very close. They are slowly becoming curious. I chose this old breed (Traditional English Hereford) www.traditionalherefords.net for their rarity, but mainly for their docility.
Cattle are pretty good grazers. They are selective, tugging with their tongues, seeking out the rough and the smooth and they leave some flowers and grasses to set seed rather than doing a complete hoover job like sheep and goats. And the result? More diversity in the plant communities of a pasture. The National Trust www.nationaltrust.org.uk are quite keen on these kind of traditional breeds for the management of the land too, because they aren’t too fussy about being out in all weathers and eat a variety of vegetation.
It’s misty and sunny all at the same time, violet and milky blue, and a perfect rainbow begins to materialise, one foot hovering in the river below, the other somewhere I can’t see. Squinting in the sun with raindrops falling on my hood I set about cutting nettles and hogweed at the foot of the hedgerow before they set seed. The cows approach, hoping that I have a treat for them, and I admire their wide white faces and long lashes. 275’s horns have definitely grown. 274 sniffs my back and tries to eat the polypropylene sack I’m using for collecting the seed heads.