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The Crush, the Pond and the Hothouse

Phase 1 of Operation Crush Training is now complete.

The hard standing is down, the fence and gate erected and the cattle crush in place. Next, it’s time for the girls to come through, lured as usual with their favourite thing – food. I close the gate, leaving them behind it and a pile of hay in the new corral. The only thing which separates them from their hearts desire is the crush. After some nervous sniffing they gingerly step onto the boards. It all goes very well and I’m relieved. Now they are like old hands at coming in and out of the crush.

Next phase…trapping them inside it… gulp. I will keep you posted.

Traditional English Hereford Heifers www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com d

The Slow Approach

Traditional English Hereford & Cattle Crush www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Mary Rose keenest (on hay)

Traditional English Hereford & Cattle Crush www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Traditional English Hereford & Cattle Crush www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Next is Belita (surprisingly)

Traditional English Hereford & Cattle Crush www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Come on Lucy

Traditional English Hereford & Cattle Crush www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

That’s it good girl

Traditional English Hereford & www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Very happy

And just to show you how much they really like hay…

Traditional Eglish Herefords www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Tucking into T’s hay which he is transporting home

Traditional English Hereford www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Yes, caught you!

Phase 1 of Pond Rehabilitation is now complete.

We had the pond dug out with a digger a few years ago. It doesn’t have a liner but fluctuates with the water table. While I was moaning about the relentless rain here I happened to go on Twitter (yes, I’m doing that) and found out that yesterday it was World Water Day so I tried to think of all the people and places in the world who have no access to clean water and are suffering terrible drought. It did help.

I think I mentioned that digging the pond had somewhat cured our damp problem in the house. Somewhat…. Our plan is to attract as much wildlife as possible and the pond really helps with this. The birds love to bathe and drink and there are hundreds of creatures in there. Periodically it does need a clear out and I did this a couple of weeks ago. My, that weed is HEAVY. There were a few casualties but I’m afraid that is the price which has to be paid – but the starlings and the blackbirds had themselves a good feed.

Natural Pond www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

The pond when it was first dug – very brave very pale man

Wildlife Pond www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comPond Weed Clearing www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Wildlife Pond in Rain www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

The pond on World Water Day 22 March 2013

Starlings in Winter www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Not sure when the starlings will fly back – it’s pretty cold in Russia and Northern Europe right now

Phase 1 of Getting Excited about Spring is now complete.

Despite the still wintry weather there is a gleam in the eye of springs’ arrival. The equinox has passed and the buds are waking and breaking. Last week on a bitter day I went with my mother and stepfather to the RHS garden at Wisley. To be honest the majority of our time was spent in one of the cafés and the gift shop where they have ACRES of lovely enticing books on horticulture, design, nature and landscape.

I bought a book called Edgelands written by two poets, Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts which I’m really looking forward to – it forms, according to the back cover

a critique of what we value as wild, and allows our allotments, railways, motorways, wasteland and water a presence in the world, and a strange beauty all of their own

If you want to read about a walk in the edgelands Gerry has done one here called ‘Along the Garston Shore’ which I think is great – and tells you a bit more about the book and when the phrase was first coined.

Anyway, we also went to the warm glass houses where the orchids and other amazing flowers and cacti were an uplifting treat.

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It only needs the jet stream to shift a little and some of that spring warmth to awaken the beast!

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40 Comments Post a comment
  1. I like the photos of your cows taking the hay off the truck.

    March 23, 2013
  2. Gue' #

    Looking just like kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar, the girls steal hay from the trailer!

    Gosh, that certainly was a mound of weeds you pulled from the pond. You have a cute pool boy! lol

    The pics from the hothouse are amazing. Just beautiful.

    March 24, 2013
    • It was quite satisfying getting the pond cleared – but I ended up having to cut it in half as it came in such a huge mat!

      Even when they’re stealing they’re cute…just like the pool boy 😉

      I never used to be that bothered by cacti but all that’s changed now…I’d love to visit them in the wild.

      Thanks Gué (found accent, is that right?) – where does that name hail from?

      March 25, 2013
  3. I felt so happy watching the girls all come through for the hay. What sweet, sweet faces!

    I’m impressed with the pond digging and rehabilitation. What an undertaking! But for a good purpose.

    So many beautiful flowers and plants: it warms me up just looking at them!

    March 24, 2013
    • I’m glad they look as sweet to you as they do to me. Now I know I’m not biased.

      Well, we didn’t dig the pond by hand so it wasn’t so bad really. It’s frogomania soon!

      Thanks Lemony.

      March 25, 2013
  4. Harriet #

    The view outside my window is West Yorkshire covered in thick snow and twitter is full of sheep farmers anxious about ewes and lambs out where drifts are five feet high – it’s otherworldly to see the green of Cornwall and the flowers of Wisley’s glasshouses. I keep looking and looking!

    March 24, 2013
    • It’s all been unfolding on the telly, can’t believe it! Hope you’re keeping warm – and those little lambs.

      Otherworldly describes the Wisley experience exactly – and not only because of the flowers!

      March 25, 2013
  5. A tri post! Here on Serendipity Farm we have been celebrating with wild abandon. It rained! Not once, not twice but 3 times since wednesday’s equinox! I am in heaven 🙂 Brunhilda has been on twice and I have been baking sourdough carrot cakes, cinnamon muffins and vast cauldrens of soup and life is starting to settle into my autumn routine. I got WAY too excited about putting the kettle back onto the stove for the very first time and insisted on taking a photo but after the horrible summer we just had I deserve a bit of bliss :). You will soon be blissfully wrapped in wildflowers and springtime and give us both a couple of months and we will be complaining about wanting spring/and autumn back respectively :). Love Wisleys garden and one day I am going to travel over there and see it with my own eyes. For now I am living vicariously through your lovely photos. Good to hear you had fun with your mum and your step dad even if most of it was in the book shop 😉

    March 24, 2013
    • Vast cauldrens of soup – I know it well. I’m on spicy lentil at the moment…

      Wisley is a great garden – but being the RHS’s biggest and most popular I find it a bit unintimate (if that’s a word!). Good for identifying because EVERYTHING is labelled – if you can sharpen your elbows enough to get in there through the throngs… 😉

      March 25, 2013
      • You just put on a very LOUD American accent and watch the crowds part frowning as you approach. American’s are the new Moses 😉

        March 25, 2013
    • This is England you know, ANYONE with a loud voice will cause a serious amount of tut tutting 😉

      March 26, 2013
      • Particularly challenging for the genteel silvers, the average age and class of Wisley visitors!

        March 26, 2013
      • Do you think that Americans care?! 😉 anything less than screaming at them won’t make an ounce of difference so they just ignore anything other than complete and utter rudeness…that’s what gives them the edge in a crowd and gets the crowdy waves parting and you, too, can take advantage of this benefit 😉 Don’t say I don’t share anything with you 🙂

        March 26, 2013
  6. I want to be in that hothouse, I’ll getting a bit tired of cold houses. Thanks for the info about the
    edgelands, looks interesting.

    March 24, 2013
    • I was trying to work out if it feels colder because we have higher expectations of warmth at this time of year. Last March it was 20 degrees. Weird.

      I need to make more time for reading….I think I’m going to make a timetable, like at school!

      March 25, 2013
  7. SO interesting seeing their training… And just beautiful! Those faces (especially as they come to their hay, heh!). What a lovely process.

    And that flora, just magnificent….

    March 24, 2013
    • Thanks Miss Feygirl. I’m very pleased that it’s going smoothly – frankly I was slightly trepidacious about the whole thing. Today the girls obeyed me by coming into the corral without the lure of hay, just by voice. Wow, that was a first 🙂

      Is it sub tropical where you are?

      March 25, 2013
      • That is IMPRESSIVE!

        I used to work around horses (we still have 2 rescues), and sometimes there would be cows around… And I know their stubborn streak! 🙂

        YES, it’s a sub-tropical climate, for sure, the Everglades / South FLA area…. I can’t seem to escape it! I was raised in the South Pacific, the REAL Tropics!

        March 26, 2013
    • I feel myself reaching for the smelling salts even at the mention of the tropics 😉

      Am going to contact my antivirus people TOMORROW

      March 26, 2013
      • Hahahah! 🙂

        Yep… It was so incredibly MUGGY where I was raised, that when people who were new to the island (it was a military installation) got off the C140, they were simply thrown back. If you haven’t experienced it, it really takes your breath away. Florida has nothin’ on the real tropics!

        March 27, 2013
  8. supernova #

    Nice post cowgirl, glad the girls are OK, they look very happy and content, great stuff.
    Its amazing how much weed comes out of a pond isn’t it and how soon it all grows back? Farm’s looking good, speak soon, James 🙂

    March 24, 2013
    • Thanks James. Yes, come summer it’ll all be back! It was such a thick mat…with lots of frogs and newts crawling out.

      March 25, 2013
  9. It’s good to read your latest bulletin. You’ve been quiet too long, I was beginning to worry, but now I see why. You’ve been busy, busy, busy. I love the slow ballet as the girls approach the crush. I might have to purloin that beautifully framed photo of MR for Frames Of Reference. I wish you warmth and sunshine soon.

    March 24, 2013
  10. Purloin away, please.

    I’ve been getting behind in all blogging ways…both writing and reading. Looking forward to catching up.

    Yes, when is it going to warm up.

    March 25, 2013
  11. Your three girls make me laugh. I love the picture before they enter crush where they’re all grazing practically cheek to cheek.

    March 26, 2013
    • They do like to be together. Though MR and L do bully poor little B a bit. There is butting and ramming come hay time. I keep out of the way til it settles.

      March 26, 2013
  12. Beautiful photos. I especially like the shot of the starlings.
    Any your cows seem healthy and happy. 🙂

    March 26, 2013
    • “And” your cows seem healthy and happy. 🙂

      March 26, 2013
    • Oh thanks Bill. The starlings fly over every day back to the roost on Bodmin Moor, where there are a million+ birds. It’s such a sight when they do their murmurations. I’m sure you get the same thing? But here is a charming and lovely film:

      The cows are healthy – I think, but the main worry is TB, they have their test this summer. Fingers crossed.

      March 26, 2013
  13. I was at an event last year at Edinburgh Book festival where the two poets talked about Edgelands, it’s a fascinating book

    Your pond will be a wonderful resource for local wildlife!

    Lovely photos of the cows!

    March 30, 2013
    • Thanks very much craftygreenpoet. The edinburgh event must have been interesting, I’m looking forward to reading it.

      March 31, 2013
  14. Rhonda Crowe #

    It’s lovely seeing the courageous girls enjoying their hay! They are looking happy and well – wishing you good results on the TB tests.

    The pond looks great! Spring will get here sooner or later. We are having a late one, as well. Daffodils just starting to bloom 🙂

    April 2, 2013
    • Thanks Rhonda,yes it’s fingers crossed for the TB test. Sooo looking forward to spring,March has been the coldestsince 1962. Hope it’s not the same for you!

      April 3, 2013
  15. “Crush” is a new word for me. Is the point of that contraption to first get them used to passing through, and then to enclose them for vaccinations, or whatever? I must say, your system worked like a dream. Of course, as you say, food is a great motivator!

    Some of what you pulled out of that pond looks stringy like a plant/vine that’s called “dodder” here. It’s a struggle to keep waterways and lakes here free of things like water hyacinth – it’s a never ending process.

    My cactus are starting to perk up now that the days are lengthening. I have buds on the one named Godot – because I had to wait so long for his first blooms. 😉 And the spineless cactus looks like it will put one new pad on this year. I need to take the knife to it and do some separating and repotting. It’s so big and heavy now the only way I can move it is to sit down and push the pot with my feet!

    April 4, 2013
  16. Yes that’s right, it’s called a ‘cattle crush’ which actually doesn’t sound very nice does it! I wanted them to be familiar with it before the actual event of the TB test. I guess we’ll worm them and check them for other stuff at the same time.

    Water invasives are such a problem. But we don’t have anything like as big a headache in UK as some places. The stuffI pulled from our pond is a native pond weed, but can’t remember the name. It actually seems to have killed off an agressive non native which we put in by mistake….by making it dark underneath. Hmm …we’ll see come May. I did hear that some conservation organisations are considering dyeing water black to stop photosynthesis…sounds promising.

    Haha that’s a good name for a cactus. There was a plant like that at Kew Gardens – a rare kind of yucca I think, which finally flowered after 15 years. The queue to see it was about a mile long I think!

    April 5, 2013
  17. Great photos!

    April 16, 2013
  18. Have you finished Edgelands? How was it? Lovely blog and beautiful photos!

    April 22, 2013
    • Thanks! Sadly, I haven’t even started it! I’m only one quarter the way through Prairy Erth….

      April 22, 2013

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