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Mary’s Thick Skin

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the cows’ arrival, they have been here a whole year.  We have really enjoyed getting to know them and the gentle rhythm they bring to the days. At the end of last month it was TB testing time. A positive result inevitably ends in slaughter so I was not looking forward to it at all. This area is quite high risk for TB and most farmers build in a certain amount of loss into their herds.  I’m not sure this is possible with only three! Maybe this is why my friend L counselled that I shouldn’t get too attached. Fat chance.

Anyway I won’t spin this out, they all passed. Hurrah.

However, there was a nervous moment when the vet kept Mary-Rose in the crush for longer and had to check her several times. But, she concluded, it was because Mary’s skin was thicker anyway. Funnily enough even though this was a bit of a surprise, it seemed to fit. She has always looked heavier and clumpier than the dainty Belita or the handsome Lucy. As with people, so with cows.

Traditional English Herefords

The look of alarm as they become aware of what’s coming.

Traditonal English Hereford in Cattle Crush

Friend T helps with the crush. No you can’t turn around in that…

JulyA2013 014

The vet doing the business and the vets intern who may be a vet one day. This also gives you an idea of how small the breed is. They are nearly two and not quite full grown but even so…


Haymaking next…

26 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh, I’m so relieved for you! My heart was in my throat for the moments until I read your good results.

    July 21, 2013
    • Thanks Tricia, my heart was in my mouth too when she started checking Mary and looking concerned!

      July 22, 2013
  2. Good results! Happy for you, sunshine love from Canada x

    July 21, 2013
    • I never knew it was going to be quite as stressful as this! Bet you’ve heard about our heatwave non? At least the sea will be warm by the time you get back 😉

      July 22, 2013
  3. Rhonda Crowe #

    Splendid news!!! I wasn’t aware the testing had been completed but was expecting to hear something soon. Please give them a congratulatory pat from me – especially Mary- in middle age I am experiencing the heavier and clumpier look so I know how she feels 🙂 Good luck with haying – it seems we were always trying to outrun a thunderstorm while getting the hay bales to the barn. We had the small rectangular bales that were stored in the hayloft. Do you do the large hay rolls or the small bales?

    July 21, 2013
    • Haha I know that feeling too…it’s a constant struggle with everything going south 😉

      Last year was like that – we only had one break of good weather in August and because we don’t have our own machinery we were waiting on others…very stressful! We just managed to get the last bale in before the heavens opened. i wrote about it on the blog. But this year we haven’t had rain for four weeks and we’re in the middle of a heatwave so it’s been much easier.

      Most big farms have the big round bales, they also do haylage which is much greener. But there are a few smallholders who still have the machinery for doing small bales and we have those..they are much easier to handle.

      Thanks for the comment, much appreciated 🙂

      July 22, 2013
      • Rhonda Crowe #

        I have been catching up on your past blogs but haven’t read the one about last year’s haying yet…I love catching up on rainy days when I can relax and get wrapped up in your stories about living and farming in England! If all goes as planned, I am hoping to visit again next year…

        July 27, 2013
      • Blimey Rhonda I’m honoured! Where abouts do you go when you visit or are you trying to encompass the whole of the UK? Bit like one state for you… 😉

        August 7, 2013
  4. Gue' #

    After what happened to poor Harald testing positive for Johne’s, I can imagine you were anxious about how the TB tests would come out. Especially if your area is high risk.

    I’m glad the girls got a clean bill of health, in that regards.

    I also got a clean bill of health with my TB test this spring, though they didn’t have to put me in a crush to do it! lol

    (I work in the health care field, though on the clerical side. Still, my employer requires yearly TB testing and flu shots for everyone. No exceptions. As long as they pay for it, I don’t care.)

    July 21, 2013
    • Really?! That’s very interesting…and made me lol too 🙂 Is TB on the rise then? I have heard that the number of cases has also increased here in the UK – sadly to do with overcrowding and poor living conditions for some people.

      July 22, 2013
  5. Beautiful cows 🙂 glad they all passed with a clean bill of health.

    July 21, 2013
  6. I remember cows. The ones that I remember were a LOT bigger than your gorgeous girls but I was 9, living on 100 acres out in the sticks and the cows were legion. I love reading about the girls and have missed seeing them around the blogosphere. Glad they all passed and I feel a kinship with Mary-Rose, I also have a new excuse “I’m NOT fat…I just have thick skin!” ;).

    July 21, 2013
    • I think we’re all feeling kinship with Mary these days 😉

      Yes sometimes I look at the size of other cows and can’t believe how HUGE they are!

      July 22, 2013
      • I like the idea of small cows, more compact and less of them to push things over when they get bolshie 😉

        July 22, 2013
  7. Congratulations to you and the cows. Great news and pictures 🙂

    July 21, 2013
  8. Oh, I’m so glad they passed! I’d been wondering if it wasn’t about time for the testing, but didn’t want to say anything, just in case – well, you know.

    It is rather amazing to see how small they are. Seeing them next to people helps to give that sense of proportion. I’d been imagining them as about the size of our Angus or Herefords, but they are definitely smaller. Just as handsome, though!

    I hope your haying goes well. Have the rains stopped for you? Some of my farming friends here have just had terrible times with the hay – wet in the fields, a fire risk in the barn and so on. Wishing you all the best with that part of the business.

    And give the girls a pat for me!

    July 22, 2013
    • I shall Shoreacres, I shall! Thanks very much..

      I think they might have been originally bred to fit on the decks of ships when we exported cattle to Argentina (possibly in 1700’s), so their legs just got shorter and shorter. At one point the breed was in dire trouble but someone had the forethought to save semen from the bulls. So if we do AI we may have calves sired by a 1960’s bull! It’s in much better shape these days and the gene pool is expanding. In fact, the Argentians are apparently importing semen as they really value the qualities…incredibly hardy, foragers, really good mothers and they are the best cattle for converting grass to beef and need no extra feed (apart from hay).

      We’ve had no rain for four weeks. Absolutely unheard of! And temperatures 30-33 degrees. We’ve done 2 fields already (well, when I say ‘we’ve done’ it means a neighbour with his tractor! Though there has been plenty of heaving) We’ve still got one meadow to go – just waiting for the flowers to seed – it was a slow start because of the cold spring. I feel for your farming’s such an essential part of the farming economy 😦

      July 22, 2013
  9. Happy to hear it was good new all around! Thick skin can be a good thing… :))))

    July 22, 2013
    • Indeed it can! All good for another year, phew. Thanks for the comment 🙂

      July 22, 2013
  10. supernova1c #

    Hi Cowgirl, really pleased that the three girls passed the TB test, a big relief! Congrats to all! 😉

    July 24, 2013
  11. Congratulations on your first year and passing the test! Beautiful beasts and it was surprising to see from your photos how small (petite, even) they are 🙂

    July 26, 2013
    • I know, they look positively miniscule! I keep thinking they’ll grow a bit more… 🙂

      July 26, 2013
  12. I think they’re beautiful. And, I love the look of the shorter legs. They’re probably sturdier than the long, spindly legs. Our longhorns have regular length legs, I think. I haven’t seen them since I posted about them. Cattle here don’t have TB, I think. At least, I haven’t heard about it. The old circus elephants have TB though. And they don’t respond to treatment as well as humans do. I follow which is the website for the elephant “retirement” home in Hohenwald, Tennessee. My favorite old elephant is Shirley. You may have seen the TB documentary about the reunion between Shirley and Jenny.
    If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. I sponsor Shirley who is the oldest elephant in the sanctuary. I was happy to read that the girls passed their TB test. Isn’t there a vaccine for bovine TB?

    August 5, 2013

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