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Posts from the ‘Bull’ Category

My Heart Belongs to Mist and Freetown Klondyke

27th October. The storm of St Jude sweeps in from the west, gathering strength and we view it in satellitic swirls moving across the Atlantic. We batten down the hatches and secure anything that is likely to break free. I move the car away from the potential teetering of our tall pole barn which sways disturbingly in a high wind. It’s been raining all day but the worst of the wind is scheduled for the night.

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Later, I stand on the step in the dark, and feel the sharp sprays of rain on my cheek, the wind bouncing around in my ears. I can hear a menacing rumble at the horizon and tree branches are shaking and lashing together. I wonder if the cows are in their shelter and I’m tempted to go over there, but the thought of flying sheets of corrugated iron and tumbling ash branches encourages me to stay put in front of the fire. As it turns out, St Jude is a bit of a damp squib in these parts, a big storm but not a colossal one, and he whirls on through, travelling east, tearing up trees as he goes, in Temple Meads, on Hilly Fields.

The pigs in the pictures above belong to a friend who leases a 200 acre organic biodynamic farm not far from here – they have recently benefited from the Natural England Higher Level Stewardship scheme and grant which has made life a lot easier. Last year I went on a trip to a farm in Somerset to see some South Devon cattle she was interested in buying.

Winter temperatures have arrived despite a lone poppy making a brave stand on the brown roof. Water troughs start their seven month brimming. The land has become squelchy and soggy though the pasture still looks fresh. As the leaves fall different views are revealed.

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We moved the cows back into the Cow Field and there was sadly very little excitement from them…they just got down to their favourite occupation…eating. Which just goes to prove that cows are also stimulated by the new and unexpected in the same way we are. Last time they were far more thrilled by their unfamiliar surroundings. We have started supplementing their diet with some hay which helps them process the wet grass better.

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The time has now come for thinking about putting the the cows into calf. They are just over 2 years old. Regular readers will know that we lost our bull earlier this year so we have been thinking about how they are going to get pregnant. These are their pedigree certificates. I like their names, they are stupidly grand – Lower Eaton Ruby 14th, Lower Eaton Ruby 15th and Lower Eaton Amethyst 5th.

Buying another bull has now been rejected because after reflection it was decided that it would be good to be able to keep any female calves in the herd and we don’t have enough land to keep them separated from a bull. Hence our decision to go down the AI (Artificial Insemination) route. Welcome to the whole new world of The Semen Catalogue

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What about any of the above? I quite liked the look of Freetown Klondyke  …. until I had a long conversation with the extremely knowledgeable P from the Traditional Hereford Society who seemed to be able to recall the names of all the bulls going back to the 1960’s. He put the names of the girls into his computer and the clever software tells him which would be the most suitable donors…as there are only a relatively small number of the breed it is important to expand the bloodlines. Ours come from the Silver family apparently, the biggest.

Then and now.

Rowington Trump Card (1960’s), Gensyns Lionheart (1960’s), Llandinabo Quirk, Llandinabo Mackie

These are the names of the bulls which we should select from. There are others but they are reserved for breed improvement on a commercial scale.

He also advised that the best time for them to calve is in February because on our rich pasture it is difficult to keep them lean enough to calve easily in the growing season. (What, the girls, fat?!) I had heard this before and it is true that they do get extremely rotund on grass – one of the main reasons they are cherished as a beef breed because they require so little input. So we have decided to wait until next May to do the AI.

The other thing he suggested was that we get a young steer who will let us know when they are in season (bulling) as it is not always easy to tell. We have definitely noticed when they are bulling as they moo plaintively and pace up and down next to the fence, the other side being where the Limousin bull resides. But it doesn’t seem to last long at all – a kind of blink and you miss it scenario. You’d hope a steer would be more attuned to what’s going on…

In the meantime the world around us is changing…October2103 134

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I love the softness of the autumn days, misty and strange.

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And this fine fellow of brown, a South Devon bull belonging to L & J

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And this fine fellow, also of brown.

Until the next time.

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Herald Delivered – A Bull Story in a Storm

An exciting moment has arrived for us and our fellow herd investors. Herald, our new bull, is finally delivered to T & N’s place. If you’d like to find out about the beginning of this story you can do so here and here.

It’s Thursday and there is a gale blowing, the first of many storms to come. The wind is roaring, making a constant deep rushing and rumble as it whips through the trees and around structures. By the sound, I know that a whole assortment of things will make be making a bid for freedom and I fret about slates and sheets of corrugated iron flying through the air, just waiting to decapitate the unwary. I have an unsuccessful wrestle with a tarp which has come loose, it slaps me in the face with a sharp wet sting. The deluged land is saturated and more heavy rain is predicted.

Soggy Ground www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

A cunning use of an old carpet

So why this day?

Because it is 60 days since Herald had his TB test and this is the last day that he can be moved, otherwise the process needs to be repeated again. We’re not sure how this time went by, but go by it did. There was a little hiccup with a payment going astray to a random bank account but still, where did that time go?

We climb into the landrover and make our way over to the farm where Herald is staying. The roads are littered with branches and wet leaves. In the farmhouse the farmer finishes his tea and we chat about dogs, farming and his health problems. He apologises for Herald being so mucky as all his stock is now indoors.

First T hitches the trailer on. Then we go to the big barn and the farmer finds Herald and ushers him out. He is very obedient and his expression seems to say Am I bothered?

Hereford Bull Passport www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Heralds Passport

Hitching a trailer www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Herding Cattle www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

He’s a bit mucky…

Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Hereford Bull in Race www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

In the race

He had a bit of a moment in the race when he realised that something unusual was happening but settled down quickly. I missed the bit when he was being loaded as I was holding a gate to prevent him from taking a wrong turn.

Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Apologies for out of focus I was trying to keep up!

Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Herald and some of the new owners

He went straight into the barn and started munching some hay…until…exciting moment!

Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Heralds first whiff of his new cows

Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Let’s do that again

Traditional Hereford Cattle www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Is it love?

It all went off without a hitch, much to our collective relief, and Herald seems really quiet. T has reported that he has been stroking him while eating hay so it all bodes well. His early life was amongst a small herd and the children of the family were quite used to handling him. Infact he appears to be more domesticated than Lucy, Belita or Mary-Rose…but maybe that’s becuse they are teenagers! It is said you must never trust a bull entirely so I will bear this in mind.

Herald – a Bull Story with September Skies

Hello, well, some of you know that we’re buying a half share in a bull, Herald   (if not, you can read about it here if you’d like). The other day I went to visit him in person for the first time with fellow bull purchasing friend T. Before we commit 100% he has to have blood tests for both TB and BVD (Bovine Virus Diarrhea) – it sounds horrible and best to test…a Hereford farmer in Wiltshire alerted us to this particular bovine problem. Which made me think that maybe we should have had ours tested too. Must get that fencing sorted…

The farm Herald is currently lodging at is on the hills above the Camel Estuary.

Camel Estuary Cornwall www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

We approached him in the field, accompanied by the farmer and I took some pictures…

Traditional Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Herald, note table like back

Traditional Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com
Herald

He was pretty unconcerned by our presence until T went a little too close and he tossed his head in an irritated way. We backed off and he continued with his munching.

I’m thinking how to convert my trepidation into respect, which is how the farmer describes their attitude towards him and implies some sort of control over your gut feelings. Hmm.

Herald was originally halter trained though he hasn’t been handled in this way for two years. His owner and the farmer think he’ll remember no problem. T has volunteered to be the leader in this enterprise – erm, shall we say there wasn’t a queue…

T’s friend J the rope man http://www.stairropes.com. has made him a halter from rope, modelled here by a door

Cow Halter www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Rather than think too much about the Herald situation, I concentrate on looking at the sky and the clouds…

Sky over Cornwall www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Sky over Cornwall www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Sky over Cornwall www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comSky over Cornwall www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comSky over Cornwall www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comAnd the flowers…

PS thinking cowgirl is going offranch for about a week …so hasta luego for now (as they might say in a spaghetti western)

Dahlias in a box www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Dahlias by special request

Bull

ListHaving reached number ten, I was thinking that it might have been a mistake to number the posts on this blog. As my friend T pointed out, by the time it gets into the 100’s it might be a bit weird – and tedious. Sorry, I think it’s probably my obsession with lists. I have a day list, and then then there’s the Long List….

it seemed like a good idea at the time

Which is, I hope, not what I am going to say after having just purchased a half share in a BULL

Traditional English Hereford Bull www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Herald when he was young – much bigger now. That cow seems to like him.

More like this….

It all became a bit of a dilemma. Being a fairly rare breed there are not a huge amount of herds around. The bulls seem to be everywhere around the country apart from the south west. A fact I probably should have taken into consideration more before going ahead with the Traditional English Hereford. But I was so taken with them, their lovely colour and sweet temperaments. Usually, the idea is to borrow or rent a bull to get your cows in calf and then send him back whence he came. However, as they are so far away the costs of transportation are enormous. Of course there is always AI (Artificial Insemination) but I have gone off this idea.

Pedigree Hereford Certificate www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Heralds pedigree certificate. He comes fro the Llandinabo line which is good apparently.

T & N are in the same boat, so when the opportunity arose to buy Herald from someone who is moving to the Outer Hebrides we had a discussion and decided to go for it. We will own half each and he will divide his time between our two little herds. Though he may eventually end up spending more time here as T & N have a public footpath and yurts.

He ‘throws’ lots of male calves – which is good for beef production. I wonder when I can officially say I’m farming. Steak anyone? Excited!. Terrified.

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