The cattle arrive
By Jane Hulton-Harrop
And then the cattle arrived…
Then we found that the articulated lorry had taken a wrong turn at the last junction, so whilst we could see orange lights across the fields, they were not coming our way.
One of our party set off to help and finally, we were able to back the tail gate into the gateway and let the animals into our ‘entry paddock’ after their long journey from Scotland.
We needn’t have worried, they looked calm and settled, tucking into the fresh grass.
The cattle seemed quiet and content so we were too.
Our planned paddock grazing continued with Lizzie collecting data at every change in grazing.
It all was going well and then the -5C hit us rather unexpectedly.
The biggest problem in any paddock had been the provision of water. Now, suddenly, everything was frozen. Tanks, feedpipes…what were we to do?
Detailed grazing plans needed to be put on hold whilst we devised a plan to T into a known unfrozen pipe to which we could attach a drag trough. The cattle were moved to a field we had thought we might ‘save’ for calving but needs must and actually, calving was a long way off.
The cattle were moved to our Pollardine hay field where water through a drag trough had been made available and remained available thanks to an enforced overflow; running water doesn’t freeze. They grazed here quite happily until the thaw allowed the resumption of our grazing plan.
From now on we resolved to keep better in touch with the weather predictions. It didn’t turn out to be quite that simple but the provision of water, as ever, was our main concern.
However, a more serious problem suddenly needed our urgent attention. A cow seen down and on her side at 8.30 one morning, lead to an urgent call to the vet. She was treated for magnesium deficiency, as was expected, though a rather strange time of year for this problem to occur. A busy day caring for a poorly cow ensued.
Albeit in the dark, we managed somehow to sit up the 700kg body, wedge her to a sitting position, give her blanket cover and electric fence her away from harm from others. She had hay, water and shelter. All we could do now was hope throughout a sleepless night.
Before light we made our way towards her pretty frightened about what we might see in the headlights of the bike. We saw her standing. And she moved towards us with our water and nuts. What a moment that was. She was up and okay. After a few tears, it was time for a cup of tea!
Once it was light, we walked her across the next field into our building where she could recover gently in peace with lots of hay, straw, nuts and glucose water.