Patrolling the herd like anxious parents at a rave

Mrs Downs Diary
Mrs Downs Diary

Mobility remains my big issue at the moment with helping John around the farm. Today I am going for an MRI scan which hopefully will reveal what I have done to make anything other than lying flat on my back, bearable.

Always secretly thought people were putting it on a bit with pain issues. No longer. I am now a fully paid-up member of the pill popping society, although occasionally getting confused about what I have taken and when.

Once I get onto my feet and stand and recover from the shock of it all, I do manage to stagger around to see what is happening outside, and to make sure John is receiving some sustenance. Friends have been wonderful helping with shopping and cakes and buns for John.

Think he considers he is being better looked after than when I am well. Actually, he is. They are all better bakers than me.

In the fields it’s been an exciting week as four new calves have been born. Our calving pattern has been rendered somewhat topsy turvy by historical issues. Going back to 2012 when we had a very dry summer and poor quality grazing, subsequently hay and silage for winter fodder were also below standard nutritionally. The cows “milked off their backs.” They ended the summer lean and even after we weaned the calves, did not come back into season when expected, so our calving pattern was thrown out of kilter.

When you take into account the times when we also take the bull out towards the end of the summer so that he does not have a chance to mate with his own adolescent daughters, incestuous intercourse in other words, cows that might have been in season and legitimately accessible to him, weren’t. Sexual unions are so complicated at times.

2013 saw grazing and fodder issues reverting to normal, but it also meant that we ended last year and started this year with some cows in season out of our normal calving pattern. The result. Four babies in late summer/ early autumn, who will be spending the winter with their mums in the foldyard, but will be precociously mature ( they are all heifers) at a time when Dad will still be in with the herd next spring. I repeat, sex is never simple. We shall be patrolling the herd like anxious parents at a teenage rave, making sure that nothing untoward happens.

Meanwhile, my lack of zealous attention to ensuring that the hens and chicks are safely shut in at night has meant that more have gone missing. With the chief culprit now a black and white cat. A sad little pile of bones and feathers, presumably these caught in the cat’s throat and not ingested, have indicated where the victims were taken for that last supper. I have emailed around the village to see if anyone owns a cat of that description and fortunately, no one does. I say fortunately because this will not be a situation with a happy ending... for the cat.