A phobia for cattle, a goose sized hole and scratching posts...
I’ve been away camping for bank holiday weekend to Scotland. As I’m bringing my equipment back to the house and the chickens come rushing around the corner to greet me, or see if I have any food (more likely). If you have ever watched Jurassic park then the way a chicken runs will be horribly familiar to you. They truly are tiny Velociraptors. I’m just glad they aren’t bigger; I can’t get the image out of my head now. My green wellies are somewhat stained, especially since creosoting the troughs the other week. The chickens seem to think that there may be some food on there, if I stand still they will come and stand on my boots and peck at specks on them. Not food chickens, sorry, but points for trying.
At Willowford there is a problem with the phone line. A BT guy has been dispatched to investigate and soon discovers the problem is cows, which is somewhat inevitable. The pole on the edge of one of the fields has a join in the plastic that covers wire at about cow head height. Obviously this is the perfect thing to nibble at, of more likely lick. The cows have damaged the wire at the join. No problem for out intrepid BT man who fixes it up no problem, except it turns out he has something of a phobia. For cattle. He had to hide in his van until they moved. Being a quite sympathetic sort I find this utterly hilarious but do reassure him that he has nothing to fear from the licky Ayrshires, except perhaps a sound licking. He was a little reassured but mentioned how happy he was that he didn’t have a red uniform... unfortunately I had to point out an interesting fact I had recently learnt that cattle, along with most mammals, are dichromatic seeing bluish-purple and yellowy-green best. ‘Like my yellow high-Vis vest?’ ‘Almost certainly.’ I’m not helping this poor guy get over his fear am I?
There is a hole in the fence that is just goose sized. They think we haven’t noticed them slipping through the gap and wandering off in the general direction of the pond in the water meadow. A strategic bit of wood and several nails puts paid to that and later I see one of the escapees looking sadly at the lack of gap in the hedge. He’ll be looking for another way out no doubt.
The importance of a good scratching post is not to be underestimated. When you are a cow there are a few places a well placed hoof or tongue cannot reach. Behind the ears, bottom of the neck, shoulder blades. Any trees and fences in the fields are in for a tough time as several hundred kilos of cow rubbing them will kill but the hardiest. There are a couple of stumpy gnarled trees in the water meadows and Jeremiah was giving them hell when I went down to see them today. Jeremiah is not small; this tree will have a short life I think. Fences and gates are damaged this way too and one of our gate posts has been almost wrenched out of the ground. As long as they don’t learn that this would be the easiest way to escape we will be okay. The fences and gates are mostly a learnt barrier, they wouldn’t stop a cow who was determined if she knew she could get out.