Hoo Brook Pasture

I spent today working in Hoo Brook Pasture, with the marsh cattle. I cut up fallen trees and the cattle busied themselves trimming vegetation.

It was a bleak day, without sunshine. A grazier popped his head over the fence to check on the cattle, but I don’t think he saw me. I thought we had 10 cattle on the marsh. but I counted 9 today; either I previously miscounted, one has been taken off marsh, or it has decided to strike out on its own. I will count them again tomorrow.

The cattle are extremely curious and are always very interested in what I’m doing around them. As I chopped and stacked willow into brash and log piles today, they encircle me and munched away at the willow catkins and generally got in my way. The clothes I peeled off as a result of axe generated excess body heat, and my binoculars and cameras, had to be hung well out of the cattle’s reach. Since the cattle are used to me, they make little attempt to get out of my way and hold onto the willow branches as I try to stack them. I shout at them in protest,  but they don’t take any notice. The two Belted Galloway’s stand their ground and look directly into my eyes as if to say, ‘Move any closed, mate, and you might be sorry!’ I have to say that I rarely press them. Sometimes the cattle head-butt each other,  which can be a bit disconcerting; the sound of their heads crunching together is excruciating to me, and I often see the horn used to emphasise a point. However, I really like the cattle and they are essential to the health of the marsh.

This evening I took Spike out for his nightly walk through Hoo Wood, and as usual he bounded ahead along the path. I heard him running back and into my torch beam came a large badger with Spike on his tail. Every time this happens it puts the wind up me, and I always feel like screaming! A large powerful badger hurtling towards a person is bound to cause alarm. Well, it did with me this evening. There is just enough room for one person on this section of track, so the only way a badger can pass is if the person lifts a leg. Fortunately, the badger did an abrupt right turn and escaped up the bank. I called Spike off.

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