I shut the cattle in Hoo Brook Pasture for four days last week; they weren’t at all happy about it. They picked at the vegetation, and the track they made through the pasture was getting deeper by the day. The herd was spending too much time walking to and from the gate and not doing what I had put them there to do, which wastes my time and effort as well as theirs. Also, a lack of grazing effort and too much exercise causes the cattle to lose weight too quickly, affecting their ability to survive the winter without extra fodder. The herd shouted at me from the gate whenever I approached them, and bellowed when I walked away. So Friday of last week I opened the corridor gates and allowed them to roam freely around the Hoo Brook and the Riverside pastures. Since then the cattle have been happy little grazers.
I spent a couple of hours in amongst the herd this afternoon, watching them graze Hoo Brook pasture. They are now aggressively and progressively stripping the pasture vegetation, including any green nettle and willow leaves they are able to reach, and are quickly reducing the bulk and height of a large number of rushes growing here. Bramble bushes are being stripping and broken up too. They are trampling fallen leaves into the soil, breaking up fallen branches, and generally getting Hoo Brook Pasture ready for the next growing season. I will be happy if the cattle completely clear Hoo Brook Pasture before the end of the year and give it a good old trampling; this is our newest pasture in need of intensive cattle treatment. The Wilden Marshers cut much of the willow scrub growing here last workday, but there is still a fair amount to remove. There is always much to do!