It was a pleasantly warm, sunny and still evening down in Falling Sands Nature Area yesterday. I talked to fishermen on the river, asking what they had caught, what they had seen, and what they thought would improve fishing on the river. They commented on the pleasantness of the evening and were eager to talk. It was nice for me, too, as I rarely see people when roaming Wilden Marsh, but people regulary shout to me over the river.
I checked the drinking water trough and counted the cattle; one was missing. I counted again, and again. Rose’s calf, Ellen, was missing. Rose was chomping away on a stand of comfrey and didn’t look at all worried. I expected to find Ellen lying in the tall vegetation close to her mum, but I didn’t find her. I searched up, down and around, but there was no sign of her. The time was just past 9pm. Ellen is the calf that has been trying to summon sufficient courage to butt me; she is very inquisitive and gets to those places other cows can not.
I can usually get a sense of something being wrong through the herd’s behaviour, but the cattle seemed content and unconcerned. I had visions of the calf wandering the adjoining industrial estate, or making her way north along the riverbank towards the Watermill pub. She might have climbed the steep bank onto the Falling Sands Viaduct and was making her way along the railway line towards Kidderminster or Bewdley. For all I knew, she might have been stolen. I quickly set about looking harder for a boundary fence breach or some other evidence pointing to where she might be, before reporting her disappearance. Ellen has escaped at least twice in her short life: once into the Lagoon Field, and again by crawling under a barbed wire stock fence; I found her wandering along Hoo Brook – she was much smaller then.
Whilst searching for escape routes at the viaduct, I heard a low, deep and sustained grumbling moan from one of the Galloways. I suspected straight away that the beltie had found Ellen, so I slogged back through thick comfrey towards the herd.
Wayne and Tulip stared into vegetation, Wayne was still moaning. I looked in the direction they were staring, but saw nothing. Pushing through the vegetation, I found Ellen standing at the bottom of a hole with her hoof stuck in a rotting wooden pallet. The pallet covered a number of thick plastic sacks. I freed Ellen, but didn’t investigate the plastic sacks; for all I knew they might have contained body parts. I did, though, pass on a request for the pallet and sacks to be removed.
I have a strong feeling that Ellen might grow into a troublesome cow.