Controlling The Herd
The Rhombus and Orchid Fields are very wet mid marsh mires with concealed drainage ditches, and a lot of scrub vegetation growing unchecked throughout. The cattle feel insecure in these fields; I think they are concerned about getting stuck in the glutinous mud. When the marsh cattle are uncomfortable, they moan, groan and are not slow in letting me know they are unhappy. I prefer a happy herd, and like to do what I can to help them get the grazing done with minimal stress.
I very much want the Rhombus and Orchid Fields thoroughly grazed this winter. The herd part-grazed the Rhombus Field in September of last year, when it’s vegetation was a couple of feet higher than the field gate. I opened the gate against thick vegetation, enough for a cow to slip through, to allow the cattle eat their way in; once in, I closed the gate.
Twice this year the Rhombus Field was grazed: a week early in the year and four days in September, both times cattle wouldn’t settle. I moved them into the mid marsh Flooded Wood Pasture early morning on 16th October. The Rhombus and Orchid Fields are directly south of the Flooded Wood Pasture. Next morning (17th), I opened the Rhombus Field gate hoping the herd would go through of their own accord; when I checked the next day (18th), they hadn’t.
First thing on the morning of 19th October I walked to the middle of the Rhombus Field, and called the herd. Eventually it turned up, assembled outside the gate, and stood stubbornly mooing and bellowing, but refusing to enter. I continued calling until the cattle walked through the gate, only to stop again a few metres inside the field. In a last-ditch attempt, I walked over to the Orchid Field gate and called, whistled and cajoled for all I was worth until the herd gave in and wandered over to me. I then walked the herd through the wettest parts of the field, out of the gate, and back into the Flooded Wood Pasture, leaving the gate open. I did the same thing on 22nd and 23rd. Early morning on the 24th I found the herd happily grazing and working its magic at the Orchid Field end of the Rhombus Field, where its has been of its own accord ever since. I don’t know if this is just chance, or a direct result of my strategy, but that’s cattle for you.
If there is a moral here, I suppose it’s this: if you want something, keep trying until you get it.
There is one small problem, though: each morning the herd follows me out through the Rhombus Field, along the Farmer’s Field Corridor to North Pasture gate, where it moo and bellow until I am out of sight. I suppose I should be thankful I’m making headway with the herd.
Grazing the Orchid Field will not be so easy.