When I arrived at the Rhombus Field today the herd came running, mooing and bellowing. What I heard was: “We’ve had enough of this Rhombus Field, Mr. Mike!”
Cutting willow and alder scrub in the Orchid Field was my plan for the day, so I thought this a good opportunity to get the cattle in there also. I moved quickly through the herd, hoping it would follow me, and hopped from one rush clump to another to avoid sinking into the mire and filling my wellies with water. At the southern end of the Rhombus Field is a wooden bridge and the gate to the Orchid Field. An area of deep sticky mud must to be negotiated before reaching the safety of the bridge. Experience has taught me to avoid lingering in the mud and to grab surrounding saplings to pull myself through. At the northern end of the Rhombus Field the cattle stood with their long faces turned away, their noses in the air, waggling their backsides at me. Considering how eager they were to greet me earlier today, backside waggling was not the sign I was looking for. I’m not surprised at their behaviour, though – they are Scottish cattle after all.
I felt sure the herd’s innate inquisitiveness would soon get the better of it, when I was seen working in the Orchid Field; of course, I should have known better. After hours of cutting willow and alder scrub, even though I called the cattle many times and they answered enthusiastically with bellows, they had no plans to join me. The herd is too settled in the Rhombus Field. The Orchid Field gate is open now, so maybe the cattle will go though of their own accord.
It’s annual TB testing time again at Wilden Marsh on 27th November. Cattle from local reserves will be trailered in over the next couple of weeks. At the end of the stressful TB tests, for the WFDC Rangers and cattle at least, all beasts will be returned to their local patches and the marsh herd will be sent to graze Chaddsley Wood, five miles away, before returning to Wilden Marsh at the end of January 2018 to finish the winter grazing. I will have two cattle-free months to look forward to, and I expect the herd back on the marsh in good condition.