The end is nigh for the Himalayan balsam at the northern end of the marsh.

Sunrise: 05.06 Sunset: 09.24

Hoo Brook Pasture still looks like a battlefield, but it’s a field in which the battle is almost won. Most of the Himalayan balsam seeds and leaves have passed through the cattle, but a lot of bare stalks are left sticking up above ground. In fact, I’d say the cattle are bored with this pasture and are preferring the rough grasses at the dry end of the Swamp, close to Hoo Brook.

I have no doubt that the head cow has her mind-set on pastures new. Cows are not known for their powers of deep thought or concentration, they are best known for their ability to eat green things and for the wonderful taste and texture of their meat, and let’s not forget their milk either.

There is not a lot going on in a cow’s head; I have often seen the light go out in their eyes when they switch their brains off. A cow will target a stand of balsam and promptly get stuck in. Once it has established a rhythm, control of the cow’s motor functions are passed to a special hard-wired brain circuit (honestly), making it oblivious to its surroundings and preventing the onset of boredom. If I make small movements close to a cow in this special state of mental torpor, it is unlikely to notice. If I break a balsam stalk, the sharp cracking noise will cause the cow to jump and emit a startled whinnying noise.

So the cattle are exercising their gnashers in the northern corral and corridor this evening. I hope they visit Hoo Brook Pasture to work on those ugly balsam stalks from time to time.


The whole herd of 10 cows grazing at the dry end of the Swamp.


The bare Himalayan balsam stalks in Hoo Brook Pasture.


Shetland cow grazing in the Swamp.


Himalayan Balsam Stalks.

Riverside Pasture.

Sunrise: 05.04 Sunset: 09.25

Standing at the top of the pipe bridge steps this afternoon, I photographed the north, middle, and south end of the Riverside Pasture.

Himalayan balsam grows only on the river side of the stock fence, thanks to the cattle.

The vegetation in this pasture is mainly nettles and thistles; there were a couple of ragwort plants, but I pulled them.

Dirty sugar beet washing water from the sugar factory, now a new combined residential and industrial development, once flowed through the rusty pipes to the lagoon field, crossing the Swamp on the way.


Looking towards the north end of the Riverside Pasture.


Looking east across the middle of the Riverside Pasture.


Looking towards the south end of the Riverside Pasture.