The Rangers drove the cattle from Falling Sands Nature Area, across Hoo Brook bridge and onto Hoo Brook Pasture this afternoon. The herd gave me the run-around when I took them over to Falling Sands a couple of weeks ago, I thought it prudent to ask the Rangers to return it to Wilden Marsh.
I checked the north marsh boundary fences this evening before opening the gates to North Corral, Northern Corridor, North Pond Pasture and the Swamp.
The herd was waiting in Hoo Brook Corridor on my return from checking the fences. Having been moved once today, they weren’t too keen on listening to me. Waynetta was quick to respond to my call, though, followed by Brutus, surprisingly. The others were reluctant to move out of the corridor. It was getting dark, so I left them to get on with it and went home.
It’s now time for the herd to begin the all-important winter grazing.
I recorded my journey around the north end of the marsh with my iPhone, should anyone be interested in seeing it. The video starts in Hoo Brook Pasture, moves along to the southern end of the Northern Corridor, returning through North Pasture, stopping at North Pond, and ending in Hoo Brook Corral.
The cattle moved from North Riverside Pasture into Hoo Brook Pasture quickly this evening. So easily that I thought I might as well take them on into Falling Sands Nature Area, even though I had asked the Rangers to do it tomorrow morning. Big mistake! I called the herd over Hoo Brook bridge, and they crossed willingly. Waynetta hesitated after the crossing, and I realised that this might not be as straight forward a move as I had hoped. The cattle went berserk! They did everything they could to avoid entering Falling Sands Nature Area. They ran rings around me in all directions. It didn’t take long for me to accept that they were not going to cooperate. It was 7.45pm and the cattle were refusing to move out of the Sewage works service area. I thought it might be a good idea to force Brutus into Falling Sands, and perhaps the rest of the herd would follow, but no – they were having none of it. The cattle and I were running around like idiots and not getting anywhere! I was too busy and hassled to video the action. All of a sudden, just as I began to despair, Waynetta Galloway went berserk. She ran around jumping and bucking amongst the other cattle, butting them all over the place. She gathered them together and herded the uncooperative beasts along the narrow track to the closed Falling Sands Nature Area gate. I could have hugged her. She blocked the cows retreat while I weaved through and opened the gate; she then pushed them through. This is not the first time that Waynetta has come to my aid. Waynetta Galloway is a special cow.
The marsh cattle go about their daily business, usually without complaint; however, they have minds of their own and are capable of making decisions. They like to move on as long as it’s not to a recently grazed field. When I call the herd from the direction of a recently browsed field, they are unlikely to react – they will ignore my calls. If I call from the direction of lush green pasture, they will likely respond quickly. Yesterday evening I couldn’t see the cattle when I arrived at the gate linking North Pasture to North Pond Pasture. I had come to take them on the third leg of their journey north. This should be a simple matter of moving the cattle through one gate, giving them access to North Pond Pasture, the Swamp and Hoo Brook Pasture. The final leg will be over Hoo Brook bridge and across the sewage pumping station service road to Falling Sands Nature Area.
I leant against the gate and called the herd as loudly as I could. Almost immediately, from the far end of the pasture, excited moos answered. There was movement in the distant tall grass as brown cow bodies bobbed up and down in their eagerness to get to the gate first. This is going to be easy, I thought.