So there I was happily photographing butterflies when it occurred to me that the usual bellowing from the field across the road was much louder than usual. And seemed to be coming from a different direction. Not so much from the field, as from behind the house. Where there was not much in the way of field, but quite a lot of garden. That was the point where I turned round and found two cows and their adolescent calves doing their best to look nonchalant in our driveway.
I dug out the other half from his cave – he too having been oblivious to the invasion – and while he stood around discouraging them from venturing any further into the front garden, I went to investigate the back. With much crashing and mooing the rest of the herd – including the bull – came slinking out of the vegetation round the pond, looking the cattle equivalent of sheepish (cowed?). It was only after I’d finished waving my arms at them and driving them out of the grounds that I started to wonder whether yelling at a bunch of not-terribly bright but extremely large animals with their young was all that intelligent on my own part. The bull didn’t give me any hassle at all but the boss cow did take a few steps towards me before she thought better of it and headed off, the rest of the herd at her heels leaving nothing but trampled hoofprints on the lawn.
They headed up the driveway of the next door farm and we rather left them to it. It’s hard to know what to do about loose livestock around here if you don’t know who owns it. There’s no loose cow hotline, or a handy website where you can report straying cattle complete with an irritating google-maps based interface. We figured they’d be off the road and more likely to encounter someone who did know what to do up that track than on our lawn. And the chances of us actually getting them back into the field and keeping them there ourselves were vanishingly small. There’s a smallholding down the road towards the ford where the owner does nothing all day but usher his sheep back into the field where they belong.
Anyway, cycling back from Bigtown later I saw that they had been safely gathered in and a man busy securing the gate with string. He claimed they had lifted the gate off its hinges to head off for their wander. This would be impressive if so because when I cycled past it before and it looked pretty shut so if they had got the gate off its hinges they’d also managed to pick the gate up and lean it back up behind them. This rather implies that they’re not going to be defeated in the future by a couple of bits of string, and especially not now they’ve tasted the forbidden delights of our back garden’s lawn.