May 16, 2020
Outside a cottage I frequently pass on my travels, I sometimes see three dogs on the back of a parked quad bike, sitting and watching the world go by with an air of detached interest. Usually when I see them, it is earlyish in the morning, so I can only assume that their owner has been up at sparrowfart doing some agricultural task or other, and has taken a break to have his breakfast, telling the dogs to sit and stay, and so that is what they are doing. Two of them are sheepdogs, which is what you’d expect, and one is a black labrador, but they all sit there and don’t move, even when I cycle past, except to turn their heads to watch me go.
It always pleases me when I pass the house and they are there, waiting. It seems wrong just to pass them without acknowledging their professionalism, as dogs, doing their job of sitting and staying. But then again, it would be worse to pay too much attention to them and risk distracting them from their important task. So I have settled on giving them a brief nod of greeting as I would anybody else who was busy working out in the countryside. So far none of them have nodded back, but I’m not sure I would be surprised if they did.
I was hoping to see them this morning as I returned from my run, for it was about the time of day when I often do, but there was no quad bike parked up outside the cottage, and no waiting dogs. Instead the quad bike (and its owner) was out in the fields with the sheep doing agricultural things. And there on the back, tails wagging furiously with happiness, were my three acquaintances, getting their reward for their patience at last.
If there’s anything happier than a dog on the back of a moving quad bike, I have yet to encounter it. Except maybe three dogs on the back of a moving quad bike.
In other news, the junior branch of Moo-I-Five have discovered the strange creatures living on the other side of the fence. We are apparently fascinating and terrifying in equal measure.
October 1, 2018
So, while I was in Aberdeen this weekend, whipping up dissent and fomenting rebellion among the cycling classes, the farmer has apparently been busy and our neighbours are back.
Rather than replace the rotten fence posts on the existing fence we now have a new extra bit of fence that keeps the coos from eating the broccoli (and licking the greenhouse) but has allowed them to return to their field.
After spending a bit of time investigating whether the new fence is edible (nope), movable by head rubbing (not really) or lickable-to-death (jury still out), Moo I 5 seem to be confining their dissent to mooing at it occasionally and looking at me resentfully as I wander in my garden paradise filled with delicious things-that-aren’t-grass, from which they have been banished. Hopefully things will stay that way.
In other news, my bike tried to kill me yesterday, but that tale will have to wait for another day
September 26, 2018
For those of you eagerly awaiting a Moo-I-5 update, I have a slight confession to make. Alarmed by the fact that the fence that separated our garden from their field had become somewhat less than cow-proof (in that two of the fence posts were no longer in any meaningful sense attached to the ground), I rang the farmer before our new neighbours discovered this and became our uninvited house guests. I was expecting him to bang in a couple of fence posts and all would be good, but instead he just closed a gate and confined them to the other field, shaking his head and muttering about the fact that ‘you can grow them all the grass you like’ and that appears to have been that.
This is good news for our trees and the bits of the veg plot within cow reach, but bad news for the blog and probably the cows too because our garden – as well as being home to tasty cow treats – is also a source of endless amusement to them in what I suspect are otherwise quite dull cow lives. Certainly, when I moseyed past this afternoon on a walk up to the woods, I quickly drew a fascinated crowd.
They were also watching me over the wall as I harvested some of our purple sprouting broccoli this afternoon, no doubt hoping I’d leave some for them. Their stay out in these fields is usually quite short (and, to be brutally honest, I don’t think they go on to pastures new either). Obviously it’s ridiculous to feel guilty about the fact that I’ve banished them from half a field and some variety in their bovine lives.
And yet, somehow I do …
September 14, 2018
So, as I mentioned in the last post, Moo I 5 are back, and when daylight came yesterday, we could see that they had been making themselves at home…
You can’t really see it from the photo, but as well as giving the copper beech a trim, our new neighbours had discovered that if you leaned against the nice scratchy barbed wire hard enough, and streeeetched your neck, you could have some delicious broccoli leaves.
Note innocent expression. Do not be fooled
(this is why I’m fairly relaxed about cabbage white incursions on my brassicas. What takes several dozen caterpillars weeks of eating to acheive, is barely a second’s work for a cow).
I’ve also only just noticed the angle of that fence …
The ash tree has so far survived unbrowsed, although for how long we don’t know, but for one of our new birch trees, a 2m tree tube was no match for a hungry Holstein.
Possibly time to upgrade the defences … and get used to gardening with a fascinated audience again.
September 13, 2018
Coming back from Glasgow last night on the train that gets in at 11, there was part of me that was wishing I’d held out for a lift from the station, so that I didn’t have a 50 minute ride uphill in the dark before I was in my bed. And as I took my habitual route down the cycle path from the station, I did also find myself wondering if this was the wisest route home for a solitary female to be taking late at night. I know there are many women who find the old railway path a little too intimidated – we have it drummed into us from an early age that you don’t go into dark and lonely places alone.
But then again, I was on my bike and, rightly or wrongly, I always feel pretty invincible when I’m cycling. Sure I’ve had the odd encounter with a driver that has left me mentally planning my own funeral for the rest of the ride home, but 99.9% of the time I’ve anticipated their obliviousness and am out of harm’s way as they pull out into my path or overtake me on a blind bend. So I’m not frightened of cycling through parks or along dark cycle paths, although I keep an eye out for any obstacles or lurking figures. Indeed, now that I’ve got decent lights and my miraculous SON dynamo, I positively relish the deserted country roads at night where the only real danger is the lurking lesser-spotted pothole and my habit of riding along looking up at the night sky and ending up almost in a dyke.
And so I rode home under a sky speckled with stars, with Mars rising at my side, incredibly bright and and strikingly red. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so clearly (and apparently it would have been even brighter a few weeks ago) and it was pretty mesmerising. Who needs a lift when you’ve got a planet escorting you home?
It was only once I’d arrived home, putting my bike away in the garage, that I heard a noise – noises – of some thing or some things out in the dark beyond the circle of the light.
The sound of breathing, of shifting weight, of movement.
The unmistakable sensation of being watched from the darkness…
Yes, Moo I 5 are back.
October 10, 2017
That feeling when you’ve stopped your bike by the side of the road to take an important phone call …
“she said what?”
… and you just can’t shake off the feeling that somebody’s listening in.
The cows may have left the field next to our garden, but that doesn’t mean we’re safe from Moo I 5
August 31, 2017
So, I thought that the cow vs tree saga might have come to a premature end when the local farmer moved a bunch of beasts* down the road, and I assumed that included our neighbours. But no sooner had I gone out to dig up some potatoes for our supper this evening, when I realised I had drawn an audience.
They soon resumed their assault on the tree, and although they looked as if they were more interested in the tree tube than the tree inside it, they were managing to bend it over to the point that I worried for the top of the tree. I clearly hadn’t attached it solidly enough to the fence. Nothing a zip tie couldn’t fix…
Except that is easier said than done
When you are being licked to death.
In the end I had to call the other half out so one of us could secure the tree and the other fended off our new best friends. Then, with a feeling of a job well done, we settled down to enjoy a drink in the last of the evening sunshine.
Just have to shake off that sensation that we were being watched, that’s all …
* That’s what they call livestock around here. It makes farming sound a hell of a lot more exciting than I expect it really is.