Animal stories, Highland cattle, Uvie Farm

Taking baby to cover

Mild and damp after a night of lashing rain. The old dears are lying on muddied flanks like stranded river barges; Abbie’s newborn is hunched and lethargic after his first night in the open, provoking fear of infections. I rearrange the hurdles to create a playpen with a haybale opened in the northeast corner. Wee man may not find his way in there just yet but when there’s more calves playing together they’ll use it for shelter & warmth.
I walk with the Nog past the paddock checking that everyone has settled: they’re all chewing the cud – ‘chawing the cood’ as show supremo Rich Thomson says. I walk down the fence towards the old tinkers’ rest at the roadside. The sound of shots blows across intermittently  from the estate on the steady wind that combs the Creag Dhubh waterfall sideways across the darkened granite. Turning south into the boggy aspen copse, the Nog takes off excitedly: a female roe breaks elegantly to the marsh. She is not alone but I can’t make out any more until a pair of well-grown calves shoot up the hill synchronised as if in harness.
Roe calves make me nervous in case the Nog catches them, or rather doesn’t but takes off after them and then I have to take off after him – unfair contest! This pair crash heavily between the wires of the stock fence and away.
Returning from opening the dry pasture to Angus Halfhorn and his pair of females (mainly so that Alice can use her sandcracked hooves on drier ground), I spy the deer again, all three of them. The doe, her charges already regathered, is bounding across the open field returning them to the cover of the lower ground. The Nog is hunting mice – muzzle thrust into the mud at the base of a rush clump- so, to my relief, neither sees nor smells them.
Time I returned my charges to cover – I’ll rest easier with wee man inside the shed.


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