Farm Life, Highland cattle, Uncategorized

Taking up space makes it hard to be seen

I return from Inverness where the truck has had a damaged door repaired. Parked in the loading bays at Dingwall Mart sorting out my paperwork before loading Alice and her baby (now partnered with young Holly at the yard), I notice that the adjacent farmer is pulling away. It takes a moment to realise that his vehicle will clear the open door but the stock trailer will not. By this time it is too late to swing the door to, so I withdraw from the interior and yell… and yell again. The trailer catches the door and starts to bend it forward, folding it back agaisnt the wing, stopping before ripping it off.
This was in October: it has taken this long driving around with the wind roaring around the damaged joint: to fix it takes two round trips of a hundred miles, but it is done.
I arrive back dislocated from the farm and the animals so walk out with the Nog to check the pregnant ladies, as if by attending on them I can somehow precipitate the long attended births. Solitary Moira, her lack of horns compromising her capacity to compete for her place in the herd, is in the shed but the others are outside, oblivious of the rain catching on the long hair of their outer coat.
I climb among the rocks of the old gallows mound where I expect the cows to have settled for the night on the drier ground. They are all standing – not yet settled. Abby moves from the feeder to protect her little black bull calf. She has hidden him among the branches of a fallen birch; only his eyes pick up the light.
I cannot find Flora, big red Flora with the fine sweep of horns and the habit of producing some of the finest calves seen in Scotland. I see her shape in lichen blotched boulders, in broken stumps – the dark is playing with my perception.
Back to the paddock with a better torch, this time I walk outside the perimeter sweeping the light inwards. One by one my ladies loom out of the darkness, quietly occupying small parts of the dark. Flora is found on the sloping shoulder of the mound, massively planted, invisible by virtue of passive solidity. Like a rock, or a tree stump.

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