Animal stories, Highland cattle, Uncategorized

George the Mighty



George Halfcalf loves his mothers feed

and hates his mother’s milk.

He is stronger-

he walks in a straight line

without  wobbling

as if punchy


Tonight he kicked his heels in the air

– he-kicked- up- his – heels

At last he has energy to spare for exuberance

(It has the added benefit of dislodging a large dungplug from under his tail)

I still add a litre of his mother’s frothing milk

to his inappropriate diet.

Between us

we are winning

but the daily session with the bottle

is a penance

for both of us.



Magnificent Morag



I don’t believe it!
and again-
I don’t belieee-eeve it.
She did it.
Old White Morag – so arthritic that she hobbles around on three legs with her right rear dangling like laundry
bad-tempered hammer headed old besom – growling cow
tough geriatic whose heat preserving hair thins to reveal patches of pink skin
old fool who will not enter cover even in the worst of weather
that I have nursed all winter with special buckets of cattle nuts dosed with cod liver oil secreted specifically for her once the more robust animals have been lured to the trough.
She’s done it!
She has a skinny tall red calf at foot – still wet standing already- as I quad up the road for the morning feed.
Well done Old Lady.
Champion Mother
Mother of Champions.



Taking the train to dinner

The West Highland line runs from Glasgow to Mallaig across the water from the isle of Skye. It is possible to take an evening berth in London and wake up on the West Coast on the way to the Hebrides-
or at Corrour station.
Corrour is a stop to nowhere.
There is no town here, no village.
No homes in fact.
Just bare hill, water – and some station buildings.
The nearest road is 17 miles.
Lynda and I are on that road driving west from the farm for half an hour, before pulling off the road at the postage stamp of a sign directing traffic to Tulloch station.
We join a southbound train, curving away from the road along the shore of a wide stretch of cold water. There are no trees on the hills, the horizon is low, the colour wintry under rain laden cloud.
A single white house crouches at the end of a loch – with no road apparent.
Names slide across the carriage end in digital orange: Corrour, Rannoch, Bridge of Orchy, Crianlarich….
We alight at the first – the wind blows unshielded from the north, but there is a friendly wave from the station door. We walk down the platform and cross the tracks. It is our hostess: Lizzie, who with husband Ollie provides food and rooms made all the more comforting and inspiring by contrast with the context.
Three hours later, we are back on the platform.
Lizzie appears once more in the doorway to shout that the train is delayed by an hour- she was phoned by the guard concerned about passengers kept waiting on the windy platform. She phones again when leaving Bridge of Orchy; we wait in the comfort of the station restaurant exiting into the wind with just five minutes to wait.
Twenty minutes later we arrive back at Tulloch; the guard releases the electric lock on the door.
‘Do you have torches?’
We don’t.
‘The crossing is at the far end. Use the lights from the train to walk down.’
She holds the train for us until arrive at the end of the platform, and cross (slightly nervously) in front of the train.
I give a thumbs up into the glare of the lights, and we fumble our way onto the platform and out of the gate to the car park.
We drive home.