Today is ordinary- a day like other days. Cold again, but not so cold that I have to break ice on the troughs- and dry, so the beasts are content. Bill is rubbing himself on a feed trough as though drawing it to my attention. I lean on his flank some moments scratching the short hair behind his front leg. I know he enjoys his spine and rump being worked over but also this leaning my head over his back, the way the animals do it. Little Holly brings her nose close and I blow gently – she will need separating from the males soon: penned with little Alice she will help me manage the newcomer’s distress when weaned from her mother.
Sounds are muffled and engine noise drifts down benignly from the road as I head downfield noting in passing the levels in the watertroughs. Mother Holly stands by the feeder but head lifted to watch me arrive. She has managed to throw a thatch of silage onto her back that I push aside to massage her wide rump – she bends her head to lick the back of my leg in her usual gesture of reciprocity. Abbie is nervous – I suspect that she was the animal hoisted into the water trough by one of her fellows – as I reach towards her she catches sight of the Nog bouncing frustratedly on the other side of the wire and shies away. Angus Halfhorn is behind her standing quietly, conserving warmth after a frosty night in the open, bends his head towards my feet as I approach. I must stretch over his horns to scratch the centre parting on the top of his neck. I oblige – reflecting how close these gestures are to the attack postures that would enable these animals to use their strength to do harm.
It is peaceful today: the two young stotts stand watch chewing the cud. Up the hill my house stands and breathes.