Another week has rolled by and while most get the Monday blues, I quite enjoy it. After forcing myself to rest on Sunday by means of vintage cider and classic Bond movies, I feel ready to crack on with work, planning things and completing chores. I always do my weekly food shop on a Monday evening too, as it feels nice filling the house with food and planning meals for the week.
This weekend has been beautiful in the Derbyshire Dales. A rarity for England, it’s been cold and dry enough for the snow to stick around for longer than the usual few hours, and has been top quality snow perfect for sledging and snowman making. If you’ve ever skied you’ll know that you need just the right type of snow and correct conditions to make good use of it.
On Saturday we cleaned out and fed the cows, as usual. The cold weather motivates me to work harder in order to keep warm, so I moved a few tonnes worth of silage, by hand rather than tractor. That probably sounds rather mad but I’m a glutton for punishment.
The beauty of spending so much time around the cows is that they get to know me more and learn to trust me. We have beef cows, and seeing as they’re born outside in our 200 acres of fields, and raised by their mothers alongside their siblings, cousins and grandparents, it takes more time for them to get used to humans.
We have footpaths, in particular the Limestone Way (because were in the “white peak” so called because we sit on limestone) running through our fields, so our cows must be safe for the public. The bulls we use on our herd are all big softies and present no danger to the public. But of course cows, calves and bulls alike are wary of people and will avoid coming into contact with them.
I’m not saying it’s completely safe to wander through fields with cows – however much I adore them I will avoid doing so as much as possible, especially when there’s cows with young calves. Never come between a cow and her calf. If you have to walk through a field with cows, try to give as much distance as possible and for the love of god I would personally never ever bring a dog in with me.
I’ve been farming for just over 2 years now and am getting to know our cows a little better. Like humans and all creatures, they all have their own personality traits. Some are timid, others are boisterous, some are curious and others are a little dim.
When our cows are inside for Winter it gives me the chance to spend more time with them and hopefully bond with them a little more.
Especially when I’m spending all day feeding them.
I took the opportunity to take some selfies with our cows this weekend. This group of young heifers are very curious and love to give you a big smooch on the cheek if you get close enough.
The nosiest ones are called Nettle and Marcasite. They have a large cattle shed bedded with barley straw to sleep and playfight in. The bars at the front are called a feed fence, where you leave their food so they can stick their heads through to eat at their leisure.
My hens haven’t been very keen on the snow this weekend, yet because it’s been so sunny, they’ve been able to plop themselves down in sun spots around the farm and top up their ginger tans.
Hens are the same as other birds as they effectively carry around their own duvet on their backs. They have layers of feathers and can fluff them up, trapping air between the layers and keeping them warm. This means that they can happily sunbathe even when it’s below zero and snowing.
Otherwise this weekend I’ve taken advantage of the beautiful scenery and taken my dog on an extra-long walkies this Sunday morning. We walked along roads, woodland and fields to the next village, and back again. This took 2 hours, so you can imagine how far away the next hamlet is.
It was breathtaking walking in the temporary Winter Wonderland. I’m glad I did, as it rained all Sunday afternoon and evening and now all the snows disappeared… until next time…