Meet The Herd

On the first Monday of 2020 I started doing ‘Meet The Moo Monday’ on my social media accounts, you can find out about it here.

It’s become something both I and others look forwards to each week. It seems, in a world full of stress and sadness, a little escape into the world of cows really can go a long way. So, I’ve brought the herd to here too, where they can be found much more easily and their stories can be elaborated on- some of them have quite a tale to tell!

Have a browse, and let the cows bring a smile to your face! I’ll be adding to the list each Monday, as another is introduced. Some have names, some have numbers; there’s no particular reason why, it’s just what suits each one.

Jump to a cow…

Elsa, 8-6-1, Splodge, Gertrude, Rosie, Essie, Glenda, Hilda, Ginny, Honey, Florence, Eeyore, 3-6-7, Flump, Gloria, Freida, Basil, No. 8, Edith, Pebbles


Elsa

Reserved, never in a hurry, waits for a space instead of makes one, and starts to groan daily at least a month out from calving.

She usually has big, chunky bull calves, but this year had a delicate, little heifer… which took her 3 hours to calve, despite its small size and perfect presentation (I know because I waited in the cow shed the entire time)! She was very proud once shed had it though, and I’m not sure she’s ever let it out of her sight since.

She always loves a head scratch, and is a very good mother- definitely a Supermum contender.


8-6-1

Always first in line for everything. Incredibly nosey, forever searching your hands and pockets for food, friendly but can hold her own in a scuffle, and a little too laid back sometimes…

She tends to stand and shout when calving and wait for someone to come help her. Not that she needs it, she just thinks calving should be a team effort. Safe to say, she’s a lifetime member of the Too Posh To Push brigade!

She had twins a few years ago. They arrived early so she hadn’t yet got quite enough milk to feed them both without a helping hand. She took great delight in finishing off any bottles of milk replacer once they’d had enough of a top-up, and still searches my dad for more bottles every time she sees him.


Splodge

Named due to a white spot on her flank, which we realised is only part of her summer coat when we ‘lost’ her during her first winter here. Her sisters are all named with ‘G’ names, but my dad said her eyes were beautiful so could he call her Gorgeous (yes, he probably should seek help for that)… Needless to say, Splodge stuck- sorry to disappoint you, dad!

She’s quiet and steady, never in a rush or making herself stand out, only just fits in the cattle crush due to her impressive width, and will mother anything. She fostered a calf a couple of years ago, no questions asked, after her own was born dead. Well, no questions from her… The calf was an older twin who took a little bit of persuading to let her mother it and absolutely hated her constantly bathing and mithering it!

She’s had twins herself this year and seems to have adopted the Free Range Mothering approach… If you spot a cow feeding two, one of them is probably a Splodge twin, and it’s very likely Splodge is nowhere in sight!


Gertrude

Meet Gertrude, or rather, her full name, Groaning Gertrude.
Yes, she really is always this scruffy.

You know she’s near as she moans/grumbles/grunts constantly. When she calves, her voice reaches deafening decibels as she tells the world she’s in labour, and then that she’s got a calf, and so on… She’s had twins three years in a row now, which seem to elicit twice the volume from her. A true Foghorn Mother, her calves must all be born with a headache. Luckily, she’s a really good mum, if a bit lackadaisical and food orientated…

I’m not sure she actually knows where her terrors are most of the time, but it’s probably best for her sanity that way. Each set of her twins are known as tiny but fierce forces to be reckoned with. Their small size can be deceiving, as many bigger calves have found out when being on the wrong side of their terrifically tenacious attitudes. They will always be the last ones standing in a fight, something they inherit from their mother.


Rosie

Rosie was a calf which wasn’t actually meant to be kept for breeding, but she made that decision for us by accidentally being caught by the bull and calving just before she turned 14 months old… Talk about a surprise teenage pregnancy!

Three more calves later and she’s still here, although she’s always on thin ice… We’re not entirely sure she has enough milk for her calves, as everyone else always seems to be feeding them. But they’re as big as the rest come weaning time so, each year, she stays, but with a question mark over her head.

She’s mild mannered and very inquisitive. Not the bravest, or bolshiest, although, she can be tempted anywhere with a bucket of food, which is handy.


Essie

A lover of scratches, food, and taking everything s-l-o-w-l-y. She happily sits near the bottom of the pecking order and makes no attempts to move herself further up, prefering an easy life instead. She’s an incredible mother though, who keeps her calves full of milk and spotless, literally

She raised a foster calf a couple of years ago, called Dopey Dave (he wasn’t the brightest of sparks, he once misjudged a doorway while playing with the other calves and ran into the wall…). He was black and white, as he was a British Blue cross calf from a local dairy herd, and she was constantly trying to wash his black patches off!

She unfortunately calved dead twins this year, and is now rearing another black and white foster calf from the same dairy herd. Essie is definitely the brains of the operation this time round as well.


Glenda

The Ginormous Gentle Giant. And Essie’s full sister.

She’s the biggest cow in the herd, but also the meekest around the others, never pushing in or starting a fight with anyone.

She absolutely thinks my dad was put on this earth to provide scratches. She’ll seek him out wherever he is, giving him a gentle (for a 750kg cow) nudge if he doesn’t notice… She’s firmly scratched her place in his heart- it’s been made very clear that if ever she doesn’t get in-calf, she gets all the chances there is… I go before she does.


Hilda

Meet Hilda. She’s a homebred cow- her dam was the wonderful, everdependable Ermintrude, who sadly had to leave us last year due to having a tumour on her foot which couldn’t be removed and was beginning to cause her discomfort. She seems to stamp all her calves with her unkempt look, so it never feels she’s far away.

Just like her mum, she’s so laid back she’s practically horizontal. An old soul in a young body, Hilda was definitely the perfect name for her.


Ginny

Always sporting the most impressive bed-head. A laid back, pure Lincoln Red, with all the breed’s characteristic hairyness, and gallons of milk for each year’s calf.

She tends to just drop her calves and carry on her day, with no fuss or commotion. She does have some slight Scatterbrain tendencies though, and is easily distracted by something yummy, and so has been known to see the open gate you’re trying to move her and her newborn through and march off to investigate, completely forgetting about the small four-legged thing she’s meant to be keeping with her at all times…


Honey

Honey inherited her name from her mum, Honey Monster, who had a love of sweet things (like black treacle from the baking cupboard). We sadly lost her due to a car accident a couple of years ago, but she well and truly lives on in her daughter!

Friendly, inquisitive, always at the front of photos, and forever wondering if you’ve got anything edible… The only difference to her mother is she’s a little more refined looking, thanks to her sleek and stylish Limousin father (as opposed to the dragged-through-a-hedge-backwards look the pure Lincoln Reds tend to sport!).


Florence

Meet Florence. Usually found at the front of everything, and game for any photo opportunities. She’s got a bit of a chip on her shoulder with the other cows and is determined to climb her way up the pecking order, the bosses have other ideas though, and she’s yet to come out on-top in any scuffles.

She’s Hilda’s full sister; another Ermintrude daughter. Ermintrude passed more than her good nature onto her though- she also passed on her addiction to milk, despite her being weaned a few years ago. Therefore, she is currently sporting a very fashionable green, spiky, plastic nose ring, the same her mother used to wear, after being caught sucking another cow. Hopefully, the plastic spikes will touch any udders she tries to suck and prompt the cows to kick her off.

Luckily, her saving grace (other than the butter-wouldn’t-melt look) is the lovely calves she has, even if they are always up to no good! She’s very much a “my darling can do no wrong, he’s just having fun” kind of a mother. Her current offspring is always found someplace he shouldn’t be, and she could not care less.


Eeyore

Meet Eeyore, or Queen Eeyore to have her full name. She’s quite a special one, and she knows it. Always getting scratches and extra nibbles from my dad, we joke her and Glenda are his other wives.

She’s one of the ones you hold your breath for each time she’s pregnancy scanned. The day she walks off this farm will be a very sad day.

Her calves are always one of the best, and the cheekiest. They’re the leaders of the gang of miscreants, yet the apples of her eye. We can’t blame her there though, each one is incredibly friendly and laid back, it’s her signature stamp she puts on them, so they always end up as a favourite around here.


3-6-7

Sometimes sassy (with other cows, especially when her hormones are raging after calving), always sociable and wondering what food you might have, and a complete Supermum (with a tendency to be a bit of a Helicopter Mum at the beginning!).

She’s a homebred cow. Her father is the Limousin bull we’ve just sold, Clifford- giving her the genes to produce calves with Beyoncé-like behinds, and her mother was half Friesian (a Dairy breed) and half Aberdeen Angus (a very maternal beef breed, native to the UK)- so she thankfully inherited her milkyness!

She’s turned out to be a brilliant cow, considering we never meant to keep her… She was another accidental teenage mum who we couldn’t bear to part with once she reared her little accident ‘One-Ball-Billy’ (I’d say the name explains itself pretty well). I’m really glad we did keep her; we look forwards to seeing each year’s calf, they’re always cracking animls.


Flump

Perfectly described by her name- at 4 years old, she still hasn’t amassed many brain cells, or gained any elegance or spatial awareness!

When she first calved as a heifer, 2 years ago, she dropped the calf while standing then shot forwards away from it at 100mph! She seemed to think it was an alien descended from above. It took for one of the old cows to lean across from where she was laid and begin to wash the poor calf, who was laid in a heap wondering what was going on, for Flump to realise it was actually a calf, not an alien, and as nobody else was claiming it, it must be hers. And so, she gained her name of Flump.

She had her 3rd calf this year- thankfully, she’s slightly wiser now, so knew he was hers. Although, she did have him against a wall, so she’s maybe not that much wiser.


Gloria

The tank. As wide as she is tall, and a cantankerous thing, not your average, laidback Lincoln Red- the others all know you don’t mess with Gloria! She’s all brawn, and so are the chunky calves she pops out every year.

She’s one of the only Lincolns who doesn’t truly trust my dad.

The first calf she had was about a month premature and so had a weak immune system and became very poorly during his first week.

We called him Tiny Tim and after a lot of TLC from my dad, he survived and thrived! By the time he was sold at a year old, he was the same size as all the rest, but Gloria seems to have taken from the situation that my dad is the reason her calf nearly died… She got very stressed when he was ill, to the point where her milk began to dry up, and wasn’t a fan of her shiny, new calf being constantly manhandled.

She’s never been quite as settled around him since. The others all come for scratches, but she prefers to stay at arm’s length. If the grudges she holds against other cows who get in the way of her food are anything to go by, she won’t forgive him any time soon. But there’s always hope she might become a big softie in old age.


Freida

Another homebred cow- her mum is Essie, the one who is raising a foster calf, Bluebell, this year.

She’s an incredible mother, who acts as a bit of a mentor to any heifers (first-timers). Although, she does have a bad habit of sucking other cows sometimes. Hopefully, she’s grown out of that this year.

Just like her mum, she too has raised a foster calf, after her first calf died, 2 years ago. It took weeks it took to convince her that, although it had changed colour and aged a couple of weeks, the little, white calf really was hers, and she was having it whether she liked it or not…

They were inseparable after a month or so, and that bond has never broken. We kept Pebbles to add to our breeding herd, and her and Freida can still be found together almost all of the time, just like in the photo of her here (Pebbles is on the left).


Basil

Meet Basil the Bazadaise Bull, or sometimes, Basil the… *insert less than flattering name here*. A loveable rouge, who arrived here a few years ago.

He didn’t act much like a bull at first, and we seriously questioned what we had bought…

He’s partially deaf, would huddle under a hedge when the weather was anything but sunny, was scared of his own shadow, often trying to run to the next county if you approached him, and could always be found licking the horses but didn’t seem to know what his job was when it came to the cows…

Luckily, he’s now unrecognisable, not least because he’s almost doubled in size. Once women and fodder beet (he’ll do anything for those sweeties) made their way onto his radar, all other worries went out the window. Although, I think his herd wish they could be a little more invisible to him again… He won’t leave them alone, especially since he’s just had a 7 month break from them.

As long as he gets them all in-calf though, and doesn’t get too big for his boots around here, he’ll be sticking around for quite some time- sorry girls!


No. 8

The matriarch of the herd.
She’s the oldest and wisest, and the boss, despite what some of the young upstarts might think!

A homebred cow from our old, old limousin bull, Leo (who was also homebred- there’s a lot of lost generations in this cow!), and a really cracking dairy-cross cow, No. 445 / Club Foot (she once got stuck trying to climb into a calf creep feeder and was left with a dodgy foot as a reminder not to do it again!).

You can’t find a better mum than No. 8. She doesn’t let you fuss with her calves much, but then again, she doesn’t need it- she’s got this mothering lark down to a fine art.

She has a fascination with digging holes in the straw in the calving pens (no idea why, it’s just her thing), so we try to put her straight into the shed or field with the other calved cows to stop her making so much of a mess!

Which is just fine with her as she keeps her calves separated from everyone else, she won’t even let them play with other calves until she’s sure they are old enough to not get confused amongst the sea of udders and forget which is hers. Once they’re a couple of weeks old, they can, and do, get up to mischief to their heart’s content and she turns a blind eye- in her eyes, her job only lasts 2 weeks.

We keep thinking each year might be her last, but she seems to be looking younger rather than older, so who knows how long she plans on carrying on!


Edith

Every year, we discover a newborn calf causing absolute mayhem, with a mother nowhere to be seen, and know, almost instinctively, that Edith’s calved.

Her calves literally hit the ground running, then proceed to run rings around everyone else. It’s a good job they’re wick really, as Edith is a very laid-back mother who, after the initial burst of washing the calf until it’s spotless and filling its belly with her abundance of milk, just walks off to get some food of her own, without even a glance behind her. Expecting the calf to either realise it needs to follow her, or be babysat by somebody else.

We can’t really complain about her relaxed mothering technique, or her foghorn voice, or the fact that her uncontrolled darlings get up to all sorts of mischief… As, true to her Lincoln Red genetics, she milks like a train and always weans ginormous calves, especially compared to her relatively small self (one of those being Flump). I just feel sorry for all the other cows who have to put up with her rascals running riot!


Pebbles

Pebbles arrived here as a foster calf for Freida, 2 years ago and we got a bit attached so she never left!

She sticks out a bit in our herd of solid reds and blacks, and boy, does her personality match her striking looks! We spent most of last year cursing her name and wondering why we ever decided to add her to the breeding herd… She was flighty to handle, always the last through the crush, and usually moving at 100mph; it was as if she was going through the ‘rebellious teen’ years.

Just like a rebellious teenager, she didn’t like being told what to do, and quickly learnt how to use her giraffe legs to jump any fence in front of her, changing fields at her will to rejoin the herd her mother was in, regardless of where she was meant to be- they can always be found together, it’ll be interesting to see if that’s still true now Pebbles has her own calf.

But, this winter she’s turned a corner, she’s just had her first calf, pushing out the hefty bull with no help, and is shaping up to be a fantastic mother. Hopefully, she’s matured, or her calf’s first lesson will be fence scaling and running down roads, in the opposite direction to home… I guess we’ll soon find out!