A glorious spring day today, almost hot!
An afternoon walk with my usual companion down through the woods. It was wonderful, everything smelled fresh and verdant. Except of course for the lane itself which had that smell which always heralds Summer around here, cow dung: pats to be exact, splodges of them all over the road, with associated flies.
Once we turned off onto the footpath the greenery was all we could smell, well, all I could smell. No doubt the dog had zillions of wonderful scents filling his notrils but it was the sun on young vegetation which came my way.
The swallows were having a wonderful time diving for the associated flies: we are so thankful for plenty of herbivore manure around here! Other places which are purely arable and have even lost the old farmyard middens and manure heaps support no food for swifts and swallows nowadays. But we do.
I haven’t seen where the swallows are nesting yet, although as soon as I returned from the US I opened the barn windows so that they could fly in: they usually nest in the hay loft. It is said to bring you good luck if swallows nest in any of your buildings.
But back to the cows. About 120 walk past our gate twice a day, so you can imagine the state of the lane. The cows around here are all Friesian, that is black and white cows. And the weather is clearly now good enough for them to be let out of their winter quarters where they have been stalled ever since early December. They are lying in the lush, long grass in the sun chewing the cud and their calves are with them. This is lovely to see as for many years it was the fashion for them not to have their calves with them at all: they were separated very early.
Cows have a matriarchal society grouping, as do so many herd animals. When a female cow is about to calve, her mother, grandmother, sisters and aunts will all gather round to protect her and stay with her until she has given birth. A strong sense of family. But very few herds exist today where the cows stay together long enough for generations to live together. And most of these cute calves will be taken away from the herd in a few weeks and then we will hear that pitiful and plaintive lowing day and night from mums calling their young. But at least they will have had a few weeks together lying in the sun, playing in the fields and being a family, and today they look as if they are on holiday doing their equivalent of lying on the beach.
Which reminds me of a book I had when I was about three years old called Ferdinand, all about a Spanish Bull who did not want to fight but to just sit in his field and smell the flowers!! I think I’ve still got it somewhere!