This evenings walk with my cows, to try and unlock some of the tension in my lower part of my back was a lovely way to settle my thoughts and re-connect with what it is that makes me truly happy living on the farm.
With the frogs croaking and the crickets in full chorus, before the expected rain in the next 24hrs, I went out into the laneway close to the house where I sometimes put cattle to keep the grass under control and softly spoke to my small herd of twelve and summoned them to follow. Lady, my pet Fresian Cross Angus, who I will never part with, did not show any hesitation. She simply started walking behind me, knowing that I would be guiding her to a much lusher pasture. The others all followed without hesitation. Only the small calf who is roughly three months old, and hasn’t yet learned to trust me, stood for a moment and watched as the others meandered off. It didn’t take long for her to understand that there was no danger or harm in joining the rest of the herd. Time and a continual gentle approach will change that.
It’s really quite beautiful here late afternoon, early evening. You can feel the cool air coming down from Mt Baw Baw rolling over the foothills and down onto the flats. The fresh smell of eucalyptus travelling on the breeze from the native forrest behind is extremely refreshing. I love taking deep breaths and closing my eyes and thinking of the two resident eagles that would probably be above me somewhere gliding without sound upon the updraft. I could hear a Kookaburra in the distance, and a pair of Plovers complaining about an intruder. Tiny spiders weaving their nightly webs in the grass, flying ants in a hurry to go somewhere and even small beetles who from time to time chose to land on me.
We crossed a paddock of grass, with lush clovers and rye, but no-one bothered to stop. I was taking them from the driveway to paddock two, where the grass has been growing for a couple of weeks now. It would be fresh and clean, with the Dung Beetles having done their job of eating all of the remnants from its last occupiers. Lady was still behind me. I could hear her breathing, but regardless of their weight, cows are very quiet when they walk. I turned to see how far the rest had managed to travel. To my surprise, the young steers, heifers and the mother and calf were right behind me.
Opening the gate to the paddock, I stood aside and let Lady pass. She stopped for a moment half way through and gently nudged me forward. I assumed that she wanted me to walk ahead of her into the paddock, so I obliged and crossed the grass to find a place to lay down and enjoy the time with my companions for a little longer.
As they all arrived one by one into the paddock, it wasn’t too long before all of them had formed a circle around me. The sound of twelve happy bovines chomping down on their night time feed at ground level, all within metres of you in stereo, is something everyone should try. I closed my eyes again and found myself lost in their meal, and woke up some time later feeling like I’d been there the entire night. To my surprise, three of them had settled down very close to me amongst the long grass chewing their cud, and the small calf was standing looking over me with care in her eyes. I hoped that my snoring hadn’t scared her too much.
As I got clumsily up from the ground with all of the sleep chemicals in my brain, I found myself in total darkness. The moon had not yet risen, and I noticed that three of my cats and the dog had joined us. All seemed perfect in the world, and I felt totally at peace. Closing the gate behind me, with all three cats and dog in tow, I wondered if anyone else in the world had done the same as me tonight and had enjoyed the beauty and splendour of how wonderful it is to be a farmer.