Thursday, 31 March 2016

Who let the cows out!

Who let the cows out!
And, anyway, what cows?
Your cows, Vera?
Nooo, ours were still at home.
These cows, this is what I am talking about....

Doesn't look like our farm, does it,
nor do the cows look the same as ours.
No, this farm belongs to these two young people....

.... and close friends and family had been invited to celebrate this next step
in their farming career....

....with plenty of 'strong stuff' alcohol,
after all we are in the middle of the Almagnac region of France
so best to drink what is made locally....
It made for a merry afternoon......
.....which needed some music to set the ambience,
Vera, Lester, Jacques and Herve to the rescue!

It is Herve's son ( the man whose back is to the camera )
whose project this is.
He must be very proud of his son and daughter in law.
Rather than exiting the countryside to go work in offices in the city,
they have elected to have a go at being farmers.
They have rented a large swathe of grazing land,
and already have a over a hundred sheep just about to lamb,
and now they have these cows.
Do you notice that Jacques is holding a set of bagpipes?
This is entirely appropriate, because unlike our two Jerseys..

 ( Feeding time for the lamb, and Lissie licking her lips
 because she thinks she ought to have a sip of milk too )
...... these are Highland cattle,
and what big chunky animals they are too,
especially the bull,
although I am sure that if Lissie was in the right frame of mind,
that she would be willing to share some 'personal' time with him,
but she is in calf,
so can't!
And here is the rest of the herd....
And very hairy creatures they are too!
I did have a drift of  a thought that perhaps the long hair might spin into yarn,
but this idea was allowed to evaporate as I looked at those horns.
They are big horns,
wouldn't want to get in a tangle with one of them,
so best to keep on spinning sheep fleece then.
And so the afternoon rolled on,
with us four playing jigs and reels, interlaced with local Basque music,
which is very similar to Irish and Scottish music,
all of which was entirely appropriate for the event,
which was to welcome the cows to this new land,
and to celebrate this new venture.
It was hot,
it was fun,
it was mucky underfoot,
well it would be, it is a farm after all,
which is an environment we are very happy to be in.
And so it came to be the end of the afternoon,
and it was time....
a final burst of the bagpipes was needed, (Jacques)
together with the beat of the drum (Herve)
accompanied by the fiddle singing away (Lester)
and me on the accordion, doing my own thing.
Over to the cows we went,
me with a bit of a wobble though because that accordion does sit heavy on my chest,
and since I have a plump chest anyway,
the accordion and my chest combine to make me a tad top heavy.
Not to worry,
I had my boots on,
which gave me a firm platform to stand on while I romped away with the bagpipes, drum, and fiddle.
It was magic.
So we played for the cows,
they seemed to have gotten used to the sound,
at the beginning of the afternoon they had been a little fazed by the music,
not in a frightened way,
just in a 'what the hell is that noise' sort of way,
but now they stood, quietly listening,
apart from the quick moment
 when the bull thought he would do some mating practice,
which was not happily received by the cow he was practising on.
And then the gates were opened...
and we continued playing as they went off out to their new pastures.
It felt very 'olde worldy' and timeless,
sort of like blessing these animals,
giving praise and thanks for them being here,
which is at it should be.
This is not a fast food commercial meat operation,
it is honouring these animals,
that is what it felt like.
And so we kept playing for a while afterwards,
and then home,
to find the lamb we have been bottle feeding was bloated up to almost twice his size.
What to do....
so I asked my inner self what needed to be done,
and what came back was:
2 teaspoons of Bicarb and 1 tablespoon of glucose sugar
mixed in a pint of warm water.
Lester syringed it down his throat.
I gave him a massage on his tummy,
and channelled Reiki healing for him.
Then we had to go back out again,
because we were playing at the fellow band member's party.
It was food and music all the way through to the early hours of the morning.
We expected that lamb not to survive.
We have had experience of bloat before,
and none survived.
However, when we arrived home at two in the morning,
or rather, three in the morning because of the clocks changing,
as we got out of the car,
in the crystal clearness of the night,
we heard the lamb mewing at the paddock gate,
saying he was hungry.
We didn't give him any,
but it was nice to hear that he was continuing on with life.
Made an end to what had been a marvellous day.
And somewhere out in the rolling fields of the Gers are the cattle!
Bye for now,


Dawn McHugh said...

What a wonderful day and a grand welcome for the cattle, Highland cattle are suppose to be gentle I am sure you could spin up some of that hair, glad your lambkin made it through the bloat will have to make a note of the bicarb in case we get any with bloat :-)

PioneerPreppy said...

Sigh. Once again you mention a bagpiper and even that he is in a picture but I find I have been mislead. I am thinking the bagpiper is a figment of your imagination. There is no bagpiper.

Funny that the lamb bloated up this young though. I guess he is probably eating clover early since he is a bottle baby.

Cro Magnon said...

Good for those two young farmers. My two farming neighbours have no-one to take over, and goodness knows what will happen to the farms. I probably will no longer be around when the time comes, but I imagine they will both end-up as Dutch owned horse paddocks.

Vera said...

DAWN, even if the Highland cattle are supposed to be gentle I still don't think I will try to spin their hair because living with our two cows has sort of put me off getting too close to cows who don't know me!
I hope none of your lambs get bloat, and you can get something from the vet to cure it, but we didn't have the time to do that, so bicarb it was!

PIONEER PREPPY, Nooo...that was another bagpiper I spoke about previously, the one in the bar...although my friend did say that he turned up at a local fete the other day! Noooo, this is the bagpiper who belongs to our band, and he plays the Basque music with the bagpipes, and what a cacophony of noise those pipe make as well! Ear splitting, but not as ear splitting as the bagpipes which belong to the other bagpiper because they are smaller. PP, there IS a bagpiper, trust me, because my ears tell me that this is so!
We were worried about the bloat on the lamb as well because the Spring grass is still not happening quite yet. All we can think of is that he must have put his head through the fencing wire and eaten something from the other side of the fence which did not agree with him.

CRO MAGNON, I don't know who the owner of this farm is, but those two young people are renting it for the moment. It would be nice to think that they could buy it at sometime in the future. It is nice to see young people taking an interest in farming.

DUTA said...

Vera, you and the accordion are a beautiful sight. Now life is beginning to be real interesting - a combination of farm work and music work, leading to a successful integration within the rural society in which you live.

It seems that the smells coming from the cows didn't spoil the celebration, as everyone looks jolly. A week ago, I was on a bus tour - all of us urban people. We stooped at a cow farm which had an adjacent tiny cafeteria. Nobody was willing to drink or eat in that area as the smells were really bad. I guess farmers are pretty much used to the smells of their animals.

Vera said...

DUTA, sounds like the farm was on an industrial scale, because we don't have any bad smells coming from our cows unless they poo and wee in the same place in which case, Lester says, the smell can be quite strong. But I wouldn't eat in the vicinity of our cow pen, because of the many flies which are resident there!

The Broad said...

What a wonderful colourful day! Armagnac country! Fabulous, I love that stuff ... and such a wonderful colour. You playing the accordion accompanied by bagpipes -- glorious. Love the picture of Lissie eying the bottle -- wonderful face! Who'd have thought this day and age that The Good Life really is possible!

Vera said...

THE BROAD, it was a lovely day, but I didn't drink any Armagnac because even a tiny sip would have had me falling asleep over my accordion!

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