Galloway Update

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Hands-off livestock

It’s been a while since I reported on the cattle, but I put this down solely to the fact that there has been very little to relate. The beasts lost some condition in the early days of January, but this was all within an acceptable margin and they took a restorative leap forward when they were wormed and fluked a month ago.

I began this cattle project with the nagging concern that I might not have sufficient time to devote to it. I’m already tied down with a number of projects for work and play, and I worried that a small farming enterprise would sink me. In reality, these animals are so beautifully “hands-off” that they have hardly made a dent in my schedule and simply run alongside everything else I do with hardly a second thought. It is a pleasure to feed them every morning, and this short trip up the hill has become a fantastic mid-morning break in a routine that might otherwise be desk-bound and dry. I have only laid my hands on the animals twice in fifteen months of ownership, and most of my “farming” has been a simple matter of sitting back and watching them grow.

There is something deeply satisfying about these animals and this project. It scratches many of my awkward itches and has trained me to an almost zen-like level of patience. My mother bought some shetland x welsh mountain sheep which share the field with my cows, and they went to a hebridean tup in the autumn. They are already showing signs of being in lamb, and they will soon have fluffy little followers at foot. It’s been entertaining to see these two species share the same space – The sheep are on a short cycle; a rapid turnover of growth, reproduction and development. By comparison, the cows are almost unchanged after a year on a mission more ponderous and long term than any sheep’s wildest imagination.

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