Spring Suspense

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After several weeks on a diet of oatmeal, hay and oat straw, the bull is beginning to take shape. I’ve heard people crooning over their livestock for years and always found it hard to fathom. But now I have a bull of my own and I’ve worked to feed him into fitness with the sweat off my back, I know that pride and understand the power of it. This beast is mine and to me he shines.

His first calf will be born in the next few days, and the suspense is a torture. I’m starting to realise that farming is basically just a highly stylised form of patience, and waiting for the calving to begin has ground my teeth down to their stumps.

I’ve got high hopes that his first calf will be a nicely marked riggit, but these beasts don’t always breed true. The calf might be white or black or somewhere in between, and I love that unpredictability which harks back to the days before breed societies and pedigree certificates. It must be dull to work with other breeds where you already know how the calf will look before the bull has gone out, and that’s one of many reasons why I reckon riggit beasts trump other kinds of cattle.

And if we get a well-marked calf, it’ll represent some slender thread of resumption. It’ll probably be the first riggit born on this place for a century, and a reminder that these animals are nothing new here in Galloway. I have fingers so tightly crossed that the nails have gone white.

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