I know I've written about weaning before - that process whereby young creatures are accustomed to something other than their mother's milk; and as I've said before, it sounds as if it should be a gentle and gradual process of mutual benefit to mother and offspring. Hmm, you can tell that to the Marines.
I returned home from a good day out yesterday - a meet-up in Shrewsbury with 2 fellow bloggers, a brush with the world outside the small mountain kingdom of Trelystan and ending with a slow drive home across the spine of the Long Mountain - the glorious landscape of Wales ranged to the west and that of the Shropshire hills to the east. All very self indulgent but good battery-charging stuff. I'm delighted I had such a good day because the following 24 hours have been less than restful.
In the yard over the garden wall was much activity. Cattle were being 'sorted'. It became apparent that cows were going in one direction and their calves in another. They were being weaned. Henceforth ne'er the twain should meet. The calves went off down the road in the wagon to their new home where grass grows long and lush in the pastures alongside the Camlad. Their mothers found themselves ushered back onto the hill and the realisation that their lumpen adolescent calves had gone became apparent. It's no consolation to them that before long the new calves they already carry in their bellies will be born and the cycle will start over again. They bawled and wailed and paced and searched, but of course their offspring are long gone. They wanted those calves; their loss was unfathomable and pained. One of the more enterprising beasts (a Belgian Blue with stubby horns and wild eyes) leaped a couple of hedges and a fence to further her search. She was returned to her field and we hoped they would all settle down.
Settle down they did. For a while. Around 4.00am the cacophony started again and this time our jumping cow was in the lane outside our window contemplating the garden - a flimsy wire fence away. I lie and think about it for a while. The thought of a massive munching cow working her way through the vegetables was almost too much to bear....Perhaps she'll wander back down the lane. Perhaps she won't. It is quickest and easiest just to get up and deal with the situation. Jeans on. Jacket on. Socks. Torch. Boots - if I'm going to face a distraught horned beast I need something I can run in....
Alan, bless him, gets up too - although I notice he stays behind a gate while I go and open another and usher her into the little triangular field. I'm only a little nervous as I walk up the narrow lane in the grey dawn towards her, muttering cow-friendly platitudes by way of a hand of friendship. To my surprise and great relief (I have no Plan B or exit strategy) she dutifully trots off into the field through my opened gate only a little skittishly and heads off to pace its perimeter. She is now confined and it will be bad luck if she leaps from here too.
We head back to bed and watch the dawn come up from beneath the duvet. Every so often our cow paces across our line of vision - which is reassuring in a sense as it means she is still there. The bawling continues from all corners. Each roar echoes against Badnage Wood's steep sides and bounces back into the morning's stillness. A few sheep bleat in sympathy and then the birds kick in....
The day has not been restful but it is quieter now. The cows will settle down and tranquility will be restored. Doesn't do to think too deeply about it. It's a job which has to be done - as I have been told.
In the meantime - ear plugs are a must-have accessory.