Mucking out smell is still hanging in the air

If print was scratch and sniff, you would be inhaling the rich,

sweet, earthy scent of farmyard manure that is currently enveloping

the farm buildings and infiltrating the farm house.

The yards are mucked out quite frequently so there is never a huge build up of straw and muck to decompose and I quite like the smell. In small doses.

Today it is heavier on the air because the yards are being cleaned out.

The foldyard is eerily empty of cows, calves and Mr Bull.

There is still stock in the buildings, but mainly in well ventilated peripheral yards which are open to the elements. School’s out for the summer.

Last year, the herd was turned out relatively late as the fields were too wet. This year has been dry and cold but there has not been sufficient grass for the herd to graze if we had turned them out any earlier.

We hung on last year because we had plenty of silage from the previous summer.

This year we ran out of silage weeks ago because of a poor crop last summer. John has been scrabbling around, buying in hay and silage to keep stock fed. But at last. Turn out time was on us.

And about time too was the general mood of the cows.

For a fortnight or so they have been mooching about the empty silage clamp gazing wistfully across at the fields.

They have lost condition on their emergency rations, but the calves look well, even if the cows have all milked off their backs and look the skinniest we have ever seen them.

John spent the morning creating a chicane of field gates to guide the cows out of the yard to the road.

Any gaps filled with tractors , trailers and the Land Rover.

Friends had as usual been drafted in to help with the job, the main concern not being the cows getting across the road and into the fields, they know where they are going, but making sure that all the calves would follow them out.

Life so far has only been limited to the foldyards.

The big wide world beckoned.

My task was to stand in the lane and present an impenetrable block to the cows so that they would not charge down the lane. I always get the rotten job.

With my ipad ready to record the rodeo and ears cocked to hear any approaching cars, I waited.

Nothing happened. The cows’ bellowing reached a crescendo. “What’s the matter” I screamed to John.

“Why are we waiting?”

I could see him mouthing words to me and gesticulating but could hear nothing. “What’s the matter” I yelled again “Why are you waiting”.

“Because we’re behind you” came a voice in my ear as a pair of cyclists whizzed past. “He’s trying to tell you that”.

Thirty seconds later the cows were out.

Thirty seconds later again all of them, calves included, were in the field.

Job done.

Mrs Downs