Last week our cows arrived. We're very excited.
Of course, they aren't actually ours - they're on loan from the local dairy farm as lawnmowers. Apparently they're 'dry cows', eight months pregnant (not for the first time), and just lounging around in the fields waiting for their calves to arrive.
I know pretty much nothing about cows, and am drinking in every little bit of information the farmers are willing to give me. This week I've learned that cows are pregnant for roughly the same time as humans (who knew?), that they won't eat buttercups because they're too bitter, that before they give birth they have sixty days of rest from milking, and that the price the dairy will pay the farmers for milk fluctuates throughout the year.
Sometimes the depths of my ignorance knows no bounds.
Yesterday the farmer dropped by with his young daughter, and I followed them into the fields to check on the ladies. They're surprisingly nimble considering their size, and wouldn't let us anywhere near them.
The young girl was telling me about her pets, and when I said I didn't have any, she said 'well you've got these cows now!' Excellent - I now feel fully justified in giving them names and posting pictures of them on the internet. (Not that we've actually given them names yet...)
For some reason I assumed cows would stay in one field until they'd munched all the grass and then wander to the next, but they don't do anything of the sort, they seem to wander about on a whim, sleeping first in one field, and then in another.
When you think about it, why would they see the fields as separate spaces? Those walls are our boundaries after all, and while they'll keep a cow out, if the gate is open, why wouldn't it go through?
After all, the grass might be greener over there.
We should have calves in around three weeks, and I'm told I won't need to have any involvement in the birthing process, although I'm keeping a close eye out and have the farmer's number just in case. I do feel partly responsible for them (even though technically I'm not at all) and can't help worrying just a little bit.
The cows, of course, have been through it all before and aren't showing the slightest bit of worry.
I went on a dry stone walling course today. It was just an introductory day, run by the local authority. The wall was limestone, same as ours, but the stones were more irregular and blockier than ours, and the walling style described as 'random'.
The wall we were working on looked rather dilapidated when we arrived.
The first job is always to strip out the stone, and in this case, it was so higgledy piggledy we took it right down to the foundations.
We found a couple of fossils, although perhaps not as many as we expected as limestone is often full of them.
Finally we got down to the ground, and rebuilt the foundations.
We were a small, inexperienced group, and by the end of the day we were pretty chuffed with the short section of wall. I'm used to the more regular blocks of limestone, so to my eye this still looks a bit like a pile of stones, but I'm assured it's an actual style of walling.
I was pretty tired when I got home, but after a couple of hours on the sofa, and after planting out the rest of my raspberry canes, I took a deep breath and started to tackle my own bit of collapsed wall.
Hmm. My wall is both taller and wider than the one we did on the course, but I was heartened by my stones being easier shapes to work with. It's always a bit of a challenge knowing how much to strip out though - you're meant to get to a bit that's sturdy enough to build on, but my entire wall feels like it's about to fall down. This might be a long job.
Sit down and make yourself comfortable. I'm Jenni, and I write here about our new forray into country living, which includes growing food, knitting, baking, wandering around the fields, and seeing which local cafe serves the best cake.