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Willow - taken by a friend on an escape-the-work visit to the coast.

Willow - taken by a friend on an escape-the-work visit to the coast.

Ahh – Willow. Willow-willow-willow!

Recently several of you have asked about Willow and how she is. Is she still as gorgeous? Is she still as wonderful?

Well, yes actually, she is and we are still quite smitten!

As you’ve probably gathered, even if you’re fairly new to my blog, I have a large rambling family and have looked after animals – humans (of all ages), livestock and other sundry organic life forms – for many, many years. There’s not an inkling of a doubt that I’m extraordinarily passionate about their mental and physical welfare but I’m not given to sentimentality or anthropomorphism.

My dogs, whether working or not, have always been brought up with clear, defined boundaries. They are treated fairly but firmly and they’ve thrived. Then came Willow.

I believed the ‘ahhh’ factor would diminish as she got older; the cuddle factor would wane as she became more robust; and the indulgence shown to her would decrease in proportion to the number of socks and loo-rolls she ruined. But no, her charm still has us in its thrall.

Maybe it was my age? The lack of small needy creatures? Age possibly, needy creature…nah. But then I realised that Olly was just as bad. So I ruled out age too. And my stiff-upper-lip-don’t-smile-we’re-english husband is similarly affected; I’ve become used to hearing him muttering sweet nothings to her as they lounge on the sofa together.

My other dogs? Jealous? No. Tolerant to the point of stupidity ‘Tick her off’ I admonish ‘if you’ve had enough tell her. Let her know!’ But they give me woefully long-suffering looks and let her continue to harass them.

Strangers pass her by without a glance until something compels them to look and then they’re captivated ‘But she’s sooo sweeet’ they coo ‘What is she?’

‘Oh, a lucher, just a lurcher.’ I say as I watch them melt.

‘Is she? Really? But she’s…oh, just…’ and they trail off with more cochie-couchie-cooing.

‘Yes, a lappet (lap-whippet), a pocket lurcher…’ I reply, tongue in cheek (you see she’s forgotten to grow).

‘Of course’ they murmur without looking up ‘Of course’.

It’s quite hopeless really. Robert’s naturally researched the condition and has reached the conclusion that she oozes oxytocins– the cuddle factor (it just can’t be us – going soft in the head).

Willow is very okay!

Willow

Willow

On Monday, as I was busily trying to clear umptytiddlyone important-must-be-done-immediately stacks of paper on my desk, Ginny decided to calve – at last. She was two weeks late and though not unusual in my herd I was a little concerned as there have been rumours that Bluetongue vaccination can cause problems to the unborn calf; though I suspect this would be at a much earlier stage in the pregnancy.

As she decided to calve at a convenient time – in daylight, during the morning, in fine weather and in the shade of an oak tree almost under my office window – I was able to take photos of her during the entire labour.

Particularly interesting is the interaction between Ginny and Imogen. Being together, away from the main herd since turnout, they have settled well, formed a strong bond and have shown no distress; a little unusual as they are not from the same dam or cohort and were not closely connected within the herd.

Normally a cow, free-ranging in a grazing herd, will take herself off to an isolated secluded spot to calve, but Ginny positively encouraged Imogen’s company; so much so it reminded me of human birthing partners!

She lies down to begin pushing contractions

contractions are strong and rhythmic

the waters burst – she cleans up

nearing the end

the most enormous heifer calf – seconds old!

introductions are made – this is unusual behaviour, generally the freshly calved cow will see off any intruders.

first wobbly steps – searching for the teat

bliss!


Locks Park Farm

Thanks for visiting my blog. All entries are presented in chronological order.

I have a small organic farm on the Culm grasslands near Hatherleigh in Devon, with sheep and beef cattle. I've been farming in the county for more than 30 years. I've set up this blog to share views on farming and the countryside - please do give your thoughts.

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The Campaign to Protect Rural England has helped set up this blog. We want farming to thrive in England, and believe that it is essential that people understand farming and farmers better in order for that to happen. Paula's views expressed here are her own and we won't necessarily share all of them, but we're happy to have helped give her a voice.

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