Friday, 22 November 2013

Cows' Week - no, NOT Cowes Week - Cow's Week

I am married to a very odd girl. Generally speaking, she likes “small”. If we are eating out she will always ask for a small portion and if - in a moment of misguided generosity - she is given a plate filled with food her appetite immediately evaporates. She likes small corners, too - usually writes in a small corner and did so even when she had a splendid study. One of her “small” things is a beautiful cut-glass wine glass which belonged to her mother. It holds less than half a normal wine glass but she is quite happy with that and uses it whenever we have lunch at home. Now, after all these years, it has developed a crack and so next time we find ourselves in Totnes on market day, I shall be on the lookout for a replacement. Fingers crossed.

However, there are some things that she likes which are far from small: the obvious example is her love of Newfoundland dogs. There is another big animal that has been a part of our lives for many years: highland cattle. When I say "part of our lives" please do not get the idea that we have ever owned one of these magnificent beasts or anything like that. No, our involvement has been passive: simply watching and enjoying them. Back in the day the only place I remember seeing them was in the fields then farmed by the prisoners at H M Prison at Princetown on Dartmoor.

The prison farm was started about two hundred years ago and covered about one thousand six hundred acres and provided work for about sixty prisoners. It was a stock farm with something in the order of eight hundred ewes and four hundred head of cattle of which about a quarter was a milking herd. This herd supplied the prison and the factory at Lifton where Ambrosia creamed rice is produced which took over two hundred gallons of milk every day. There were also Blue Greys, Galloways and (for milking) Friesians.

Then, to my dismay, I learned that this activity was to cease and all the highland cattle would be sold off. That was nearly ten years ago but I need not have worried. Now, instead of being confined in fields these Highlanders are free to roam the moors and, as you would expect, they are supremely suited to that environment. Since their release (if that is the right word), I have taken a couple of hundred photographs of them and I thought it was time to share seven of them: one for every day of cows’ week! 

Oh, I also have nearly as many of the gorgeous Belted Galloways as well but they will have to wait for another day.

You keep watch down the hill while I ...