Posted by Mark on Thursday, 8 September 2016
At our previous house in Suffolk we considered that we lived in the country, we were on the outskirts of the village of Long Melford ( pop 3,500 ) and the meadows were just behind us with a short walk to them anytime we wanted. Now in Orkney we are not only living in the country again but right in it! Next to us are fields and when the grass in them has grown enough, then cows are moved in complete with their calves and a rather large and splendid bull. From time to time these beasts seem to get bored with their diet of Orkney grass and lean over our dry stone wall to help themselves to whatever vegetation they can reach. As it happens we don’t have anything growing the other side that we are particularly fond of, so the random pruning of these plants is not an issue although at times the over stretching of a cows neck will knock a bit of the wall down so I have to go out and put the stones back. I have applied to go on a dry stone wall building course this year so I know a bit more of what I am supposed to do. We do have a nice chap who has rebuilt a large section of the wall that had fallen down before we moved in, but for some reason he is very busy on the island!
Our office side windows overlook one of these fields and it is quite disconcerting to suddenly see a couple of very large cows looking in only a few feet away! I was woken the other night during a bit of a storm by a cow bellowing loudly just outside the bedroom window, yes the main bedroom windows face the field! The other Sunday whilst I was watching the Grand Prix there was a knock on the door, I was not expecting any visitors. When I answered the door it was a passing motorist asking if I knew who might own the cow that was wandering down the road causing the nearest thing to a traffic jam that we get on the island. I directed him to one of the several farms in the area as, unless it has an engine or a processor, my skills would be rather limited in the task of moving this animal back into the field that it belongs to.
Living this close, in fact not close, but within the countryside has meant that both Anna and I have become much more aware of the changes throughout the year, I don’t just mean the seasons, that is not nearly a fine enough distinction for all the changes that go on, not only with the farm life around here but also the wildlife, at the moment you can almost set you watch by the flocks of Geese flying in for the evening ( 5 pm if you want to know ), Orkney whilst it has a resident population of geese, is inundated in the winter with some 20,000 individuals. Geese burgers and sausages appear at one of the butchers on the island at this time of year, I wonder why?