This time of year is the calm before the inevitable storm of harvest; everything is sown, cows are outside, grass is cut and spraying up to date.
This means it’s a good chance for me and Dad to have a break from the farm and each other. We are very lucky as we get on exceedingly well and, if I was being cheesy, I would call him my best friend.
However, after working non-stop since Christmas, it’s safe to say we could use a break.
We take it in turns to take time away as, having cattle, someone always has to be home to feed what is inside.
The first few times Dad left me in charge I found the responsibility terrifying. The reason for this, and it might just be my experience, is as soon as he steps foot off the yard something is bound to go wrong.
In the past few years I have dealt with the unexpected: life, death, illness, breakdowns, escaping cows, trespassing teenagers, the police and the fire brigade. It’s safe to say I now feel prepared for pretty much anything and the responsibility is no longer daunting.
The most stressful day I was in charge came at the hooves of a waterborne Ayrshire bullock. All our cattle are grazed on marshes so it is not surprising that this lad took a dip. However, the chaos that ensued was incredible.
My day started with a phone call off Dad telling me that ‘someone had rung to say there is a bullock stuck on the marsh and it is probably nothing, but take the Defender and go check’.
I was greeted on the marsh by two fire engines and a fire and rescue van. I could clearly see this mass gathering of men in uniform, not a woman among them, so with my head down I walked out to meet them.
It turns out our bullock had become a training exercise for both Lancashire and Merseyside fire departments.
As I approached, I could feel the hostility of the men who clearly had better things to do with their Sunday.
Their moods didn’t improve when I pointed out they were trying to pull him out on the wrong side so he would just jump back in to get to his mates. They had managed to get a halter around his neck which was now choking him. It was obvious that to get him out, we had to get the halter off.
I rang my sister’s boyfriend – an ag mechanic – to bring a tractor. Once the tractor arrived the firemen started directing all their questions at said sister’s boyfriend because, obviously, a lad would know what to do.
This was the final straw for me. The red mist descended and I backed the tractor to the gully attached the rope, pulled the bullock out, jumped out the tractor and got the bullock in a head lock, trying to remove the halter as I watched these brave men run, metaphorically, for the hills.
I got the halter off and sent him on his way, only to be greeted by the open-mouthed firemen. I curtsied and thanked them for their help.