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Good Evans: They just ring the pub when the cows get out

Insights

It seems Roger Evans, too, is not over the moon about his levy board’s deduction, but in the nick of time to take his mind off such fiscally onerous matters are his escapee cows.

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This month Roger Evans gets distracted from his levy money dismay by escapee cows... #dairy

It is inevitable, when we have to scrutinise our every cost, that a part of that scrutiny should focus on the money that is deducted from us by our levy board.


There seems to be widespread dissatisfaction with the levy boards, across all sectors, at present. The fundamental flaw, as I see it, is that the levy payers, you and me, have absolutely no say in the composition of the farmers who sit on the board. The farmers who sit on the board are chosen.


The dairy levy board has an agenda so they only choose farmers who agree with that agenda to sit on the board with them. If there were elections to the board, I soon think we would see a difference. I think the people who pay the money have a basic right to have a say in this. That we don’t have that right is a disgrace. Elected members would have to answer to the electorate, at present they don’t answer to anyone.


Most levy payers have differing views on how the money should be spent. That’s why the board can choose to do the options that suit them. How would I like mine spent? I’d rather spend it myself – it would buy a nice big load of sand for the cubicles.


We’ve got this field next to our main road and for some reason the cows find the foliage on the hedge particularly tasty. It’s so tasty that, although there is an electric fence against the hedge, their browsing activity takes them through the hedge and onto the road. It’s not a big deal, it’s only usually a couple of times a year, the only downside to it is that it’s usually late at night. The upside is there is a cottage close at hand and the friend of mine who lives there is soon on the phone to let us know.

The couple of times it’s happened this year it’s been at about 11pm. Now, here’s the thing, he doesn’t phone here, he phones the pub, and he tells the landlord “will you tell Roger his cows are on the road”. And here’s another thing, both times he’s phoned the pub, I’ve been there. So that’s ok, I soon gather a car load to help put the cows back in. In fact, my fellow farmers/drinkers are so interested in witnessing my misfortune and to help that they get the cows back in without me getting out of the car. But it’s only sort of ok. Why does my neighbour always assume I will be in the pub? Even if I am.


I know I’ve reported this elsewhere, but there have been reports locally of dairy cattle let out onto roads deliberately. Recently, at 9pm on a Sunday night, the keeper phoned to say our dry cows and heifers were out on the road. They were in a field, or they were supposed to be in a field, we had cut for silage three times, so there is a fair growth of tough grass around the outside. There are two, 10-foot gates into this field that fasten in the middle, and in order to open them fully you have to push the gates over this tough older grass. That’s how they were, and that’s how I know it was done deliberately. There is local evidence it is the work of vegans.


The implications of letting cattle out onto roads at night are horrendous. Not only are the cattle at risk of serious injury or death, this could also happen to humans. In the worst case scenario you could be looking at manslaughter charges. We’ve got chains around and locks on the gates now. Something I never thought I’d have to do.


This is a late harvest story. I don’t know why it has taken so long to get through. The story starts at the other side of our local town.

 

There’s a trunk road and a main railway line run through the town and I remember my vet telling me, years ago, that as TB spread through his practice, it faltered for a year at these two important, busy transport conduits. The implications being they were a barrier to infected wildlife movement.


I can fully understand that but I never thought a main road and a railway line would be a barrier to gossip. Anyway, this farmer has bought a field of straw away from home. He bales it with his round baler and when he is finished, he packs the baler up for transport and replenishes the string. There’s most of the next bale in the chamber so he ejects that and sets off home. For some reason the string left a trail of blue wriggings for six miles. It went two miles up the trunk road and through two villages.


There’s something of the Hansel and Gretel about it, although they used bread but that was eaten by the birds. Blue plastic string would have served them much better!

 

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