Jumping cattle, balsam and Skye...

Emma Heseltine - 23 June 2013

Today we are trying to get some of the cattle in because one is off to Lockerbie this week. Trouble is we have got some of Duncan at Sliver Lea’s little store cattle grazing one of our fields (we have a lot of grass). We have to get the black cattle in the small field so we can get the Longhorns past them without chaos. This proves somewhat difficult as the black cattle don’t know us, don’t know the field and are a tiny bit wild.

After 15 minutes of fruitlessly chasing them up and down the fence line with no luck they decide they have had enough and two jump into the hedge. As fed up with the whole idea as they are I go find a hammer to knock out some slats to let them out. By the time I come back they have jumped out again, trashing the fence. I’ve had enough, let just walk our Longhorns through them, which we do, with no problems. I think we need to let these guys settle down a bit before trying anymore manoeuvres.

We are attacking the weeds at Wallacefield. First its time to get the scythes out and get rid of some of the thistles and nettles that are sprouting up everywhere. We are working on orchid field which is pretty steep, muddy and has a stream running through it, no machines down here. It’s quite a hot day so after a bit of melting we decide to have a break in the trees and pull some Himalayan balsam.

The balsam is quite a nice looking plant but it’s not native, is incredibly aggressive in its seed production and distribution (the pods explode) and has a tendency to drown out the native plants. You see it along the river banks mainly and we have the river Eden at the bottom of the farm where it is creeping in. Thankfully it is pretty easy to remove; it pulls out with a pop. The only trouble we have is that it is growing with a great big bunch of nettles. We manage to get quite a bit out, with some swearing and stinging. It’s a beautiful spot by the river, I do love working down here!

On Sunday I am checking on the cattle at Aglionby, we have had a couple of lambs stuck this week so I want to have a close look at them. It’s terrible to see a sheep struck, any dirty wool attracts flies that lay their eggs, then the maggots then proceed to munch the sheep alive. This warm wet weather is perfect conditions for the flies. I’m suspicious of one lamb, it looks pretty dirty. Best check it to be safe, I’ve brought the dogs along just in case. Skye will work for me, if I don’t ask him to do anything complicated and there is nobody else about. I’m amazed at how well we manage to work today though; he gets the sheep in the pen pronto, responding with great accuracy to my shouts. Well done Skye! Turns out the lamb is fine, I dag it and turf them out. I’m glad it’s alright, now to find those cheeky cattle…

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.

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