Winter is a time of intense activity with the cattle. I feed them at dawn and dusk, and when the weather is severe I take them into the byre for shelter. The byre then gets a deep clean so that we are ready for calving. As the due dates approach, the cattle come into to the byre at night so I can check on them every few hours. This means getting up at 3am. On cloudless nights the stars are out in full force and it makes the sleep deprivation worthwhile. Summer is an easier time, with plenty of grass on the croft.
At the moment the croft is having a break, with just Emma and Oona (who were both born in April 2021) grazing on the land.
Oona is head cow (even in a fold of 2 there is always a head cow). She is curious and always on the look out for anything new. She can be quite aloof at times, but she does like a good neck and under the chin comb when she's in the right mood.
Emma is very friendly and loves to be combed. She will follow you about the croft waiting for attention. She is a gentle animal with a lovely nature, which is just as well because she is very powerfully built.
Oona & Emma as calves in summer 2021.
The cattle have two coats – a soft short undercoat that they keep all year, and a long hairy top coat that keeps them warm and dry in winter, but is shed in summer. The iconic image of a highland cow tends to feature this long topcoat, so it may come as a surprise when you see highland cattle that are kept in warmer climates, as they will not have their distinctive topcoat. At the bottom of this page you will see a photograph of Cara in her summer coat which shows how much they shed in the warmer months. The hair shed from their topcoats does not go to waste: the birds pick up the strands and weave them into nests. This nest was nestling in the branches of one of my rose shrubs.