A new arrival

It's been a nail-biting few weeks here on Fliskmillan Farm. The bull first ran with the cows on 16th June last year, which meant that calves should have started popping out around 16th March. The day came and none of the girls even looked like they wanted to pop. A week on, still nothing. Ten days, forget it.

I've been checking them every day, of course. Three or four times a day. They are all in a large field on the north side of the hill. I'd not checked them first thing this morning - getting a bit blasé about the non-appearance of anything small, but my neighbour out walking her dogs noticed something not quite right in the field and phoned me. I whizzed up on the quad bike to find this.

Is it a teddy bear?

He, for he is a boy calf, was up and trotting - if a little unsteady - behind his mum. She is Margaret Fay Shaw 1st of Inchmarnock, or Maggie-Fay for short. Highland cows tend to have rather complicated and long-winded names - a tradition I will doubtless irritate many people by refusing to follow. As yet, however, the calf remains nameless.

Happy Families!

Mother and child both seem to be doing well. Fergus Ruadh, the bull, looks a little bewildered. Given that it's not his third birthday until Tuesday, I'm not surprised. Still, at least he hasn't been firing blanks all year.

The first thing a new-born calf has to cope with, of course, is the heavy weight of bureaucracy. All calves have to be double-tagged so that they can be easily identified. The primary tag has to be readable from a distance - not easy with something as shaggy as a Highland - and so it is rather big. In Scotland we now have mandatory testing of all calves for BVD*, too, so one of the ear tags catches a small sample to be sent off to the lab for testing. I thought this was going to be very traumatic, with Maggie-Fay trying to skewer me  as I wrestled with a feisty young bullock anxious not to have its ears pierced. As it happened, my first hands-on experience of tagging a calf was pretty painless, if a little noisy.

One in each ear. Ouch.

So there we have it: the first true member of the Fliskmillan Fold. Farming is finally starting to happen.

* Bovine Virus Diarrhoea, not the underwear brand. That would be weird. Cows in Keks!


terlee said…
Congratulations!! And what a handsome lad--except for his new earrings, poor thing. Heelan Coos are my favorite creatures.
Gabriele C. said…
Aww, he's a cutie. Let's hope for a bunch more of his likes. And some girls, of course. :)
LawDog0714 said…
Hi James Oswald, I just finished reading Natural Causes. Great book. Interesting attention to detail. I am a veteran law enforcement officer in the U.S. Spent several years as an inspector investigating violent crime. Your Inspector McLean is dead on in his methodology and thinking. I don't know who your muse was but he or she must have been a grand detective. Good job can't wait to read the next one. Bye the way love Scotland...been there twice coming back to visit Dornock next summer.
JamesO said…
Thanks LawDog - glad to hear you enjoyed the book. To be honest, my muse is mostly the works of other crime writers, plus a healthy dose of thinking it through the way I'd break down a problem. Perhaps I should have been a police officer!

Enjoy Dornoch. I used to spend summers around there - my Dad's from those parts.

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