calvesLast season was wonderful in terms of reconnecting the old friendships I had with the girls and I’m sure most of them remembered me (I know it’s nothing to do with the bucket I am carrying or the bulging pockets … really it isn’t) and their personalities shone through as we began our milking venture together.

There is Honey – she is my favourite. Honey won’t leave the yard until she has had a cuddle and a bottom scratch … in fact you can’t get her to do anything until she has had a cuddle and a bottom scratch. Gentle Eve is a sweet wee girl who is just that – gentle in every way, whereas Kiri is a great big lump of a cow. Kiri is a delight to work with and hasn’t a mean bone in her body but she is rather like a rudderless barge at times and she can give you some narrow squeaks as she lumbers through the milking shed. Blossom is a bit shy but can be easily bribed with food, Dimple loves to sniff and lick no matter what, Samantha would be one of the most honest cows you would ever want to own, and then there is Mrs Wobble-a-Lot and Mrs Grumpy-a-Lot (for obvious reasons).

On the other side, there is Peppermint. It is interesting which cows you learn the names of first. It is the same as being a teacher with a new class – which kids make the biggest impression – the naughty ones and, if there is any trouble anywhere on the farm, it will be traced back to Peppermint. She knows her name well and many is the time she gets roared at. “PEPPERMINT … OUT OF THERE!” “PEPPERMINT … MOVE!” “PEPPERMINT … NOT THAT WAY!” I am fortunate though as she understands English quite well and she responds to French very quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I do love her lots especially as she extracts herself from whatever she is up to and passes a look of ‘bugger … sprung again’ in my direction.

Because most of the fencing is still nowhere near where it should be (in terms of doing what fencing is supposed to do and keeping the cows where they are supposed to be) several of the girls tend to make their own arrangements. There is not much I can do about it and when it comes to gathering the herd up for milking I have to rely on them to make their way back through the bits of dodgy fence lines. As I round up the main group of girls and wander back to the milking shed with them I do a check … have I got Kiri, has Sweetdream turned up, are Kapai and Milady there? If they are in the mob, then I usually have a full head count. Even so, I will keep scanning back over my shoulder to see if Penpal and Mermaid have realised it is milking time, have extracted themselves from the bushes down by the creek and are scurrying through the trees and the drains trying to catch up.

It has come around to the time when I need to give the new calves their names and, like the teacher, I have some established already. There is Brandysnap, Mischief and Ratbag followed closely by Greedy Guts and Pushy Pig. But there is also Sweetie Pie, Smooch and Sunshine. These are probably not the names appropriate to use on their pedigree pages but it is a start. I shall have to do some creative thinking over the next few days.

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