Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Thursday, 10 March 2011

My Meaty Beefy Big and Bouncy jogging partner...a Limousin Bull

Whenever the happy farmer exits to the mainland I seem to get flung in at the deep end on the farm and you can guarantee that is the time when everything seems to go a little bit pear-shaped.

I set off across the fields for a run with the sheepdog, having packed the children off to school at some unearthly hour. I was happily jogging along, lost in my thoughts, the rain very refreshing and the rich vibrant colours of the landscape good for the soul, when I was abruptly brought back into the moment as I was confronted by a very large jogging partner of ginormous proportions, just over the other side of a very small dry stone dyke from me. A stocky Limousin bull was travelling alongside on the single track road going at a fair pace, obviously enjoying his freedom, as he had an excited and threatening bounce to his jogging step. Panic took over, I quickly turned, and fled, the jog becoming a sprint any long distance runner would be proud of, back down the slope and out of sight. Fumbling wildly in my pockets I found my mobile phone and sent an instant distress signal to the happy farmer on the mainland. A few seconds later and my jogging partner was identified as one bull belonging to Farmer T.
The advice given in response to my SOS message was to run back to the farmhouse, whilst being careful to avoid said bull. I took off at some pace, scaling a barbed wire fence and heading into the bracken, a bit of a big diversion, but I did not want to draw attention to myself or the sheepdog, which for some reason was pinned to my heel. Trying to sprint through bracken is quite a skilful technique, one I haven’t quite mastered yet. I could no longer see my jogging partner but as my feet kept getting tangled in the roots of the bracken I suddenly realised that the field gate I would be heading for was open, and said bull could well be making his way into the field to confront me, or at the very least our paths could cross as I had to venture across the single track road he was bounding along, to access the farmhouse.

I sensibly decided to abandon the happy farmer’s advice, after all he really could not appreciate the extreme danger I was facing, indeed he did not seem to understand what all of the fuss was about, but had dutifully promised to contact Farmer T to get him to come and claim back his prized animal. I meanwhile abandoned the field of bracken and re traced my steps heading in the opposite direction to the bull, and raced through the fields to my parents’ cottage, darting across streams and hillocks, trying to keep my balance and maintain an athlete’s pace as I avoided the track, just in case my jogging partner had decided to follow suit, cursing the country way of life as I went, wishing I was back in the concrete jungle and safety of the city.
I arrived, a sweaty, heaving blob, having abandoned the sheepdog, somewhere in the fields, to fend alone against any impending dangers.
I was greeted with a cup of coffee and a chance to regain my composure, before I headed home, having borrowed my parents’ car. I cautiously drove back up the single track road to the farmhouse hoping I was not going to have a collision with my jogging partner.

All seemed quiet. There was no sign of the bull as I ran like lightening from car to house. I ran up the stairs to get an aerial view of the farm to see if I could spy either the missing sheepdog, or the trespassing bull. No sign of the sheepdog, but to my horror, beside the trampoline, in the back garden, at a happy standstill was the bull, grazing away contentedly. Another mercy call to the happy farmer, now in a mainland city away from the perils of the country, and I was reassured that Farmer T was in fact on his way to rescue the bull from the terrorised farmer’s wife so country life could return to some kind of peace and tranquillity.

 I gingerly made my way across to the cottages to warn our guests that there was a bull on the loose and that they should keep their youngsters indoors until Farmer T and his ‘pest control’ lorry had been. The cottage people informed me that they had had an entertaining morning. They relayed the joys of country living to me and remarked how lovely it had been to wake up to the sight of what they had considered to be a pet bull in our front garden first thing in the morning, munching away on the grass, and where else in the world would you wake up to such a sight. Good job I had been blissfully unaware of that as my teenagers made their way out across the farm yard to the school bus first thing then.

Sometime later, the rescue party arrived in the form of a big float, transportation for the enemy, and Farmer T with a bucket of food. The bull of course followed Farmer T into that float like a pet dog, far better behaved than missing sheepdog, and was duly transported away back to Farmer T’s pastures.

When the rain clouds gave way to sunshine later on, I was out and about again, in the happy farmers ever so big wellingtons, waterproof trousers held up by ‘hoicking’ the elastic over my shoulder, feeding hens and chasing the sheepdog back to barracks, and once again country life seemed more appealing. The happy farmer was not off the hook though, as the children and I made our way to the village store for sweets, there was a cow, on a neighbouring farm, lying at a funny angle with a calf half born, obviously in some discomfort. I stopped myself from clambering over the fence to give her a hand, as if I could, instead I sent another mayday signal to the happy farmer on the mainland who gave a call a farmer to go to the ‘poor cow’s’ rescue….you never do fully escape your work….

Luckily a mobile phone allows the happy farmer to jump regularly to his poor cow’s rescue!!

Until next time…


Norma Murray said...

Oh Rosie, what an exciting life you lead way out on your island. As one who is rather nervous of cows, let alone a bull, I admire your fortitude. We have a large Charolais cross who has his summer quarters in a field not far from where I live, no way will I use the footpath when he is there, no matter how often I am told he's perfectly safe all the time he's with his cows.

Posie said...

Norma, I am the same as you. I am not happy being in the vicinity of cows at all. The children and the happy farmer go to feed our Highlanders together and the children clap the Highland bull as he is apparently a 'gentleman', needless to say I never take them up on the offer of going along on the feeding rounds.

bayou said...

Wonderful telling, dear Rosie :-) What a piece of meat is that - unbelievably strong. How lucky that your parents are living nearby and you could borrow the car. When did the dog come back? P.S. I bought a book called Whisky legends of Islay. Will I encounter you in it? ;-)
Cute new photo, those are not hebridean sheep, are they Islay sheep?
Continuing my de-clutter now with a big smile on my face. Thank you!

Pondside said...

I'm completely out of breath after that! You had an exciting day - way more dangerous than any day in the concrete jungle!

Posie said...

Bayou - the dog took absolutely ages to come back, I think he took full advantage of the situation and went off in search of a rabbit hole, having been abandoned by his owner:-)
Don't know if I am a whisky legend ha ha but my other half might well be there :-) They are cross sheep, not literally, but a mix of black face and blue face Leicester.
Best wishes x

Posie said...

Pondside, not as out of breath as I was, I spent my run lamenting as to why I ever decided to ditch city life for rural life with a farmer!! Of course once I was safely home all was forgiven, I just wish I had taken a photo of the bull b the trampoline, it really was quite surreal.

Fennie said...

Well there's an exciting story and you tell it so well. I feel almost as breathless as you must have been.
But what are Limousin bulls like? Are the docile and cuddly like Herefords or vicious as fighting bulls? I know Friesians are particularly bad. There's so much weight on a Limousin that I wonder their little legs don't just sink into the ground and I pity the state of your poor lawn. He looks a handsome animal though. Yet a long way from his home in the Limousin. Have you no thought to buy a Salers cow (as my avatar)? They give milk that makes excellent cheese besides having beautiful horns.

jane said...

OH Posie I am totally out of breath after reading your blog - it must have been heavy going jogging through that bracken - but what wonderful pics - and your header pic is a dream x

MILLY said...

Good job you can run fast! I wouldn't fancy going any where near one of those huge bulls.
Glad to hear about your beach clean up, so much rubbish is brought in with the tides.
Life is never dull at your island.

Thedarkerside73 said...

Wow who said country life was quiet or uneventful. The way you tell the event leave me quite breathless! Poor you! A surreal picture in my head now a bull taking it easy by the trampoline.

Glad that the your school was saved! And is no longer on any list. Long may it last. It sounds like a wonderful place for young people to learn and grow.


Chris Stovell said...

OMG!!! I will NEVER complain about JRTs, pheasants or even runaway horses ever again! You win! Love the comment about the pet bull in the garden; not exactly my idea of a pet. Joking aside, I'm glad you were shaken and not stirred by that encounter - it's rattled my cage just reading about it!

potterjotter said...

Its never a dull moment up there! Are all Hebridean Sheep Farms as hectic as this?

Frances said...

Posie, comments before this one have said what I would have wanted to express.

Let me just applaud your bravery, quick thinking, taking a mobile on your morning walk, and ...being so fit and able to move ... really fast, when needed.

Your farmer has got a fabulous wife! xo

Maggie Christie said...

That was really scary - until the bull appeared by the trampoline, at which point I laughed quite a bit. Lims are quite placid and a lovely colour too. But not, perhaps, the ideal jogging partner!

Molly said...

Posie that bullish encounter sounded really scary! I'm sure you did the right thing using your own common sense. You never know with these animals! Pet bull? Is there such a thing? Hope that little calf arrived safely into the world!

Anonymous said...

And that is why I live in Sussex and not the Hebrides...we very rarely get rampaging bulls although badgers are a bit of a problem...particularly when you have to swerve to miss them when you're late for school...

Posie said...

Fennie - I am not sure what Limousin bulls are like because I have a rule of never going near any bulls...or cows..but he did seem quite docile when Farmer T arrived to collect him, and he did look a bit of a pet chomping away by the trampoline. I don't know of any Salers cows in Scotland, buying them may be difficult here.
J - glad you like the header pic, it was two pet lambs from the other year.
Milly - same here
MMB- I know I thought when I came to live here it would be a slow quiet pace of life, not so...
Chris -Rattled my cage too Chris, lovely to catch up with you here.
PJ - I am not sure, but I think so, farm life here is very unpredictable
Frances - ahh thank you for that lovely lovely comment
Maggs - I got the shock of my life when I saw it by the trampoline, and then the cottage people thinking it was our pet...yikes
Molly - the calf arrived safely without needing a vet
Lottie we have no badgers or moles on the island...now did you say you were wanting a pet bull???