Encountering Cows between Cilcain and Offa
by Helen Southall, Chester
I think I may have met some cattle who were used to associating people in their field with 'dinner time', rather like Barbara's sheep (see Sheep Rustling - but not as we know it).
I've done the same walk twice in the Cilcain area of North Wales in the last fortnight (long story - some other time!).
On the first occasion, one particular field which the path passes through was occupied by sheep, who did the usual sheep thing of running away if I got too close, but mostly just baa-ing and concentrating on the grass.
When I arrived this Saturday however, the thoroughly unthreatening sheep had been replaced by a bunch of 20 or 30 young Fresian steers.
When I saw them I wasn't too worried, as it was a big field and the cattle were a long way away. However, just as I reached a fence and stile half way across, they noticed me. Four or five came cantering towards me, moo-ing enthusiastically, and pretty soon I was standing on the stile, surrounding by big hairy beasts who I swear would have been wearing hoodies and low-slung jeans (and probably a desperate attempt at designer stubble) had they been human.
They seemed curious rather than threatening, but I didn't fancy walking in among them as I was on my own and the other side of the field was a good 200 yards away. So I stood up straight, looked anyone who came too close firmly in the eye, and waved my walking poles at them occasionally.
This went on for a good 10-15 minutes.
Eventually, the sound of grass being chomped indicated that at least some of them had decided I wasn't the most interesting thing in the field any more, and a few minutes later more heads were down than up, so I took the opportunity to hop down off of the stile (still waving my sticks) and beat a hasty retreat towards the stile at the far side of the field, giving the cattle a wide berth while still trying to look as nonchalant as possible.
I was very pleased to put the stile and fence and another few hundred yards between them and me!
I was interested in Barbara's sheep story because although I've encountered (and been followed by) curious young cattle before, I've never had them come running over to me in a gang like this. As they weren't there 10 days previously they were obviously new to that field, and may not have encountered many people before other than the farmer who fed them.
They did look a bit confused, which may just be situation normal for adolescent cattle, but it may be that they were expecting something more interesting (and edible) than a woman standing on a stile waving sticks at them!
I hope that's the answer, anyhow, otherwise I'll be doing some very long detours round fields full of cattle in future . . .
“For more information about walking through fields of cows and cattle see How to stay safe when walking and hiking through fields of cows”
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