Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Lookering

Not a word many people are familiar with, lookering is the art (or is it a science?) of keeping a look out for other people's livestock; checking for ailments, lack of water or grazing, and knowing when to alert the owner. If a farmer keeps their cattle on someone else's land and has agreed that the landowner will peer at the animals daily, they know their beasts are getting a regular once-over from someone with a bit of nous, so don't need to visit the site so often, particularly if it is some distance away from their own land.
So today a drive through some unknown local lanes to a course on conservation grazing run by the Devon Wildlife Trust. It wasn't the lookering I was specifically interested in, but the chance to find out something, in knowledgeable company, about caring for cattle. A gentle way in to test my interest and potential commitment to keeping a few of my own and to keep the culm in good order. When the cob barn is restored it could house a number of cattle over winter, and if that is just a year or so away, planning and thinking is needed.
After a morning of discussion and learning on topics as beautifully named as zoonoses, cudding, bulling and locomotion (nought to do with Kylie and everything to do with movement) we went to see some real Devon Ruby cattle. They were on a very steep pasture and came to their owner in response to a waving of hay. One was put into the cattle crush for a few minutes so we could take a look at handling techniques and get a close-up of the signs of good health.
Glorious animals, the most rich of chestnuts - permanently autumnal - with a thick furry coat which makes them very hardy. They are not a large breed but are still enormous to someone only familiar with sheep. I was most enamoured. I need to find out more.

10 comments:

mountainear said...

What beautiful cattle! They deserve exclamations!!! The bull (on the link) is a real handsome hunk.

Our only reservation about having them on our lumpy 5 acres is the amount of 'poaching' we get in the spring and autumn. Small price to pay?

Eurodog said...

We saw some beautiful specimen in Morwenstow. A herd with one enormous bull. My dog was on the lead but quite frisky and I felt quite unsure of things when the bull came over to the fence to check us out.

Winchester whisperer said...

Yes - you must buy some. They are beautiful

GeraniumCat said...

Beautiful creatures - what a colour!

Mopsa said...

Yes, aren't they lovely?

M'ear - you could just let out the grass for the summer months...

Eurowoof - the trainer (a cattle farmer and breeder of bulls) was VERY specific that dogs and cattle do not mix.

WW - you never know!

Gcat - just lovely

Hannah Velten said...

I learnt two things reading your post - what 'lookering' was, and what a 'culm' is - seems that you are the master of country ways (what with the sheep throwing on Field Day aswell!)...What a wonderful breed Devons are - one of our best British creations...

Mopsa said...

Hannah - that is very nice of you, but I am London born and bred and just trying to learn as much as I can now that I have given my heart to rural ways! It all started in the early 1980's when I moved to a damp dairy on a lovely farm in Warwickshire.....

paula said...

Not that small...I've a cow who's not far off a tonne.

Mopsa said...

They all look huge to me, Paula... very wary of my toes.

'Larry Looker' said...

cattle and dogs get on fine once they respect each other and marsh Pennywort loves a bit of poaching!