We passed all the checks although the inspector was unhappy that our Sussex bull was ‘too isolated’ in his spacious bull pen with its 180 degree views of the cattle yard where his ‘ladies’ were housed, just 25 paces away. He considered that it was, “important for the bull to be in the cattle yard with the cows and able to ‘socialise’.”
David, the stockman at the time, attempted to explain that there are practical reasons for not leaving a bull with the cattle all year round. These include the matter of keeping a tight calving index, which is why he spent just a number of months with them out at pasture during the summer, and that keeping a bull loose in the cattle shed during the winter months, is not in the best interest of the stockman, for health and safety reasons. None of this appeared to register as significant with the inspector.
I am reminded of this incident whilst listening to the stories of families being denied access to loved ones confined to care homes. It appears that we give more consideration to the animal kingdom and our livestock, than to mere mortals, let alone family members.
Some care homes banned all family visits for months on end during the first lockdown, and many did not relax the ban during the summer when they could have. It is of course important to keep residents safe from Corvid 19, but I believe that where there’s a will there’s a way. This is clear when you hear of the many cases where managers have been prepared to go the extra mile to ensure that those in their care have been reunited with their loved ones.
We all know of couples who have been kept apart and faced months of isolation which has caused them deep distress. Particularly those who have been married for decades and are now in their twilight years. There are many stories of relatives not being allowed to enter the grounds of care homes, even to wave through windows.
I am impressed by many stories where families have taken things into their own hands and made arrangements to rescue their elderly relatives from homes where the rules became too draconian and unbearable.
Some of these breakouts have been mentioned in the press and media, many have remained untold. All have been done with the very best intention so their loved ones can be re-united with spouses and families.
My old friend the late Pat Reid and his comrades who’s notorious escape from Colditz is legendary, would have been full of admiration for these intrepid plans for escape. It is a pity they have been necessary.
We should all be asking why it is considered unacceptable for a bull to spend his days gazing at his harem of cows from his spacious pen rather than be amongst them, but apparently quite acceptable for mere humans to be denied any contact from their family and friends for months on end.
The weather has remained mild and reasonably dry making it possible for us, like many other livestock farms to leave cattle out in the fields. This time last year they had already been in for at least two months. The rain begun in September and did not stop until March, making it impossible to leave livestock out in the fields sloshing around in the mud.
These dry days make it possible leave them out as long as possible, thus saving precious straw which we are short of due to the poor harvest. They are looking well on their diet of grass, hay, fresh air and exercise.
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