This Sunday is Mothering Sunday so I thought a story about a mother's love would be a good start to your week-end.
We are great friends with the farmer who lives opposite us and in the Summer when we share jobs like haymaking and silaging we see a lot of each other. But in the Winter months we rarely see Geoffrey as the farm house is three fields away from our lane. The only time he and the farmer meet is when they both arrive at the paper shop to collect the morning newspaper at the same time.
Thus it was yesterday that they met in the lay by outside the shop and had a chat. And this is the story we heard:-
Geoffrey does not have a milking herd, he has a suckler herd. For anyone who doesn't know, this is a herd of cows who have calves and keep them 'at foot' until they are teenagers when they are sold on - either for breeding or for beef. In the Winter this herd is kept indoors and it is during this period that many of them calve.
A couple of months ago a cow calved twins, both nice big calves and healthy. A couple of hours later, when Geoffrey went to look at her one of the calves was missing; it had been 'stolen' by another cow and taken to the far side of the shed where she was suckling it contentedly. Geoffrey removed it and took it back to its mother, but each time he did this the cow stole the calf again until finally its real mother refused to have it back. So the cow kept its adopted calf and everything settled back to normal.
Last week this cow also calved a lovely, healthy little calf. So now she has two calves - one a biggish, gangly thing almost three months old and one new-born. She seems happy to suckle both - one either side, and the original mother seems to have forgotten all about it.
This extra-strong maternal instinct seems particularly strong in cows. I have mentioned before how our cow - number 55 - always stole any newborn calf born out in the field. And a friend told me this morning of a white cow she knew some years ago who was always around at a birth and would slope off with the new calf given half a chance.