May on the Farm

Richard Fonge writes:

We are all thankful for the warmer weather after one of the latest wet and cold Springs for many a year. Because of the weather, Spring crops have been sown much later. An example on your walks is the field on Barrow Hill, sown with mustard as you may recall last autumn, now planted with Spring beans. In an average year these would have been planted in mid March, so a good five weeks late. This abnormal lateness has a significant effect on yield.

The Manor field now has cattle in it as do the fields up the gated road, once again a little later than normal due to the wet ground. I often hear people refer to these animals as cows. So here is a brief explanation of the terminology:

A cow is a female producing milk. A heifer a young female. A bull an entire male. A steer a castrated male. Therefore the animals you see in the fields around the village are all steers being reared for beef. These steers vary greatly in colour. This is because they are different breeds. The breed names come from their county or area of origin. To add interest to your walk (and it could be a quiz question at the Star) there are three breeds in the Manor field. The Hereford with its distinctive white face and red body. The South Devon, a light colour and a long somewhat mournful face and the Devon with the rich ruby red coat. The gated road steers are mostly Aberdeen Angus and therefore black in colour. The other thing to notice is that each animal has a yellow ear tag in each ear. All calves (term used to describe the young of both genders) have to be registered by the age of 28 days. The tags denote the country and farm of origin, and a number specific to that animal. Therefore all animals are traceable and are worthless if the tag is lost and not replaced. Sheep are also ear tagged and an extra point of interest concerning them is that the flock on the footpath behind Wemyss farm are the Romney Marsh breed. A breed not often seen in this area. Note the tufted knot of wool on their forehead.

Finally the cuckoo has been heard and our lovely part of England is looking at its best with the various blossoms especially the horse chestnut a particular favourite of mine and the fresh greenness of the foliage.

Richard Fonge.

To see pictures of the animals referred to in Richard’s article, with maps of where they are to be seen, click on “Read the rest of this entry”.


Hereford steers.


Close up of Hereford steer showing the ear tags.


Devon steers.


South Devon steers.


Manor Field


Aberdeen Angus steers.


Aberdeen Angus field off the “Gated Road”.


Romney Marsh ewe and lambs.


Footpath behind Wemyss Farm.


The Barrow Hill field (note public footpath)


Barrow Hill Field.


Horse Chestnut in the Manor Paddock.


Horse Chestnut “candle” blossom.



One Response to “May on the Farm”

  1. Peter Cherry says:

    Thanks Richard, very interesting as usual & useful to remind us non-farmers of the terms for cattle. The term I always use for young male cattle is ‘bullocks’ (being careful how I spell it!), which I presume has the same meaning as steers? Useful to see the difference between the Devon cattle as I’m moving down that way – thank you! Great pictures too – thanks Colin?

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