Caroline Shipsey

Friday, 18 May 2007

Curious Cows and a Sunset

Anyone with the tiniest oodle of commonsense who has lived all their life in the country, as I have, will know that cows are curious creatures, that is curious as in inquisitive. The younger they are the more inquisitive, playful and above all FASTER they are.

What does this have to do with photographing a sunset you may ask ?
Well quite a lot in the circumstances.

The weather here on the Mendips has been pretty dismal of late, in fact, Priddy is renowned for its dismal climate – it’s a well known fact that prospective house sales fall through when the buyers “hear about the weather”. Day after day we are shrouded in mist, fog and drizzly rain while just 2 or 3 miles down the road in Wells the sun shines.

So when the fog and rain cleared yesterday giving way to a typically English spring day, with brilliant blue skies, puffy white clouds and the countryside fresh in its new clothes, I planned taking an evening walk at Deer Leap. A sunset I thought, that’s what I will photograph today, I’ll take the dogs with me and together we will enjoy the end of the day, taking in the finest view in Somerset.

Off we strode, just me, and 5 happy dogs scampering around, plus Fly, who only has 3 legs, in her buggy being pushed and carried over gates and stiles, camera dangling off my shoulder. Tripod ? No way, I don’t do tripods and dogs and buggy. The light was a bit iffy, not as clear as I hoped but it had possibilities, so we kept going. The sun broke through the clouds exactly at my eye level, blinding me temporarily but long enough to ensure that I failed to see a number of cows on the horizon until I was within 20 yards or so of them. The first group of cows however had plenty of time to see me approaching and were already regarding me with some interest - Its not everyday that a dog in a baby buggy passes their way.

My tactics were to walk slowly, calmly, back in the direction I had come from keeping the dogs close by me, but they and the cows had other ideas. Now remember that I was walking towards the setting sun and the cows, and that the angle and brilliance of the sun had more or less blinded me. The dogs disappeared into the distance as the sound of hooves thundering towards us increased, and my legs were propelling me forward as fast as they could manage considering that now I could feel warm bovine breath on the back of my neck.

Ok I thought, I’ll stop them dead in their tracks, and with my loudest “I’m not scared of you” voice I turned and roared “ Gid on,gid on” (this is what I thinkI hear farmers shouting), waving my arms madly. Unimpressed the cows continued to advance on me at speed, whilst I was facing them roaring “Gid on you *!!*??*’s. Now these were cunning creatures, they came around the sides of me and before I knew it I was completely encircled by them. Every time I tried to take a step they were heading me off and getting ever closer to me, and the now terrified Fly, cowering in her buggy. A tripod might have come in handy now to defend myself I thought wistfully.

Remaining stationary for a couple of minutes I tried to collect my thoughts and plan my escape, I realised that no-one knew where I was and as my partner was away, no-one would miss me, except the dogs that is. Then in the distance I saw my salvation in the form of a man walking towards me, though he seemed oblivious to my plight. “Help” I shouted repeatedly – no reaction, “Please get me out of here” I bawled hysterically. He called back “They’re only curious”, followed by “Don’t worry” as an afterthought. At this point I dropped any pretence of being a lady and screeched at the top of my voice “For **!! sake get get these !!***??? ** cows away from me PLEASE” He came over to me and as if by some miracle these beasts just parted and began to amble off having completely lost interest. With a sigh of great relief I thanked him for his trouble and headed for the car, only now could I see my fearless dogs watching intently from a safe distance – thanks dogs! Off we went, striding out into the gloom of dusk. If there was a sunset I didn’t see it, and I didn't care about it either, I was relieved to be safe and heading for home, and then…… the front wheel fell off Fly’s buggy.


Ron Southern said...

Well, baby buggies weren't designed for fighting off cows, were they?

I'm not a country boy, but lived around cows some. My observation was that the most hazardous things they do are Piss at will and slobber and drip snot constantly.

You better get a new set of dogs, though. Sheesh. Yours are an embarrssment to Herding dogs everywhere, I think.

Ron Southern said...

But good post, though!!!