There’s no better sight than a field full of cattle

After a miserable winter and one of the diciest lambing seasons we’ve known, a late spring is finally here and the farm is teaming with life – hurrah!

We took a drive over to Duncombe Park where we keep a herd of 16 young Longhorn heifers; 11 daughters of our prize bull Dynamo and five recent new editions, from herds in Settrington and Derbyshire. Having never been sprayed with pesticides or chemicals, the parkland has very rich pasture and is rife with wildflowers – and at this time of year, wild garlic. 

Wild garlic, dutifully picked for our Askew Road chef Gemma
Wild English bluebells, which form a thick, beautiful belt around the pastureland

The gardens at Grange Farm are also looking lovely, with the shrubbery, flowers and vegetables starting to flourish (and just look at that sky!). 

Aubretia, Dierama, Berberis, Angelica, Black Elder…and so on 
Leeks, cabbages and cordoned apple saplings

It seems a shame to keep our magnificent breeding stock under wraps, and so Jim and Sarah have been busy preparing some of our Longhorn ladies for the Yorkshire Show in July. We’re showing four heifers in three classes; the two-year heifer class, yearling heifer class and a pair of animals by same sire. This is the first time the Ginger Pig has entered into an agricultural show, but Jim, our cold room manager, has been showing cattle for six years and is leading the way for us newcomers.

Show preparation is essentially Britain’s Next Top Cow Model, involving halter training, learning to walk, learning to walk amongst other cattle and then a lengthy grooming process. The girls get a thorough brush, shampoo and condition, blow dry (with a special cow dryer), curry-comb to remove all the dead hair, and are then clipped to make sure they’re neat and tidy. 

Sarah leads Maisie out on a halter, Jim’s in the background with Medlar
Maisie tied and ready for a brush
Hey, good looking!
Poshpants, real name Tanfield Lace. Gorgeous animal but more attitude than Beyonce…
Beauty regime

Showing livestock isn’t just a vanity project (though we’re definitely after a ribbon or two); it also paves the way for selling some livestock. While we’ve sold the odd good bull in the past, most of our livestock is either for breeding or meat – we’ve not really sold heifers before. In a bid to open up the Longhorn bloodlines a bit, for the first time we’re looking at selling some of our Levisham herd, which will diversify bloodlines around the country and preserve the breed for a while longer yet. They’re not called rare breeds for nothing, and we’ll do what we can to keep Longhorns robust and healthy.

And while there’s no better sight than a field full of cattle, this has to come fairly close – our sheepdog Nell and her four six-week old pups.