Don’t you just love the way cows always seem to gather around stiles and gates? 🙂 I had to run the gamut of this lot on a recent walk, in fact when I took this picture, I had already passed through the herd in order to get through this gate. They were all youngsters and were very nosy but harmless, and they moved out of the way for me to walk through when I waved my arms.
But it was on this very meadow that 30 years ago, myself and my son were charged at by fully grown cows. They were coming towards us in a line as if returning from being milked and just passed us by. We thought nothing of it until suddenly each of them turned and charged at us from behind, only swerving away at the last moment. There wasn’t much we could do but to keep walking and eventually we got out through the far gate safely, but I have no idea why they behaved that way. I can only think that our rucksacks perhaps made us appear to be a threat. Cows are big, heavy beasts, and it was unnerving to have a whole herd charging at us from behind!
This was not the only time I have had issues! I had a similar incident more recently when a whole herd charged at me across a field. I just kept calm and kept walking steadily and reached my exit gate just as they reached me. It was only at that point that I realised there was a bull in the middle of the herd! Needless to say, I reported the incident to the local authority because there were no warning notices on the gates!
There was another occasion when I was forced to give way! I was walking along a very narrow causeway between two rivers when a whole herd of cows came down the path towards me in single file. At first I kept walking and they backed up, but there were so many of them that that just wasn’t going to work. With nowhere that I could go to let them pass, I had no choice but to retrace my steps!
Each year there are reports of people being attacked by cows but most involve either people walking with dogs, cows with calves, beef cattle that get handled less by farm hands, or one of the more highly strung breeds. None of these factors applied in my cases above so the incidents seem to be random. Whilst there are statistics on cow attacks, only those involving death are actually recorded so full details are a bit vague. There is now a recommendation that farmers should try to avoid having cows with calves in fields where there are footpaths, and also that protected footpaths, using electric fences to separate the footpaths from the main field, should be considered.
The incidents have never put me off walking through fields of cows though – I refuse to have my walks spoiled by farm animals 🙂 ! I do take some safety precautions though if a herd looks as if it might be threatening – I avoid coming between a cow and her calf, I walk steadily and confidently through the herd, and I usually talk to them as I walk, just to make sure they are not suddenly spooked if they haven’t noticed me. And sometimes it is useful to have a walking pole in your hand! Bulls don’t put me off either, although I do keep a very watchful eye on them and if possible I walk along the edge of the field so that I can jump over the fence if necessary.
Of course, it is not only cows that are the issue, I’ve been attacked by a horse that reared up at me with its hooves above my head. Fortunately the path across the field was extremely short so I was soon over the stile on the other side. I’ve also had fields of sheep charge at me…….but I think they just thought I was the farmer bringing food. Oh, and of course swans can be pretty aggressive too!
Considering all the miles I have walked over very many years, the incidents have been few and far between……and with the current move towards veganism, maybe they will be even rarer in the future 🙂 ! Triple F terrain, that’s ‘Flat Farm Fields’, is my least favourite anyway as I prefer to be in the hills or woods but when you live in Dorset, any walk is probably going to involve some FFF’s, and therefore livestock! In fact, winter can be a good time to walk in Dorset as the cows will all be in barns then 🙂 !
Be alert and stay safe as you walk!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings, and I hope you enjoy exploring with me.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
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