The Angus Boys

Every parent is a little biased about their child’s talents. So it’s not surprising that I think our Angus Boys are very clever.

This morning, Hubby had some mowing business to attend to and whilst I was sipping my morning coffee, I spied a few familiar black masses in the paddock nearest our cottage – the very paddock that I had moved those familiar black masses from yesterday. The Boys had somehow opened the gate and let themselves back in!

Down went my coffee, on went my boots, and out I headed. As I walked up to The Boys, they slowly started heading towards the very gate they’d opened. I walked ahead, and with few “Koo-mons!” we soon had a game of Follow-The-Leader! Our gentle approach has seen them become very calm and they seem to know that when we appear, we take them to greener pastures.

So within less than ten minutes, The Boys were reunited with the rest of their brothers chewing happily, even posing for photos. And I was back with my coffee!

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An olive branch

I’m out with the boys today, moving them to greener pastures.

They’re very calm and we can now walk them to other paddocks… Well mostly! There’s a couple who think its fun to keep me fit and get me running after them as they bolt in the opposite direction to the rest of the herd!

A couple of others have become very friendly and stay quite close when we’re herding them. They don’t want to be petted but once we’re the other side of the fence, their confidence grows.

I’ve noticed they like munching the branches of the olive trees in the paddock so this morning I decided to extend an olive branch… And one of the boys took it! Super cute stuff and I captured the moment!

Bringing up animals in a calm way just feels right.

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Caring for land and animals

At Mulberry Tree Farm, we feel very lucky to be the present custodians of this pocket of amazing land.

Our Black Angus boys are looking healthy and happy and we are making sure we rotate them through the paddocks regularly.

It’s a beneficial cycle. Firstly rotating the boys keeps them well fed because there’s always enough to eat. Secondly it allows the paddock to repair and the grass to regenerate, producing nutritious feed ready for the boys when they return. And so the cycle goes.

We’ve also learned that the more calm your animals are kept throughout their life, the easier it is on them once they go off to slaughter. It can be a confronting thought, but the reason we have this farm is to contribute the best Angus beef we can to the food chain. If we can give these boys a relaxed life in a natural environment, that’s the best thing we can do for them. And that means respecting both them and the land they’re on.

I’ve just been out to check on them and I’m amazed at how intuitive they are. We moved them to a new paddock yesterday, and today it seems they think I want them to move again today. Here they are standing patiently at the gate! Either that, or they’ve spied the neighbors heifers in the paddock next to this other one. Boys will be boys, whatever the species!

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Have you Herd?

Greener pastures awaited our boys this morning, so we swung open the gates. But they seemed to be content where they were.

I don’t blame them. Under clear blue sunny skies, some had pulled up a patch and were lolling about lying under one of the big gum trees.

They soon started to get the gist when we made our way towards them. A few “koo-mon’s” and they were off in the intended direction.

But there’s always one who wants to be the stand out, and this morning this was multiplied by three. The jokers who think it’s amusing to hang out at the bar for just that bit longer. Our collection of garden off cuts is a smorgasbord for the boys, and these three were having double helpings. And to their credit, it is pretty funny! Those brown eyes blinking at you, those four (or twelve) stubborn legs glued to the spot. And just when you get within a couple of strides, they’ll turn and shimmy off, joining their mates who have seen the joke a thousand times & don’t want to encourage them.

And I promise one of them winked at me when I started giggling, just like any good country boy would!

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The Life of Pie

As a lover of food, I enjoy a substantial meal. Meat and three veg is always a treat, and when it’s neatly wrapped in puffed pastry it’s even better.

The humble pie shouldn’t be so. It should be proudly sit in the middle of a table to be admired by all those about to eat it. Smooth and golden, savoury or sweet, a pie is always a winner. That first touch of the pastry with the knife, that anticipation of the first incision and the excitement as the steam rises from the extraction of the first piece. Who cares if it crumbles as it’s placed on the plate, or topples as the plate is passed to the eager receiver. The messier it looks, the more tasty it promises to be. After all, who cares about aesthetics when something can deliver such joy and happiness!

We took a before shot of this grass fed Angus beef with carrot, leek and celery pie that my dad cooked for lunch. Expertly styled and coupled with a glass of Heathcote Shiraz, it promised great things.

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And, surpassing all taste expectation we gobbled it down in a flash which explains why there’s no after shot!

Och aye wee luds

Great Britain is the birthplace of many great things. Wimbledon, The Ashes, The House of Windsor and haggis. It’s been a great battle ground too with dozens of bloodsheds between the Kingdoms of Scotland and England. My personal favourite is the war of The Rough Wooing. Scotland and England had a tiff over a marriage that Henry the Eighth tried to arrange between his son Edward and Mary, Queen of Scots. Even the great 16th century historian William Patten weighed in on the war citing “I lyke not thys wooyng.”¬†http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rough_Wooing

It seems our Black Angus cattle know their roots. Angus is considered the birthplace of Scotland dating back to 1320, and as I went out to check on the boys today, I noticed a kerfuffle. The Hereford girls from next door were proudly displaying their rumps, frolicking even, as they made their way across the paddock. However, like most men, the stomach is stronger than the heart, and the boys were finding the lushness of the pasture far more inviting. There was no risk of Rough Wooing today. However, were the boys not steers but bulls, it may have been a different story. Bless their little Bravehearts!

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On the Moove

Herding cattle can be tricky. Just when you think you have them covered, there’s that little posse of attitudey cows who decide that the grass is greener on the other side – the side of the fence you don’t want them grazing. Our Angus cattle are very content, and we’ve worked out that soft encouragement works best for these boys. A few low register sounds of the “shoo” and “koo-mon” varieties seems to agree with them. Whether it’s our mutual Scottish heritage connection or sheer luck, as long as they’re heading in the direction we want them to go, I’m happy.

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This morning, a good firewood collecting session had them mesmerised. Lined up along the right side of the fence watching intently as Hubby carved a fallen limb with the full-throttle chainsaw, their heads lowed to the rhythmic sounds of manmade machine. The approaching tractor added to the excitement. Their heads turned left to right as they watched the action – chainsawing man, tractor driving woman, chainsawing man, tractor driving woman – reminiscent of a good Wimbledon rally. I thought of that wonderful Far Side cartoon depicting people standing in a paddock as a carload of cows speeds by mimicking them. After a morning of providing cattle-class entertainment, I think that genius Larson is onto something.

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