There isn’t much that can spoil the occasion of turning the cows out to grass. It has to be my favourite job of the year.
This has been our shortest Winter ever in terms of days spent inside but that doesn’t lessen the fun of letting the cows going outside or their initial excitement.
Although – it has become more complicated than just opening the gates and letting them go.
The last three years I have videoed their release and put the footage on you-tube. I have also endeavored to take some snaps at the same time, usually off the back of the quad as the cows charge down the lane towards the field.
It takes about forty minutes to put the fences right, mount the Go Pro on the back of the bike and set up my SLR. Preparation is everything especially for someone of my limited ability with a camera. There is more to go wrong than right when using a camera and there is only one chance to capture those special moments.
So whilst I’m fiddling around with the cameras and the motorbike the cows are stood there weighing the situation up. They won’t have seen or heard the bike for some time so that brings some interest and its not long before they are crowded around the fence in anticipation. They may not be the most advanced of thinkers but they are not daft and they soon know whats going on.
It only takes a few of the sharper bovine minds to twig and start bawling in anticipation and the whole herd are joining in a deafening chorus.
When I open the gates, I have to be careful not to get trampled in the rush.
With the camera rolling on the back of the quad, I drive a few yards in front of the cows to capture their excitement.
The cows break out into a full blown gallop, charging down the lane clumsily like bobbing rocking horses. There is a strong comic element to their manic running style and its hard not to laugh.
This level of excitement in cows only happens on two occasions – spring turnout or when they break into the neighbours wheat field.
In terms of video worthiness on the farm this has to be the pinnacle.
So when the skipping and galloping eventually stopped as the cows put their heads down to graze, you can imagine my thoughts when I switched off record mode and found an error message flashing across the screen.
‘Video error’ or something similar was flashing on the display. Shortly followed by ‘video repair failed’ and then ‘video deleted’. I was stunned.
I couldn’t believe it. By far the best video footage of the year disappears in the blink of an eye. What a disaster.
I hurriedly checked through the menu to find the file but memory card was blank. Later on in the day I took the card out of the camera for my son George to check to see if there were any files to be salvaged but they were all gone.
So unfortunately my favourite day of the year was spoiled somewhat and footage of the cows being released was limited to a few snaps taken by me whilst riding the bike up the lane.
Worse still, the problem couldn’t be blamed on the stupid GoPro or the stupid memory card. I hadn’t formatted it after it was last used and there was nobody else to blame except myself. It’s a mistake that I won’t be making again.
Nevertheless I can bring you last years turnout video instead – in case you haven’t already seen it!