A Flint­stones mo­ment on the block

Get­ting High­land cat­tle from point A to point B turns out to be a Fred Flint­stones mo­ment.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - Words Wil­lie Thom­son

For all of us wannabe farm­ers or ex-city slick­ers in search of our ‘good life’ (think Richard Bri­ers and Felic­ity Kendall), cer­tain as­pects can be some­what more stress-in­duc­ing than stress-re­liev­ing. Like mov­ing an­i­mals on or off your block, es­pe­cially if you lack the speed, staff num­bers or suit­ably-trained mutt to as­sist.

We have two blocks and nei­ther has a load­ing ramp suit­able for a live­stock truck so we’ve al­ways strug­gled mov­ing an­i­mals on, off or around. The lo­cal truck­ies have been un­der­stand­ing, de­spite their not­too-sub­tle, sharp in­take of breath when we call. I think they prom­ise them­selves that they will save our mo­bile num­ber un­der ‘don’t an­swer!’ but for­get.

They have al­ways tried to work us into their sched­ule, drop­ping an­i­mals off with ac­com­mo­dat­ing and un­der­stand­ing neigh­bours.

But our lack of yards meant we had to wait al­most three months to get our new pedi­gree High­land bull (Han­some!) de­liv­ered from the depths of Taranaki, nearly miss­ing the op­por­tu­nity for him to meet our over-ex­cited girls early enough to avoid their off­spring ar­riv­ing in a 30°C dust bowl.

A new plan was re­quired, but we adopted the stan­dard pro­cras­ti­na­tion pol­icy and it wasn’t un­til one rather dis­ap­point­ing Satur­day af­ter­noon that Felic­ity and I de­cided we’d had enough.

The cat­a­lyst? We have High­land cows, which are cute, friendly and rather tasty, but they have an Achilles heel, or more pre­cisely an Achilles horn. Their large, wide horns mean we can’t use a flash horse trailer lest a cow ac­ci­den­tally punc­ture an un­con­ven­tional win­dow open­ing through its side, never a pop­u­lar post-man­u­fac­tur­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tion. Live­stock trail­ers suit­able for the role are an even rarer breed than the cows them­selves.

How­ever, we did fi­nally man­age to find and hire what we thought was a suit­able trailer for the pur­pose. The di­men­sions, sides and door dura­bil­ity ap­peared ap­pro­pri­ate, and we were set to move a favourite mother and daugh­ter from one block to another.

An av­er­age amount of sweat and tears were lost dur­ing the load­ing process (thank­fully no blood on this oc­ca­sion) and we set off, rather pleased with our­selves and still speak­ing to each other which is not al­ways the case on these oc­ca­sions.

Ap­prox­i­mately 2km from home, con­ver­sa­tion stopped dead when we heard a loud crack and a scrap­ing noise. What we found could only be de­scribed as a scene from the Flint­stones: four legs through the bot­tom of the trailer, stand­ing on the road.

Once we had worked our way through the Ox­ford Ex­ple­tives Dic­tionary, we set about en­cour­ag­ing their cloven toes back up onto the re­main­ing floor space and com­menced a long limp home. Neigh­bours, their dogs, cats and other in­ter­ested par­ties all col­lected on the road­side, and had bunt­ing been avail­able, they would have waved it at us as the re­turn­ing wounded. Thank­fully, there were only mi­nor cuts and bruises, and the cows were ok as well!

Felic­ity sug­gested we adopt a new ap­proach for the fu­ture. We are now the proud own­ers of a brand new shiny Ifor Wil­liams Easy Load trailer im­ported from the UK. The thing is a joy to be­hold and so beau­ti­ful and spa­cious it was sug­gested we sleep in it the first night it ar­rived.

Coax­ing the trau­ma­tised hairy mother and daugh­ter onto it was as chal­leng­ing as an­tic­i­pated, pos­si­bly en­hanced by the trailer’s blind­ing alu­minium glare. How­ever, once they were calm, they stood stead­fast on the gripped alu­minium floor and looked at us through the side open­ings in a sig­nif­i­cantly more re­laxed man­ner. Even their ner­vous move­ments were col­lected in the en-suite drain and tank. Felic­ity grinned the whole way home.

It’s been a great in­vest­ment for a more stress-free lifestyle and hope­fully we can get a chance to help some other folk and maybe share a yarn and a laugh as we go.

And don’t worry. Felic­ity al­ready has me on an ex­ple­tive man­age­ment pro­gram. ■

Wh What we found looked like a scene from The Flint­stones ones

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