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