Cotswold Life

Our High­land su­per­star

‘Black Primce will eas­ily tip the scales at a ton, or even more. So he’s not to be messed with, and you cer­tainly don’t want him tread­ing on your toes’

- Con­tact @Adamhen­son T: 01451 850307 cotswold­farm­park.co.uk Animals · Wildlife · Elizabeth II · Cotswolds · Snowshill · Guiting Power

As I gaze across the Cotswold coun­try­side, squint­ing in to the morn­ing sun to catch a glimpse of the church tower at Stow shim­mer­ing away in the dis­tance, I have to stop my­self from imag­in­ing that this is an English sum­mer just as glo­ri­ous and care­free as any other. In the fresh, still air of a new day, in the peace­ful in­ter­lude be­tween our daily staff brief­ing and the point when I un­lock the Farm Park gates, it’s hard to com­pre­hend that we’re liv­ing un­der a whole set of un­fa­mil­iar rules and re­stric­tions.

Not far away, the laven­der fields at Snow­shill have been lovely this year, the bird­song seems to be louder than ever and as for the weather, we recorded ridicu­lously high tem­per­a­tures up here at Guit­ing Power even be­fore Au­gust had be­gun. And while we’ve been con­cen­trat­ing on sani­tis­ing sta­tions, safety mea­sures and so­cial dis­tanc­ing, as well as gear­ing up to take part in ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, our an­i­mals have been bliss­fully un­aware of all the fuss.

Our Large Black pig, Mau­reen, and her lit­ter of cheeky, squeal­ing piglets have been de­light­ing vis­i­tors and pro­vid­ing some splen­did photo op­por­tu­ni­ties do­ing what all sel­f­re­spect­ing hogs do when the heat is on – wal­low­ing in the mud to keep them­selves cool. Large Black not only de­scribes our mag­nif­i­cent, moth­erly sow but, rather help­fully, it’s also the name of the breed. It’s a proper West Coun­try pig too, orig­i­nally bred by farm­ers in Devon and Corn­wall in Vic­to­rian times. They used to be highly prized but when fast-to-grow, su­per-lean and high­lyprof­itable pigs be­came all the rage in the 1960s, they fell out of favour and the breed is now se­ri­ously en­dan­gered. I bought my first Large Blacks three years ago and they made them­selves at home im­me­di­ately.

Bees never need an in­vi­ta­tion to join the party and there cer­tainly seem to be more of them around this sum­mer. Our bee­keeper, Chris, looks af­ter the colony here and has even set up a glassfront­ed ob­ser­va­tion hive in the heart of the Con­ser­va­tion Area sur­rounded by won­der­ful wild­flow­ers. We also grow San­foin, a ley crop which thrives on the thin Cotswold soil with flow­ers that are bril­liant for pol­li­na­tors. San­foin honey is de­li­cious and a few weeks ago Chris started har­vest­ing it from the hives. Once it’s been weighed, cut and boxed it will go on sale in the Farm Shop and I don’t mind ad­mit­ting that I’ll be the first to try it, on but­tered toast for break­fast.

Although the lock­down ear­lier in the year means the sum­mer tourist sea­son will be shorter than any of us would have liked, I al­ready know which one of our hun­dreds of an­i­mals will be the su­per­star at­trac­tion of 2020; our new High­land bull, Black Prince. He’s pure beef on four hooves and half a ton of mas­culin­ity, might and mus­cle. I bought him from an award-win­ning pedi­gree High­land breeder in War­wick­shire as a re­place­ment for our ‘celebrity’ High­land, Archie; he’d come from the Queen’s es­tate at Bal­moral in Aberdeensh­ire and earned lots of ad­mir­ers over the years be­fore he moved to a new home near Stroud. So the new boy, Black Prince of Grafton to give him his full name, had a lot to live up to when he ar­rived at the Farm Park back in Jan­uary. He’s twoand-a-half years old and when he’s fully grown he’ll eas­ily tip the scales at a ton, or even more. So he’s not to be messed with, and you cer­tainly don’t want him tread­ing on your toes. High­land bulls can give a hell of a bel­low when they want to and their huge curved horns look ab­so­lutely lethal, but they’re gen­tle gi­ants re­ally. De­spite be­ing huge hardy, hairy beasts, th­ese ar­che­typal Scot­tish cat­tle some­how look per­fectly at home on the gen­tle, rolling hills of the Cotswolds; even more so when they’re drenched in warm sum­mer sun­shine.

 ??  ?? Black Prince of Grafton en­joy­ing the Cotswold sun­shine
Black Prince of Grafton en­joy­ing the Cotswold sun­shine

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