Highland cows that could move buyers to fresh fields
There’s no need to mowthe grass when you have something cute, hairy and ginger to do it for you. Sharon Dale reports on homes with bovine extras.
BUYING a country home with land was top of the wish list when Christopher Turner relocated to Yorkshire.
“My father used to a farm in Kent and so the idea of having a few acres appealed. When I saw the three paddocks we have here I thought how lovely they looked not realising how rapidly the grass grew.”
When a friend offered him a couple of Highland cattle he accepted.
“We now have two cows and a calf and they are tame lawn mowers,” says Mr Turner, who is throwing Rona, Islay and Rhum in free of charge when he sells Low Penhowe, a 17th century farmhouse and two cottages with five acres at Burythorpe, near Malton.
If the new owners want them he is also willing to leave his 30 chickens, four geese and a solitary turkey that was given a lifetime reprieve from the chop.
“He was one of four turkeys but three of them succumbed to the cold the year before last and we decided that we would let him survive all Christmases,” says Mr Turner.
Apart perhaps from the lucky turkey, the menagerie is a useful addition to the property, which the Turners bought 27 years ago. They renovated the farmhouse, which they run as a B&B, and later converted the granary into two lucrative holiday lets.
The grazed land attracts a single farm payment of about £200 a year. The chickens and geese lay eggs for the table and, as well as keeping the grass low, the cows are a popular attraction for guests.
“They love to look at the cows, which are very docile and low maintenance. They live outside year round and eat grass for most of the time though we supplement their diet in winter with stock potatoes, which are about £20 a ton and some oat straw,” says Mr Turner.
“We are downsizing and we’re very happy to leave the animals as part of the sale as long as we are certain they will be well cared for.”
Ellis and Jane Thackray are extending the same favour to the buyers of Newbiggin High Farm, Aislaby, near Whitby, which is home to two Highland cattle and 30 Hebridean sheep.
They bought the pretty property seven years ago and completely renovated the house and two holiday cottages.
Although Mr Thackray’s brother farmed the land initially, they reduced the acreage and it is now smallholding size with 15 acres, which is perfect for equestrian use or hobby farmers.
“We would be happy to leave the cows and sheep not least because we’d like them to have a good home. They are easy to keep and just require injections once a year. The cows usually have a pedicure too,” says Mr Thackray, who is selling to move to York.
Leaving the livestock is a generous offer, as the cattle are worth about £500 each and the sheep about £50 each, but it’s not unusual, according to Graham Hain, of www. ruralandequestrian.com, which specialises in smallholdings and properties with land.
“It is not uncommon for smallholders to leave stock and we find with a lot of rural properties that the new owners can inherit cats, geese, ducks, chickens, goats or even a donkey.”
Though the “Good Life” is still appealing to many buyers, reality has bitten for some, according to Carter Jonas.
Petrol prices have put some people off living in the country, according to Louise Hirst, of Carter Jonas, York, who adds: “I think people are working much harder and they are working longer hours than and there is a general lack of energy and personal time, which is also an issue. However, the nicer lifestyle properties will always have an appeal.
“There seems to be little appetite for properties that require work unless they are really cheap. However, we may see the balance tip in their favour again as people become tired of working all hours and decide they want some space and a slower pace of life.”
STAND OUT FROM THE HERD: Highland cattle brighten up the countryside with their ginger coats and they also make perfect “lawnmowers”.