A couple of days ago, Joe went to town with Jean-and-Brian-next-door, to get his hair cut. He returned with a 'present for both of us' and produced a pretty box from Patisserie Valerie. It's been so long since we could afford a little luxury such as this that - and was such a lovely surprise - that I found myself getting a little teary eyed.
We decided to save them for later and I went into the garden, to plod on with my weeding. Glancing over at the adjoining field, I spotted a large, dark lump being nuzzled by a couple of cows. My first thought that it might be something dead, perhaps a fox, but realised it was possibly a calf. Then I saw an ear twitch. I called Joe to come and see and rushed to grab my camera.
They were on the far side of the field, so my zoom was stretched to its limit, but you can just see it lying behind the hind-quarters of the cow in the foreground. I think it had probably been born within the last half hour.
I've never seen this in the six years I've lived here. Knowing that the farmer usually likes to handle such events under cover, we walked up to the farm to let them know what had happened. As it turned out, 'young farmer' was in bed, sick, so we told the older farmer's wife who was holding the household reins.
We returned to see what would happen. The calf must have wobbled to its feet, as it was now in the close shelter of the hedgerow, surrounded by other members of the herd who were obviously shielding it from potential harm.
A farmhand came down to check things out (maybe to make sure we weren't seeing things that weren't there). He was soon surrounded by most of the small herd.
Later, he returned with 'old farmer' and a wheelbarrow. The new born was placed carefully onto a nest of straw and so began a long procession up the field, towards the farm; the calf in the wheelbarrow, a line of cows trotting alongside and 'old farmer' bringing up the rear. We could just see the head of the calf peeking up as it was wheeled up the field.
After some commotion at the farmyard gate, the calf was transported away with its mother following, where they will have been settled in a shed together. What drama!
I spent a quiet few hours with my laborious weeding, having hit a patch of clay which is the very devil to dig and clear. Next door, the herd continued quietly grazing in the mellow October sun.
Later, we enjoyed our tea and cake, still glowing from being the first to lay eyes on the newest addition to the farm next door.