All’s well that ends well


The evening air was warm and still. There was even a faint hint of Hawthorn on the gentle breeze. The dogs were enjoying the deeper grass of the verge and were snuffling and sniffing at the array of different scents that lay hidden from all but the most sensitive of noses.

A pair of curlews were calling from the recently cut fields. Their cries seemed mournful, sad as if crying out for their chicks.Β  When I eventually spotted them through the binoculars, I could see that they were feeding on the short grass, darting and stabbing their long curved bills into the short grass.

Putting my bins down I noticed a brown heap on the field in front of me. It looked at first like a small mound of soil, but on close inspection, I could see that it was a calf. There were two other calves in the field and three cows.

The other two calves were starting close to their mums. The other adult was at the far end of the field. Everyone was ignoring the little calf heaped on the ground.

I rechecked him through my binoculars. There was no sign of movement, and somewhat ominously a large crow had stationed itself on a post about 20 meters away.

It did not look good for the little fellow. The other cows, seeing that I was watching the calf, sensed that they needed to do something and they ambled slowly towards it, stopping a few meters short. Still, the calf did not move.

Time to move on.

I assumed that it was dead. Perhaps it had succumbed to the heat or a disease, but whatever the cause there was nothing I could do, nature had or soon would take its course.

As we walked back to the car, the curlews flew around the fields calling an alarming and they were soon joined by a couple of blackbirds. Something was stirring, a fox perhaps.

Early the next morningΒ  I was back at the same place. I wanted to see if the curlews were just hanging around or if they still had a nest left after the silaging that had taken place earlier in the week. There were even some fields with long grass on the higher parts of the farm, so there was a little hope. As I walked down the lane, I cast a glance across to see if anything had happened to the calf overnight.

It had gone, and at first, I assumed that the farmer had removed it, but as I scanned the field, I realised that it had moved about 50 metres further along but was still curled up on the ground and not moving.

It was hopeful news, but it was still lying on the ground. I decided that on the way back I would stop at the farm and let them know.

We carried on, and for an hour I watched a couple of curlew feeding in the fields. Eventually, one of them flew off to one of the higher areas and landing, it began to stalk its way through the long grass. I finally lost sight of it as it crept over a ridge.

Despite the fact that it was early morning it was beginning to warm up and the dogs were happily slouched across the grass, panting away the heat. I decided it was time to go, so scanned the fields one last time to see if I could see the curlew. It was well hidden.

Back on the lane, I stopped to look at the calf. It was still prone on the ground, and the others were at the far end of the field.

I had a quick look at him through the binoculars. Whereas last night his eyes had been closed, I noticed that they were now open. As I continued to watch, he raised his head and flicked his ears.

Smiling I glanced up the field. His mum seemed alert to his stirring and began to trot towards him soon followed by the other two cows and their calves. The little calf stirred himself and got to his feet, a little unsteadily at first, but then set off towards mum.

I struggled to get my iPhone out with the intention of filming the happy moment but I was too slow and soon the little calf after a cursory greeting was suckling happily.


I watched for a few more moments before gathering the dogs and setting back up the road to the car.

It seemed all was well after all.

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