Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Highland cattle calves

click photo to enlarge
I like to think that I take an interest in most things, and, with the exception of TV, celebrity and "social meeja" culture, I'm sure I do, knowing a little about a lot. But inevitably, if your net is cast wide in this way, the sum total of your knowledge about some subjects is only sufficient to fill the back of the proverbial postage stamp.

I was thinking about this recently when my mind settled on what I know about cattle. Being brought up in the Yorkshire Dales my early knowledge about farm animals inevitably centred on sheep. However, dairy and beef cattle were reasonably common in the valleys and on the valley sides, so Friesians, Holsteins, Herefords, Jerseys, Anguses etc were quite familiar to me as a child. But, over the years, I've noticed a change in the distribution and variety of cattle across the country. The Limousin breed is now massively popular everywhere and is inter-bred with other varieties. In Lincolnshire the Lincoln Reds have always survived but are currently, so I'm told, enjoying something of a renaissance. In the Dales unusual types are now more commonly seen, especially the hardy upland breeds introduced for conservation reasons. I've noticed Blue Greys and Belted Galloways and there seems to have been quite an increase in Highland Cattle (which I've also seen in Lincolnshire). The latter breed is also deemed suitable for hilly and mountainous areas for environmental reasons, managing on poorer fare than most other cattle, but its spread in lowland areas too must be due to demand for the beef it produces.

Today's photograph of two Highland Cattle calves was taken on the hills above Settle in the Dales. I'm not generally a photographer of "cute" subjects but this one, I think, qualifies for that title, as most young animals do. The cute quotient is turned up a notch by the way they are standing side by side, seeming to pose for the camera. A nearly three year old boy, looking at this shot on the screen of my camera, identified the calves as dogs. It's easy to understand his confusion. Since we are talking about knowledge I'll end with a recent addition to my fairly meagre total concerning cattle: a herd of Highland Cattle is more properly described as a "fold". Who would have thought it?

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 37.1mm (100mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On