7am. One small voice as No2, standing on the window sill looking out at the beautiful summer morning says quietly ‘Mummy, what is that cow doing?’ I think I already had a bad feeling as I looked over her shoulder and saw a large animal lying in the field just the other side of the ha-ha. Not fifty feet from my room. Huge she was, and very, very still, her vast belly pointing accusingly up into the sky. From under her tail pointed a tiny nose. She had died in calf birth, that poor beast, and what were the final sounds she heard as she strained and cried out and tried so hard, alone? Another fat cow, fresh from a nice safe delivery of her own, screaming invective at her. Nice.
As was the response of Farmer Fortissimo when he was told of the death. ‘Well how did THAT happen then?’ he yelled, accusingly. I protested innocence and forgot to tell him of my heartlessness. Eventually, I persuaded him that we hadn’t killed her and he conceded that these things sometimes happen, and arrived to winch the conjoined carcasses into a trailer and remove them. But not before I’d gone into the field to be absolutely sure, and to punish myself, and to apologise. Humanity in farming is one thing, it would seem; sorority, apparently, is another altogether.