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Janet Sutherland

Mum’s Accounts

In births and deaths, she lists the safe arrivals—
name of cow, initials of inseminating bull,
date the cow gave birth and (B)ull or (H)eifer.
The middle column’s blank for notes of trouble, trial, losses.


1978: Lady, assisted calving. Bunty, v. small calf. Tessa, bad mastitis. Dulcie, milk fever. Sukie, milk fever then liver failure, died January.
1979: Florence, milk fever and vet assisted calving. Spot and Fantasy, assisted calving. Dana, very hard calving, dead calf.
1980: Charlsie, vet assisted, calf dead, feet back. Charlene, vet assisted backwards calf dead. Favour, twins, second assisted, backwards dead. Spot, bent feet.
1981: Belinda, 2 weeks late, assisted calf puller. Vicky, induced – v large udder.
1982: Margaret, helped with puller machine. Millicent, vet assisted, twisted, calf’s guts out, calf died after 3 ½ days.
1984: Mandarin, hard calving, calf dead. Snowdrop, aborted, mummified calf. Favour, twins. Millicent, vet, twins, both dead. Toffee, twins both OK. Bridget, late, vet, needed help. Japonica, calf hernia, knackered. Margaret, very ill, prolapse, calf OK, 12 days late.
1986: Lilac, v hard calving, dead calf. Bronwyn, v hard calving, vet cut up calf. Libby, calf died 4 days later.
1987: Gorse, milk fever. Lotus, calved early, calf dead. Dolly, needed help, calf died next day.
1988: Carla, needed help, Carla down for 4-5 days, calf dead. Ellie, needed help, milk fever, vet. Magnolia, needed help, dead calf, cow casualty. Della, vet, calf died.
1990: Bridie, smallish. Daisy, aborted. Dinah, twins, helped. Verona, twins, 2nd dead. Lizzie, helped. Sapphire, calf dead, needed help. Pearl, vet. Diana, vet. Verity, vet.



Cross country running for boys

The slurry pit had been roped off as out of bounds.
Grass grew green, the crust was day old bread.
It looked like solid ground, as he said later, naked
in our kitchen while his clothes were washed and dried.



Digging a silage pit
an accidental exhumation:
the anthrax cow



Last Night

Driving at night towards the hospital
and reaching, at last, the turn-off
for the farm where headlights
blacken grasses at the junction
and suddenly the camber falls away—
there, where I’d always turned before,
a white owl ghosts the centre line.




Copyright © Janet Sutherland, 2018