Celebrity Highland Bull settles into his new home in the Cotswolds
PUBLISHED: 02:18 20 June 2012 | UPDATED: 10:36 21 February 2013
Spring is in the air and that means a new season and new life on the farm. The new arrivals include the first offspring of Eric the Bull who has become something of a celebrity since he appeared on Countryfile more than a year ago. Read on...
Spring is in the air and that means a new season and new life on the farm. Its time for the lambs, piglets, kids and chicks to make their public debuts and draw admiring looks from the Farm Park visitors.
Amongst the new arrivals is a group offriendly, shaggy-coated ginger animals;a mini-herd of little Highland calves.Theyre the first offspring of Eric the Bull, whos become something of acelebrity since he first appeared on Countryfile more than a year ago.
I needed to improve my Highland herdby bringing in a really good bull to sire the next generation and my search took me all the way to the Spring Highland Cattle sale at Oban in Argyll. The annual auction has atremendous reputation and attracts buyers from all over Europe. Now Ive grown up with Highlands here in theCotswolds and Ive got to know a lot about these wonderful beasts but the Oban market was like being in the cattle equivalent of a Ferrari showroom. There were nearly 60 prime examples of broad, muscular,testosterone-filled Highland bull for sale. How on earth could I choose between them? Thankfully I had the help of a brilliant stockman called Angus MacDonald from North Uist in the Outer Hebrides who owns one of the finest and most sought after herds in the country.
We walked along the cattle lines watching the animals being washed, combed and blow-dried in readiness for their appearances in the sale ring. As they were being primped and primed, Angus pointed out the sort of characteristics I needed to bear in mind before making my investment; a strong working physique, a lively look, good upward slanting horns and straight feet.Eric certainly stood out from the crowd and he definitely ticked all the boxes from a breeders point of view. As sale time approached the crowds began to gather, the chatter of the dealers became more animated and the atmosphere was charged with expectation.
I love the excitement of a livestock auction and its easy to see why some buyers get carried away with themselves and end up spending a fortune. Before leaving home Id beensensible enough to set myself a budgetof 1,500. When I mentioned this to Angus at the start of the day hed thrown his head back and laughed out loud. Oh dear. So when Eric entered the sale ring and the auctioneer began taking bids, it wasnt long before I realised my price limit was going to flyout the window. It was obvious I wasnt the only one who had spotted his pedigree and in the end I had to part with 2,500 to secure the winning bid.
Eric arrived here at the farm in pouring rain after an overnight lorry journey from Scotland. But he soon made himself at home and it wasnt long before I put him with his harem of Highland cows. A few months later the Countryfile cameras returned to film them being pregnancy tested.This is a typical rubber glove job as the vet feels around for the fallopian tube inside the cow to determine whether or not shes carrying a calf. The future of our herd and poor old Erics reputation were in the hands of the vet literally. But thankfully itwas a full house and all five wives were indeed pregnant.
Its those calves who are amongst this seasons new additions to the Farm Park. Meanwhile Eric is loving his newfound fame, playing the role of the proud father and no doubt looking forward to his next appearance on national television.
Cotswold Farm Park, Guiting Power,near Cheltenham, GL54 5UG, tel: 01451850307, www.cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk