The land was parched and massive equipment used water pumped from the Derwent River to spray irrigate crops and keep the red earth moist.
The day was exceptionally hot so, when I approached the expansive circulating spray of water on one farm, I was strongly tempted to stand and be drenched. However I decided not to drown my precious tablet that I use to take photos. Instead I continued onwards – hot and bothered.
Before long, I entered through a side fence into a large paddock with a herd of cattle grazing in a far distance corner. They looked up. They watched me. Curious. I headed back down the fence line towards the water’s edge. When I checked behind me I noted some were now beginning to amble in my direction.
From experience I find there are two types of cattle – those who know people and associate people with extra food, and those who roam comparatively wildly and seldom see people. The former want to check you out and the latter run away even when they see you 100 metres or more away. I prefer the cattle who head off elsewhere to find their food. A large herd of cattle coming for me gives me no comfort even though I love the look of their soft eyes and noses and lips. I know they will not deliberately hurt me but I have images of their tonnes of weight accidentally standing on my feet, and I don’t like the foreseeable consequences.
I continued walking, reached the River and kept moving forward along the edge. I noted that all the cows were coming now and closing the distance. I could not see the ‘protection’ of the ends of the paddock and its fences. I was hot and getting hotter despite keeping up the fluids. As I approached a point offering wonderfully easy access to the River, I thought about jumping in or at least loading my hat with water to cool down.
But I looked around, realised the cattle were so close that I could eyeball the advance party, and knew I had to keep walking. When I looked down at the ground I could see every vintage of cow pats all around. It came to me. This was the cows drinking point. With luck they would be thirsty and forget about me.
I continued on, and true to my expectations, most headed down to the River for a drink. Other stood and looked at me uncertain whether to follow or refresh themselves. The few that followed slowed their progress to nibble on grass – that long walk had sapped their energy!