Sunday, 27 November 2011

Water Meadow

Several times a year visitors to Petersham are reminded of a time when Petersham Meadows were frequently flooded.
 Visitors are clearly warned but most don’t see the sign. The clue is in the name, River Lane.
 The meadows themselves are protected by a low wall along the river and an earth bank along River Lane.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The End of Another Season

All the cows departed safely and another season draws to an end.
The National Trust was quick to remove all their signage but these posts remain as a reminder of the dog attack and the ‘temporary’ electric fence.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Last Day of the Season

The herd make the most of the lasts days on the meadow
All in their winter coats: Little Bull and the other calves forage under the Oriental Plain

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

2 days to go

The clocks have gone back and the first day of winter has arrived. In two days the herd will be off to their winter home
At this time of year the herdsman provides extra feed as the grazing declines
The cows are due to calf soon and this additional feed is quickly consumed

Monday, 31 October 2011

3 days to go

Picture this scene of calves enjoying their first summer on Petersham Meadows
Last seen June 2011
Charolais with her bull calf
The National Trust plan will rob us of enjoying this magical sight again

Sunday, 30 October 2011

4 days to go

 “But we can’t ignore the fact that, whether through pressures of time or physical access, as a nation we seem to be increasingly disconnected from the fabric of the country and there is a real danger of a ‘generational gap’ opening up where young people feel terrified at the prospect of going into the countryside” 

Beware countryside ahead

Saturday, 29 October 2011

5 days to go

Just a small hop from Petersham Meadows is the ‘peaceful respite’ of Richmond Park; well that’s how the Royal Parks describe it. Richmond Park is home to about 650 deer, roaming free with people, their dogs and horses, bicycles and even cars. The deer are wild but accustomed to sharing their home with others. The Royal Parks asks visitors to ‘Always keep a respectful distance’ from the deer.
 Red Deer Stag, Richmond Park

The National Trust on the other hand considers Petersham Meadows a place of danger. Each weekend a temporary electric fence creates ‘a buffer between the cows and the public walking their dogs’.
 Cows grazing by the Thames

Friday, 28 October 2011

6 days to go

After many seasons, Amanda, Fluffy and other members of the Petersham herd are comfortable sharing the meadows with people walking, cycling, picnicking, etc. They are mild-mannered and of good temperament with the public.
Fluffy & Amanda

When the National Trust announced that a new herd will be introduced next year the local community expressed their concerns. A group of yearlings, one cannot call them a herd, would change every year and no relationship would form between them, the public, herdsman or NT volunteers. It is difficult to see the logic for this change.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

7 days to go

The View from Richmond Hill across Petersham Meadows to the Thames and beyond is the only view protected by Act of Parliament. In 2010 the National Trust became the custodians for the nation and received a large endowment from public and private donations.

This great honour is marked on the National Trust website by just one page, ‘Fencing the cows at Petersham Meadows’.
Why are Petersham Meadows and this world famous view with cows grazing by the Thames of such little interest to the National Trust?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

8 days to go

At the public meeting in July, the National Trust was made acutely aware of the public dissatisfaction with their management of Petersham Meadows. It would appear that as the season draws to a close and the farmer prepares to move the cows to their winter home the National Trust continues to manage the meadows in complete indifference to public opinion. The current herd of cows and calves, many of which have been grazing the meadow for several years, will be replaced next year by yearlings.  If dogs are going to be banned from the meadows next year, why are the cows and their calves also being banned?

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

9 days to go

‘We will also be introducing a new herd to the meadow from next year which should also help limit any future dangers’ – Geri Silverstone, External Affairs Consultant (London & South East) National Trust
 Welcome to the danger zone

Why when the cows were attacked by an illegal breed of dog which was off the lead do they pay the price by being excluded from the meadow?

Monday, 24 October 2011

10 days to go

The National Trust does not want me to return with my calf next spring.
 This herd has been grazing the meadow for ten seasons and no member of the public has reported any injury.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Apple Time

Line-up and keep your eye on the man with the box. If you’re lucky its full of apples
What a good place to have a neck scratcher. Always useful while you wait for an apple
With so many keen mouths to feed the herdsman needs to offer the apples two at a time
After your apple its off to the west end for a drink
Being part of a herd means doing things together even if there’s not enough space at the trough

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Autumn Mist

Dry clear sunny October days give way to cold nights and misty mornings
 As Petersham Meadows are situated on the Thames flood plan and at the foot of Richmond Hill morning mists often linger late
The lazy autumn sun peeks through the mist illuminating the Duchess’s rich red coat

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Monday Morning

For the herdsman there are always two jobs on a Monday morning. Following the installation of the ‘temporary fence’ by the National Trust the herd has been corralled every weekend this year. Come Monday morning the herd line-up and wait patiently for the herdsman to open a gap in the fence. Then while the herd slowly stroll out of the enclosure into meadow the herdsman clears away the weekend litter.
The herd waiting to reclaim the meadow
 Ian the herdsman clearing away the weekend rubbish

Friday, 16 September 2011

Signs of Autumn

The swallows have fledged and will soon be heading south. Will we see the family back next year?
With shorter days and cooler nights autumn has arrived on Petersham Meadows. As the swallows prepare to leave a large flock of Canada Geese has arrived to take up its winter residence. 

Canada Geese are present year round on the Thames and in nearby Richmond Park. In the cooler months they are a common sight grazing the meadows.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

London-Surrey Cycle Classic

As part of the London Prepares series the London 2012 Olympic Organising Committee staged several test events this week. The Petersham Herd passed their crucial assessment by remaining relaxed as the 150 riders in the London-Surrey Cycle Classic passed by the eastern boundary. The event was won by Mark Cavendish. The Olympic Road Race will follow the same route next year.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Herd

Some of the current Petersham herd have enjoyed summer grazing on the meadows for a decade. Several breeds are represented among the nine cows grazing this year. Eight of the nine calves were sired by an Aberdeen Angus bull.

Murray Gray (above) is of Australian origin from a cross between Aberdeen Angus and Shorthorn cattle. As a breed their ability to adapt rapidly and thrive in most climates coupled with their superior feed conversion as made them the second largest beef breed in Australia. They are also known for their mild manner and very good maternal abilities.

Charolais (above left) or white cattle from the old French provinces of Charolles and Nievre were first recorded more than a thousand years ago. These are sometimes known as Nivemais cattle. The breed first arrived in the UK in the late 1950s and was quickly accepted. They have exceptional growth rates and provide good hybrid vigour when crossed with English breeds. They have an outstanding temperament which makes them very good to handle.

Sussex (above centre) is an ancient breed once found throughout southern England in the forests of the Weald in Kent and Sussex. The Normans described them after the invasion of 1066 and it is thought that the Sussex descended from horned ‘red cows’. Once bred as draught oxen when bullocks were used to work the land. When replaced by horses Sussex cattle continued to be bred for beef. Their legacy as draft animals has produced a breed that is reasonably easy to handle.

The Aberdeen Angus (above left) name is known throughout the world although they were only developed in the early 19th Century from the polled and predominantly black cattle of north-east Scotland. The favourite Aberdeen Angus bull of Hugh Watson, a tenant of Keillor in Angus, was Old Jock who is recorded in the Scotch Herd Book as number one. This naturally polled breed is renowned for its quiet temperament. The Angus breed has very strong maternal traits and produce abundant milk.

Simmental (above) cattle were first bred in the Simme Valley, Switzerland in the Middle Ages. Simmental are the result of a cross between a small Swiss breed and larger German cattle. Generations of selection, more recently for milk or beef, has produced a breed that is docile with good mothering traits and is now very popular throughout the world.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Winter Summer

Last winter was the coldest for a generation with heavy snow in mid December. Nearby, snow closed Heathrow Airport and for two days the meadow was uncharacteristically quiet.

This spring was the driest since records began. By late June the meadow already appears like high summer.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Mythical Petersham Bull in the Sunday Telegraph

The National Trust decision to corral the Petersham herd was reported in the Sunday Telegraph today.

National Trust fences off cows over fears of risk to public – The National Trust has been accused of "grossly overreacting" by removing cows from a historic meadow and placing them in a fenced-off enclosure because of the apparent risk they pose to the public. Locals have criticised the decision. Sue Jones, a councillor whose ward includes the meadows, said the decision to enclose the cows for long periods was "ludicrous".

The ‘girls’ are interested to meet the handsome bull featured in the Sunday Telegraph.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Temporary Fencing

In early May a dog off the lead attacked the herd. Consequently the National Trust had a temporary fence installed to corral the herd at weekends. A review of the presence of the herd on the meadow followed. The review outcome was to introduce additional temporary fencing for use at weekends, bank and school holidays.
Mike (the farmer), Ian (the herdsman) and Colin erected the new fence on Friday with the cows looking on.
Early Saturday morning, Lin and Alan helped the herdsman lead the cows into the new enclosure.
Visitors view the herd behind the electric fence.