Years ago, someone invited my kids on a play date at a horrible play area for children. It’s called Kid’s Kingdom. It’s an outdoor jungle gym type thing made out of some sort of wood and looks like a castle, complete with holes in the floor of the bridges big enough to pour boiling oil through. Which means big enough for small children to lean over and tumble through to their deaths.
No, I’m not kidding. Right above the tire swing, is a bridge. On the bridge is a gigantic hole, with a rail around it, just beckoning to the unwary child to peer over the rail and go top-heavy over the side, landing on their heads on any kids on the tire swing. And the kids on the tire swing would probably just keep on swinging.
Kids are like that when they play. I learned that lesson young, and I learned it well. When I was 5 years old, I went on a slide in the playground. Playgrounds were also places of danger and mayhem when I was a child, just as they are today. Back then, we didn’t have holes designed to send us plummeting to our dooms, we just had 350 degree sheets of shiny metal to slide our pudgy little legs down. Those slides used to hurt!
But one day, when I was five, the slide wasn’t hot enough to bake cookies on because it has recently rained, so we had a chance to play on it. I was crawling up the slide, instead of sliding down. Dumb move.
A little girl with yarn bows in her hair was at the top and wanted to slide down. I could see the selfish, intent gleam in her beady little eyes. She was going to slide down, and she was going to slide down now and nothing was going to get in her way. Certainly not the dumb little girl trying to climb up the slide.
I tried to scramble down as fast as I could, but I wasn’t fast enough. As she rushed toward me, her black and white saddle shoes growing larger and larger straight at my forehead, I remember thinking, “Fall on the dirt side; not in the mud puddle! Fall on the dirt side, not in the mud pudd…SPLASH!” Right in the mud puddle.
Anyway, this Kid’s Kingdom is outdoors and is wooden and shaped like a castle, complete with windy steps and secret passageways. The thing covers about 10 acres and if you set your kid loose in it, you won’t find her for weeks. I had to stuff the kids’ pockets with food, give them a compass and wish them luck before I let them play.
Plus, the only bathroom facilities are Porta-Potties. Shudder.
I used to hate going to that place. I was so paranoid that my kids would die down the hole, or get kidnapped when I couldn’t find them in all those secret passageways, or, worst of all, have to use the porta-potty that we almost never went there when they were young enough to enjoy it.
But that’s not what this blog is about.
This blog is about what’s on the way to Kid’s Kingdom. On the way to Kid’s Kingdom are some fields with Scottish Highland Cattle. Until I moved here and took my children to the Castle of Doom, I hadn’t seen Scottish Highland Cattle since I was in, well…Scotland.
My parents lived in England for two years when I was very young, and one time we popped up into Scotland. Incidentally, are they any people on earth who have a better sounding accent than Scottish people? No. The answer is No. A resounding No. Even French accents aren’t as charming as Scottish accents.
And as a small child, I was besotted with the cattle. They were so furry. I loved them. And now, whenever I drive by them, I stare at them and wish the road had an actual shoulder so I could stop and take pictures of these beautiful animals. But people zoom along the road and there is no shoulder, so…no pictures.
But then! Then! Leah joined photo club! And Leah is friends with Russell. And Russell works on the highland cattle farm. Do you see where this is going?!
Leah asked Russell if she could come take pictures of the cattle, and he said yes! And I asked if I could tag along and he said yes!
And here is where I begin posting a billion pictures of these cattle. I took 350 shots today, so this is just a small sample of these gorgeous animals:
(You can click on the pictures to see them larger. I usually right-click and then open in a new tab to view.)
Incidentally, the kids and I do not call this place Apple Hill Farm. We call it Poo Land. When my mother visited, we drove by Poo Land. We told her, “We’re coming up on Poo Land. Be ready to look out your window.”
Apparently, she mistook Poo Land for Pooh Land and thought we were about to pass a sweet little Winnie-the-Pooh museum or kids’ park or something.
Remember that scene in Jurassic Park with the poo in the field? Yup. That’s Poo Land. See:
This is Russell. He reminds me of the farmer in Babe. He’s tall and skinny and ruddy faced. That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.
To get you going, here’s what these cattle look like. Forgive me, but the picture is a bit artsy. I couldn’t help myself. I wanted the picture to give you a sense of the brightness of the day and the fluffiness of the cattle, because it was such a nice day.
Actually, that’s not true. It wasn’t a nice day. It was boiling hot. 99 degrees, and we were standing in a field surrounded by 900 pound animals and 9000 pound piles of poo. We were sweaty and red. I brought a container of ice water and rags for the boys to dip in the water and squeeze over their heads. It was HOT. But it was all worth it, because the picture’s nice.
Russell brought buckets of food so the animals would come near us for pictures. You do not want to bring this cow home to meet your mother. Her table manners were atrocious. She would grab a big bite of food, and then snuffle it out all over the place.
Drinking was no better:
But Russell loves these animals anyway. We asked if we could touch them, and he said that he gives them hugs all the time. Awww!
You could see how much he loved the animals and they loved him. This black one is named Sweetie and he raised her from when she was very young. But then again, he said they call all the animals Sweetie. “Because they’re all so sweet,” he said. Awww! Don’t you just want to give them all hugs, too?
Sweetie didn’t want a hug from me, but another cow did give me a kiss. There I was, trying to take a picture of a cow’s face when…
Not on my lens! Not on my lens! Not on my lens!!
I managed to get my lens away in time. But a few minutes later, she came up behind me and gave me a sloppy grass-filled wet kiss on the arm. I couldn’t decide if I was enchanted that the cow kissed me, or disgusted by all the slobber. Leah got a picture of it. If she sends it to me I’ll show you the slobbery grass stuck to my arm.
We were very close to the animals. Here’s Leah giving Sweetie a pet. We were so close we had to be careful to dodge the cow’s horns as we were taking pictures. I wasn’t so worried about myself. I was worried about Alex. I’ll bruise and heal. Alex would smash to bits.
And yes, the cattle in the above pictures are females and called cows, even though they have horns. I didn’t know that females could have horns.
Then again, this is a bull. And he doesn’t have horns. He has HORNS.
And here are a few more, just for fun:
And a last shot of Russell, heading home after a long day of working with the cattle: