Much as I love the rain, the mud and the all-round convivial vibe, it was meeting Rocky that really switched me on to the joys of rural life.
I first saw him at 8am on the eve of last week's Royal Highland Show. Yes, I know our fields are full of gorgeous prime beef cattle but – at the risk of sounding like a starry-eyed townie – being up close and personal was a completely different experience.
The sun was shining and as I gazed out over the cattle shed ... my world, dear reader, tilted on its axis. Here were hundreds of the most magnificent specimens of bestial masculinity you could hope to meet. Massive, muscular, cream-coloured Charolais. Big black Aberdeen Angus. Cute Ayrshires. Limousins. Holsteins. Hunky Belted Galloways. It was thrilling to be able to watch as they woke up to be prepped for the show. The dairy cows were having their legs shaved and their tails tonged, the better to draw attention to their feminine attributes. But all the bulls needed was a bit of a wash.
Rocky – the one-ton, red-haired beef shorthorn bull who stole my heart – was lying on his straw bed awaiting his turn for a shower. Like all the others, his massive bum was facing outwards so that when you spoke to him you had to address the back wall of the stall to make him look at you. As he did so, he coyly revealed his beautiful blinking eyes. I never got to see him being soaped; sometimes it's best to know when to walk away. But I did get to smell the coconut oil shampoo that would bring up the shine on his coat.
The pride of the farmers and breeders who look after Scotland's wonderful, productive beasts was palpable. It made me feel proud of our agricultural heritage. Now I'll never look at a field of cows in the same way again.
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