We’ve already delivered sets of our Ghost Cow Night print coasters and place mats to a couple of bed & bed breakfasts near Keld and were delighted to see them in use at one over the weekend. Looking very smart we thought.
Well, the night arrived and the weather was so kind to us, cold but clear with only a light breeze. Nearly a hundred people turned up and stood in the dark beside Myers Bottom cowhouse in Keld and watched the magnificent ghost cows (and calves) wend their way down off Kisdon Hill as a local choir sang their specially composed song calling them in for the winter.
It was a truly magical sight, with one visitor quite carried away and remarking that we ought to have left some hay out for them once they were stabled in the cowhouse for the night.
Project Co-ordinator Karen Griffiths had this to say as she introduced the night:
“Over the past two years it’s been my privilege and absolute pleasure to work with many of you on the Every Barn (or should I say, cowhouse!) Tells a Story project.
As I researched the history of these iconic Swaledale buildings and above all, as I listened to the voices of the last of you to actually use them for your cattle, I began to carry those stories around with me….
Stories of taking the cows out to their summer pastures in the spring, of spreading muck on the meadows, of milking cows up on Kisdon Side, of haytiming and the hot dusty work treading hay down in the mew. And finally, memories of bringing the cattle down off the hills at the back end of the year and tying them in their booses, followed by cold winter mornings and dark winter evenings watering, foddering and mucking them out.
Every time I opened the door and stepped into one of these empty, silent cowhouses, those stories followed me like ghosts. And so the idea for Ghost Cow Night was born, and what I hope will be a fitting celebration for the end of a truly magical project.”
After everyone admired the ghost cows snugly housed for the night, we then walked up to Keld Public Hall for a fabulous hog roast followed by traditional fruit pies plus lots of chat and some more singing and reciting of Swardle dialect poems. A thoroughly enjoyable and appropriate celebration of the end of the Every Barn Tells a Story project.
Yesterday we braved the gloom and steady rain to test out the Ghost Cow route and make final adjustments to the order of ceremonies. While the rangers were busy banging in guide posts with reflective discs on along the chosen route we tested out the electrics on the cows and calves.
We ended up drying off back in the Winter self-service tea facilities in Keld Public Hall – we can thoroughly recommend the banana bread!
After rather a long wait (it’s a long way from Hebden Bridge to Keld), our Ghost Cows and their calves (and not forgetting the dog) arrived last week.
They are now safely stored away, appropriately enough in a nearby empty cowhouse awaiting the big night.
This picture reminded us of a description of a local dog that we recorded in one of our audio sessions with four local women.
“When we had these little cow’usses they did get out to drink twice a day but the rest of the day they were tied up with a chain ..in the booses. Calves, they were all kept together , they were loose, you might have 4 or 5 in a calf box. Same building, they were bedded out …you used to milk the cows, to feed it back to the calves ..they didn’t seem to think to let the calves suckle!” “No, they were too wild. The calf didn’t like it out of the bucket so you put your hand in and in its mouth to get it to drink. You tried to lead them if you wanted to show them at Muker Show. You put a halter on them. They weren’t wild like today. You took a dog to round them up…you don’t go with a dog today in among any cows. Then you used your dog. We used to have a dog that used to swing on cow’s tails!”
We have been busy turning Helen Peyton’s lovely ‘Ghost Cow Night’ artwork into items for local visitor businesses to use with their guests. First to arrive today were sets of coasters which we really like.
These were requested as additional items to the mugs and placemats we’d already planned. Businesses intend to use them in guest bedrooms.
We think they will look really stylish matched with a mug using the same design
We’ve already distributed nearly 100 free walk packs to local visitor businesses and organisations for loan out to visitors. We were delighted to see this blogpost from Bed & Breakfast owner and project stalwart Glenda Calvert about one of her regular guests. She told us:
“My guest from the Netherlands who has visited Pry House and the Yorkshire Dales many times took a walk booklet out with him yesterday. Until now he had no idea the buildings were cowhouses and on return from his walk said he now looked at the cowhouses with fresh eyes and a new interest”
Our retail staff have just uploaded details of the rather fabulous ‘Every Barn… ‘ walk packs onto our online shop so anyone can now own one wherever they are in the world! Follow our ONLINE SHOP link to secure a set of our six colourful walk booklets based on all the stories and historical research that we’ve gathered over the past two years.
All packaged inside a branded waterproof plastic wallet. There are hand drawn maps of all the routes and every stopping point is illustrated with a clear photograph. A wonderful souvenir of the project even if you prefer your holidays sat beside a nice log fire in the local pub ;0)