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.