myd51968-img_1322Cow’us  or Cowuss  (n).  pl  Cow’uses.   Term used in Swaledale and other parts of the Dales for a field barn or ‘cow-house’.

It is essential to understand that while the term ‘barn’ is casually [commonly] used to describe any farm building where hay and perhaps livestock are kept, a specialist (whether the farmer or researcher ) will differentiate between a range of different buildings in farming use.  As well as ‘cowuss’, you may encounter ‘hogg houses’ and sheep houses’ (n.b. hoggs are young sheep – not pigs!).

You might find (in Swaledale at least) that using the word ‘barn’ will get you a blank look if you’re talking about a cow’us..

Building on the Legacy

Running parallel to the EBTAS project, money provided through a Legacy is being used to conserve a number of barns in Muker Parish.

Four out of a potential eight potential building projects that have been initiated in the last month.  Although most of the work on the ground is not likely to start until spring, Gaby and Peter (the National Park Authority’s Building Conservation Officers ) have been developing specifications for the building works – assessing the barns in detail, and figuring out exactly what practical work is needed to restore the barns to top shape for the next few decades.

Alongside the assessment of building works, the barns also need to be surveyed for bats, which are protected under law – so a contractor is busy planning and undertaking  visits to make sure that the building works do not inadvertently disturb bat roosts.