Walking for Weight Loss on the Farm
In the article I’ll tell you about Walking for Weight Loss on the Farm. In Europe when walking for weight loss the only large animals you are likely to encounter are farm animals. Deer and wild boar are likely not to want to encounter you very much, although you must be aware that they are around.
In the UK we have a law called ‘Right to Roam’ which means that people can enter private property for the purposes of , would you believe, roaming. Generally they must keep to footpaths, but the only person able to police this is the landowner who may find himself in unpleasant confrontations if he reminds people they cannot use his land as a playground.
The problem is that there are fitness walkers who think of the countryside as an urban park with sheep, so problems can occur. Avoiding them is easy enough.
Cattle are generally benevolent beasts which delight in not doing very much. But, like most animals they will defend their young. There have been cases of walkers being killed by irate cows, who object to their cuddly new born calves being petted by strangers. There is a perception that bulls are dangerous, cows are safe. This is not quite right, so take care with cows as well. Bulls are fairly predictable. A bull in a field of cows is unlikely to be aggressive. Why should he be? He is a happy bull.
A bull in a field by himself may be a problem, but is likely to be harmless. Just treat him with respect and be aware that he can move quite fast if he really wants to.
If you see a sign ‘Beware of the Bull,’ near your ‘Right to Roam’ footpath it is probably illegal. But it is your decision whether you ignore it or not.
From the farmer’s point of view the real problem with walkers is their dogs. They must be kept on a tight lead if there are animals about. I am sure dog owners have the best of intensions, but most of them have no idea whatsoever about how to train a dog. If a dog is off the lead and needs to be restrained it must come when called. If not it is a menace. How many dogs do you know which come when called every time? I suspect very few.
A dog can spook cattle and horses, but it can devastate sheep. One loose dog in the lambing season can affect a farmer’s livelihood. He is quite entitled to shoot it, and probably will.
Horses are not a problem. But don’t feed them. A horse will soon learn to follow walkers for food and although unlikely to harm them can be a nuisance. Also the owner would prefer the horse not to be given unsuitable food.
This has been about Europe, where wilderness areas are fewer and wild animals less dramatic than in other parts of the world. But even in Europe if your free ranging dog encounters a wild boar with young in the woods he will find he is not quite so high up the food chain as he thought he was. Try not to put him in that position.
So that’s it really. Enjoy your walking for weight loss, close gates, keep your dog on a lead, respect farm and wild animals, take your rubbish home and do try to understand the difficulties of landowners. They will welcome you if you just keep to these simple rules.