What’s going on with the lawn?

It could never have claimed to be a bowling green. That would be quite an ask, on such a damp and shady site. But it’s never looked as bad as this before. Suddenly it’s full of holes and got that way in the space of a day.

We had a trip out last week and didn’t get back until well after dark. The next morning, while drying my hair, I happened to glance across the lawn directly below the window. Squirrels? Even by their standards they’d have had to be going it some. Then I saw Mike go out and take a closer look.


Damage to lawn 012 Wm


Big holes. Big feet. Slip sliding around in the mud.

His first thought was a hunt. We’ve had hounds running across the garden before, but never the horses as well. And surely, isn’t that against the rules? Along with a friend from the village Mike went off tracking. The lawn is in three sections, every bit churned up. They found the same big footprints right through the woodland, down by the river and back up to the raised beds.


Damage to lawn 015 Wm


Whatever animal it was had clearly stopped here for a snack.

Outside the garden we inspected the fences and found a potential hole accompanied by enough footprints to suggest nothing less than a passing herd. Even those with frankly zero experience of tracking, that would be us then, could have managed to follow the evidence. We called it a day after the first two fields.

Damage to lawn 001 Wm

What do you reckon?

I’m thinking cow..


2018-02-08T21:07:07+00:00November 4th, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Amy at love made my home November 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    To start with I was thinking badgers, but that is not a badger footprint!! I think you are right, cows!! How on earth do they get into your garden though? I thought you were surrounded by water and trees and slopes, not at all cow friendly I would have thought! Hope that you get it all sorted out. At least it isn’t the squirrels gone mad!

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 5:56 pm - Reply

      There are a couple of farms around, beyond the trees, that have cows and they do graze some pretty steep slopes! Maybe the squirrels have grown large feet. Anything’s possible with them..

  2. Cumbrian November 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    Looks a bit like a cows foot-print, Why not follow the line of tracks and see if you can find the vandals?

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      We followed it across two fields, no sign, and then the rain came down!

  3. Natalie November 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    Unicorn? 🙂

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      Then I have no chance of catching it..

  4. Janet/Plantaliscious November 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Track it down and turn it in to steak, cottage pie etc. The very cheek of it. I remember when I was about 4 a herd of cows got lose from a local field and trampled all over the little close we lived in, churned up all the front gardens something rotten. Very scary to a 4 year old too!

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Just about got enough sprouts left to go with it!
      My uncle had a farm which I used to visit as a kid. Cows seemed very big indeed.

  5. Rosie November 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Well, at first I was thinking badger because they can make such a mess, then perhaps deer but after seeing the footprint I think you may be right about it being a cow:)

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm - Reply

      Our neighbour told me there is a sett somewhere in the wood, but I’ve never found it so have always assumed it has been abandoned. You never know..

  6. Denise November 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Crickey! Well, I am going out on a non-cow limb here to suggest something a little more exotic – elk, moose or gnu. I hope it is a gnu, because ‘gnu’ is one of my favourite words to say. I shall be sorely disappointed if it does transpire to be a cow. Not in my line of creative expectation at all.

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Gnu is indeed a lovely word. Aren’t they a bit like a wildebeest? Obviously took the wrong sign post after the Serengeti.

  7. Em November 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    I’m thinking cow too. They do untold damage to the moor when they’re out here in the summer but it does recover eventually!

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      If the ground weren’t so soggy we’d roll it, but maybe not such a good idea at the moment!
      I love to see the Galloways out on the moor though.

  8. countrysidetales November 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Bison 🙂

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      Abominable snowman? Winter’s going to be hard, they say..

  9. Denise November 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm - Reply


    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      A Water Gruffalo would be well at home.

  10. Jenny November 4, 2013 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    I’ve no idea, but wondered whether the height of the nibbling would give you a clue as to the size of the invader?

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      4 to 5 feet above the ground. So I can’t pin it on the mice this time either!

  11. Jo November 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    I was going to say deer but I think it would be too dainty to make such a footprint. I think you should follow the tracks and see where they lead you.

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      Yes, it’s a bigfoot. The print is about five inches across. I shall have to have another go at following the tracks. As it’s at least two fields away though, something was out for a good long walk.

  12. Cathy November 4, 2013 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    I’m with Natalie and Denise, Jessica – if you are going to get your lawn churned up and your sprouts eaten it’s a bit boring if it turns out to be only a cow. Definitely needs to be more exotic – Santa’s reindeer practising for next (no, surely not?!) month, perhaps?

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      No sled marks.. and no presents left by way of apology.
      Which is another strange thing. The cow (?) was obviously in the garden quite a long time, but there isn’t one pile of poop anywhere..

  13. colleen November 4, 2013 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    At least it didn’t bring its friends…

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      Yet. I hope we’re not now on the circuit. Tasty sprouts and all that.

  14. BadPenny November 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    My mother had this too & cows were the culprits !

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:42 pm - Reply

      I hope she didn’t get too much damage. At least here the flower beds are fairly inaccessible. Although at one point the cow (?) may have climbed a set of steps.

  15. Vintage Jane November 4, 2013 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Some ghoulish creature that has followed you from the castle … !

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm - Reply


  16. justjilluk November 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    I hope you find out as this is really puzzling me. Cows dont tend to wander alone so your beautiful garden would have been wrecked. Most odd. Theres something about your garden that attracts all the animals. You aint got cannabis plants in there have you? We regularly get magnificent specimens from the bird food!

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      There is cannabis in bird food? No wonder they get through so much..

  17. Sue@GLAllotments November 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    I too at first thought badger. What about a deer – do you get deer nearby. A deer could jump a fence – but there again a cow can jump over the moon can;t it? 🙂

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm - Reply

      We do get deer in the garden. It was one of my first thoughts too.. I wish I’d been here to see what it was, a cow might certainly have been jumping then!

  18. Gill November 4, 2013 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Looks like a cow print – coincidentally we had 8 cows loose in the village at the weekend! Luckily it wasn’t my garden they made themselves at home in!!!

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 7:06 pm - Reply

      That doesn’t bear thinking about…

  19. Anny November 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    If you’ve got sprout eating cows, beware of naked flames…

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 7:07 pm - Reply

      Oh my goodness… good point!!

  20. Wendy November 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    My first thought was badgers, too – if there were signs of digging. But from your photo it does look like something with a cloven hoof. If it’s large then maybe cow or red deer? Perhaps you’ll have the opportunity to go tracking again and follow the trail to the guilty creature.

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      I hadn’t thought of red deer. I’ve just checked the distribution maps with the British Deer Society and they have been increasing in numbers down here.. it would solve the mystery as described by Jill, but they would need to have very big hooves. Prints are almost five inches across..

      • Sue@GLAllotments November 5, 2013 at 9:09 am - Reply

        If the prints were in soft ground they could be larger than the animal’s foot as the print my have spread under its weight

        • Jessica November 5, 2013 at 10:33 am - Reply

          You’re right Sue. As soon as the rain stops I will go and have another look.

  21. Sarah November 4, 2013 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Your mystery visitor has obviously heard how lovely your garden is from all the other visitors you have encountered! I am impressed with your detective skills!
    Sarah x

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      Still practicing detective skills… will need to go out on the trail again methinks!

  22. Crafty Gardener November 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    I thought racoon or skunk as we’ve had them do that to our lawn. But their feet aren’t that big. Hope you solve who the mysterious visitor is.

    • Jessica November 4, 2013 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda, I hope so too… I was only talking last week about getting a wildlife cam. It would have solved the mystery if I’d done it.

  23. frayed at the edge November 4, 2013 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Oh dear, your poor lawn! We had sheep in the back garden once – the clever things escaped from the field the day the gate into the garden was open because we had visitors!
    Dont’ forget if it was a cow, as well as steaks, stews etc, you coan also have some nice new leather shoes!

    • Jessica November 5, 2013 at 10:19 am - Reply

      Poor lawn indeed. The cow obviously got wind of Mike’s love of steak, it made sure it was well away before we got home!

  24. CJ November 4, 2013 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Maybe a passing donkey. Hope it doesn’t come back.

    • Jessica November 5, 2013 at 10:19 am - Reply

      Now, I’ve always wanted a donkey. Or two..

  25. Simone November 4, 2013 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Is that a cloven hoof print!!! Whatever the creature was it must have gone on the rampage! Maybe you should get a CCTV camera installed? That could be a job for Mike!

    • Jessica November 5, 2013 at 10:23 am - Reply

      I have been seriously looking at a wildlife cam. It could solve all manner of garden mysteries! Trouble is they are not cheap.

  26. nataliescarberry November 5, 2013 at 3:04 am - Reply

    Oh my, whatever it was did have a grand old time making a mess of things. I vote for the cow too, but who knows. Maybe it will make a repeat visit while you are there. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

    • Jessica November 5, 2013 at 10:27 am - Reply

      If only we had not been out that day I would most likely have got a good photo of it. For the last week or so I’ve had the camera trained on the lawn to try and capture squirrel antics.

      • nataliescarberry November 6, 2013 at 2:54 am - Reply

        Squirrels were my first thought because they have been digging holes all over my lawn and flower beds, but then up close you could see it was something much bigger than a squirrel. Oh I do wish you’d had the camera on too. I’d love to know what did all that. Maybe will come back and before you run it off get some photos. Natalie 🙂

        • Jessica November 6, 2013 at 9:38 am - Reply

          I will certainly be trying my best! Camera is back on station..

  27. Pauline November 5, 2013 at 8:33 am - Reply

    I first thought badger, but then the footprint looks more cow like. Your lawn should recover in time. We once apparently had a horse running round on our lawn with half the village trying to catch it. This was during the night and we slept through it all! The lawn was a mess next morning and I was wondering what had happened until one of the men called to tell us what had been going on. The lawn was fine by the following spring.

    • Jessica November 5, 2013 at 10:29 am - Reply

      Good to know the lawn will recover, thanks Pauline. You must be a sound sleeper!

  28. andreamynard November 5, 2013 at 10:31 am - Reply

    I was going to suggest muntjac (we’ve had them in the garden here this week) until I saw that foot/hoof print. Blimey, that’s big! I’m with you on not desiring a bowling green lawn or even perfect plants/veggies, and I’m happy for our garden to provide food for wildlife – it just miffs me when they leave none for us! Starting to be the time of year when this is likely too.

    • Jessica November 5, 2013 at 10:43 am - Reply

      I love to see animals and birds in the garden, but they’re all a mixed blessing! Ours is definitely a wild lawn… I rather like to see the daises and buttercups too but on that point I differ from Mike. One daisy up and he’s got the mower out.

  29. steph@woolythyme November 5, 2013 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    you and your critters!!! (we have friends who have a herd of buffalo….one found an open gate, and the whole herd followed—right down the lane and on to the highway. I’m sorry I missed that scene.) Do you think there could have been more than one????

    • Jessica November 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      Only one I think, but it walked around a lot!
      I hope your friends’ buffalo were unharmed.

  30. Sue. November 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    I think it is Mrs Moo and friends. My farmer friend cows escaped from their field and took off on a 5 mile jaunt to the next village. Their calved had been taken away that day and they had gone looking for them, perhaps that might explain your churned up garden.

    I am going to plants tulips bulbs tomorrow, have bought a lot from Peter Nyssen. So easy with the add button


    • Jessica November 5, 2013 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      Now you mention it, there has been a lot of mooing lately which means either the calves have been separated, or there is a bull in the field.
      Enjoy the bulb planting. I’m thinking of trying some in large pots, where I can protect them with chicken wire until they come up.

  31. Linda November 6, 2013 at 1:04 am - Reply

    I have no bloody idea!!!
    But…it sure made for an interesting read!
    Great comments…♥

    Linda :o)

    • Jessica November 6, 2013 at 9:37 am - Reply

      The mystery is part of the animal’s appeal! Thanks Linda.

  32. Charlie@Seattle Trekker November 6, 2013 at 4:25 am - Reply

    The prints are way to large to be any of the usual culprits, it has to be something as large as a cow.

    • Jessica November 6, 2013 at 9:40 am - Reply

      Yep. Cow or very large deer. After that I’m getting worried…. !

      • Simone November 6, 2013 at 7:00 pm - Reply


        • Jessica November 6, 2013 at 9:29 pm - Reply

          That would be excellent timing. There are some apples I can’t reach at the top of the tree..

  33. snowbird November 6, 2013 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Yeti???? Omg….I’d be sobbing if that happened to mine….hope it recovers.xxxx

    • Jessica November 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      There’s always something isn’t there, even without dogs!

  34. Caro November 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    I wouldn’t be looking for the creature that made the mess, I’d be looking to patch up the hole in the fence! Or get some twiggy and barbed shrubs in the gap!! Curious that there was no poo … at least you could have scooped it up and added to the compost!

    • Jessica November 6, 2013 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      I know, after everything else they could at least have left me some poo!

  35. Janice Cooke (@jabblog) November 7, 2013 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Goodness me, what a puzzle. Could a cow get into your garden and why only one – don’t they travel in herds? I hope you find the culprit and persuade it of the error of its ways:-)

    • Jessica November 7, 2013 at 11:22 am - Reply

      It is odd that it travelled alone.. we followed the tracks back across two fields and only found one set all that way. It must have been seriously lost. And where it got in would have taken a determined effort too. On the plus side, it hasn’t been back!

  36. Antoinette November 8, 2013 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    My thought was red deer, but the footprint does look very cow-like. Maybe a young bullock who went on an adventure? Or what about a pig?
    We get roe deer and have to be very protective of our fruit trees [greedy so and so’s] but I wouldn’t miss them for the world.
    I’d get a wildlife cam–Amazon have them.

    • Jessica November 9, 2013 at 12:07 am - Reply

      Roe deer here too. I wouldn’t mind the odd bit of pilfering, as long as they left me some, but watch your bark. Signs they’ve been stripping it here. The wildlife cam is on my Christmas list.

  37. Bilbowaggins November 12, 2013 at 8:28 am - Reply

    Sorry I missed this one – have you unmasked the culprit yet? Cows don’t tend to travel alone, nor visit without leaving ‘presents’ but 5 inches is a hell of a big footprint for any deer, even if the print has spread in soft ground.

    Will await the next instalment with interest.

    • Jessica November 12, 2013 at 12:13 pm - Reply

      It would appear that a farm down the road lost some cows at about the same time. One must have got separated and was trying to find its mates. I don’t know what happened to them, unfortunately. Hope they’re all OK.

I'd love to hear from you..