It’s the hottest new wellness experience: three hours petting the retired dairy cows at Dumble Farm in East Yorkshire. Even at £50, the tickets sell out almost instantly
When I think of cows, I don’t think relaxation; I think of anxiously peering over country gates or scuttling round the perimeter of fields, whispering: “Please don’t hurt me.” They’re huge, aren’t they? I’m not anti-cow, but I wouldn’t put them up there with a bubble bath and a vodka and tonic. Yet here I am, leaning against the warm flank of a dairy cross called Soft Face, my pulse slowing as I sense a ton of black-and-white bovine breathe gently beneath me. We’re both lying in the sweet-smelling hay in a quiet barn; Soft Face is “cudding” – regurgitating then chewing her lunch – while I stroke her face (as silky as her name suggests). I am deeply, blissfully relaxed.
Forget goat yoga and welcome to cow cuddling, a wellness experience like no other offered by an unlikely trio of therapists: brother and sister farmers Fiona Wilson and James McCune and Fi’s husband, Will. Dumble Farm, the family’s East Yorkshire farm since the 1970s, could no longer sustain a dairy herd due to years of flooding, so the trio decided to move into conservation-grazing Highland cattle and managing habitat for endangered lapwings and other species. That meant selling the milkers, but they couldn’t bear to part with five of them – and cow cuddling was born.