Friday, 28 December 2007
Monday, 24 December 2007
Only one more person to come now . . .
Thursday, 20 December 2007
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
The holly's in the garden - if it comes in too soon it will be shrivelled up by Christmas.
There's a tree in all the front bedrooms.
And there's a most enormous tree in the hall. It just touches the ceiling and it's about five feet in diameter. Our tiny little lights are almost buried in it's branches but twinkle and reflect off a lifetime's collection of decorations. There are modern rather garish dangly things, elegant glass icicles and etched baubles, spheres with children's photos, bells and bows, unbreakable baubles of red, green and gold, very breakable glass baubles from the Fifties (high up out of the reach of toddlers and dogs' tails), a Father Christmas from the Twenties, and right at the top a fairy that's almost as old as me (a first Christmas present). We used to position her so a light shone up her skirt (cruel but effective), but now the paper skirt is so dry we keep her away from incendiary devices.
Still to go - the outside lights round the porch and along the shippon guttering; the star on the wall (if only we had a ladder tall enough and a cable long enough it could go on top of the feed bin and be seen for miles around);the swags, lights and decorations along the beams in the kitchen (if only I can find them . . . ); candles in all the sconces and candlesticks; baubles from beams upstairs.
Minimalist it is not!
Sunday, 9 December 2007
Saturday, 8 December 2007
Friday, 7 December 2007
It is true that there are less daylight hours on 21st December than on any other day - but the day that sun rises latest is TODAY!
There are lots of websites that explain this - some in too much detail for the common man (or woman in this case) - but if you click on This One * * the chart at the beginning explains the phenomena of Analemma simply. (Note - the times are not GMT but the principle's the same).
* * sorry * * that site seems to have disappeared into the ether
PS - what else do we know about 21st December?
Monday, 3 December 2007
I must be feeling brave; brave enough to post some very old photographs. Contrary to popular belief photography - even colour photography, was around when I was even younger than I am now. On Saturday we met up with a group of girls (and their husbands) that I first met in 1967. So after taking a group photo of us all I've been scrabbling in the box room and found some old photos. Not everyone is on the newest, but maybe next time.
Friday, 30 November 2007
We have decided to try another spot to drill (more of the reasons why later), but as it means the heavy drilling rig getting up a hilly field we are waiting for the ground to try up (or freeze). The driller has moved off site temporarily to another customer and should be back in about a month.
Watch this space for further updates.
Thursday, 29 November 2007
Donald Campbell was killed trying to set a world record on Coniston Water
Strife in the Middle East with the Six Day War
Dr Christian Barnard performed the first heart transplant in Cape Town
The Torrey Canyon ran adrift off Lands End.
Foot and Mouth Disease was rife.
But for a group of girls 1967 was the start of new lives as they went from schoolgirls to teachers. We came from all corners of England, Wales and Ireland (it’s funny but I can’t remember anyone from Scotland) to Clough Hall at Edge Hill College in Ormskirk. Perhaps I can write another time about life as a student as the Sixties raced to an end, but it was the start of lifelong friendships. Some of us don’t meet up very often, but we’re still a group. Careers, marriages, children (and grandchildren), joy and sadness have affected us all and we’re probably very different to the carefree girls we once were. But inside I’m not a grey haired granny working in an industry I didn’t know existed in 1967, but a young girl free from the restraints of home and let loose upon the world.
Memories have been resurfacing in my mind as a group of us are meeting up on Saturday. It won’t be like the KHS reunion of a few weeks ago, as we’ve never really lost touch. But it’s like reaching out into the past and bringing it into focus.
Monday, 26 November 2007
Sunday, 25 November 2007
So my checklist is accumulating lots of ticks.
Presents - mostly bought (except for those difficult people who already have everything.
Cards - designed and ready to print.
Crackers - bought.
Wrapping paper - bought.
Cake - made
Christmas menu - planned (not difficult as it's mostly the same from year to year).
Friday, 23 November 2007
Our own geological expert (Dr. L. A. Robinson, B.Sc.Hons., Ph.D., PGCE, Adv.Dip.Ed) has been taking a keen interest and will I hope provide a full technical account in due course.
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Friday, 16 November 2007
Monday, 12 November 2007
After the concentrated hard work in getting the stock off to Somerset and the Beeston Sale, we've been glad of the time to catch our breath and catch up on routine jobs - like sawing up wood for our wood burning stoves. Our is a big house with a big kitchen with a big fireplace, so it seemed sensible (but when are we ever sensible?) to get the biggest stove we could. Basically it has three heats - cold (not lit), hot and very hot. We have a highly technical way of controlling the temperature - to turn it down a bit - open the hall door; to turn it down a bit more - open the pantry door; to turn it down even more - open the back door. Who needs a thermostat?
Saturday, 3 November 2007
Yesterday we took 5 milkers and 5 maiden heifers to the Shorthorn Society's Annual Show & Sales. It was scheduled to be held at Chelford Auction - but the extension of the Bluetongue Protection Zone meant that was impossible. So it was held at Beeston Castle Auction. James went down with the cattle yesterday afternoon and man and cows spent a comfortable night. We had another early start so we could milk and do up and still be there for the start of the sale.
We've just got back and had a quick glance at the post that came while we were out. Among the bills and circulars was this weeks Farmers Weekly, and this excerpt from an article on page 37 explains partly why we seem to be selling so much stock at the moment. (It's also because we had a good run of heifers in the past two years and our buildings don't have elastic sides)
James Robinson - KENDAL, CUMBRIA
Dairy herds which have switched to organic production on marginal land have limited cropping options. But that's not something deterring the Robinson family from Old Hutton, Kendal, Cumbria.
Their Strickley herd of 90 pedigree Dairy Shorthorns has a high-cost winter ahead as it switches to organic feeds in the final six months of its conversion set against a conventional milk price of 25p/litre. The pot at the end of the rainbow is 34.5p/litre, but in the meantime this winter's compound feed is costing £320/t - compared with the same supplier's conventional dairy ration at £170/t.
"We expected £280, but this is a big jump to £320 - and it's stinging," says James Robinson.
With no shortage of buyers ringing up for Dairy Shorthorn cattle, this Cumbria herd may opt to sell all its heifers and cut cow numbers a little to bolster income in the short-term and help cash-flow this winter.
"It'll soften the blow. We don't want to lose yield by cutting corners with the ration because we'll need plenty of spring milk to get us back on track. Although we're a marginal grass farm we'll be looking at growing some arable silage and crimping some grain next year."
Friday, 2 November 2007
So it's Goodbye to Annabella 118, Peeress Rose 13, Lily 7, Starbud 29, Oak Barrington 11, Lady Hermione 8, Goldie 168, Illa Princess 33, Annabella 129, Oak Barrington 8, Barrington Dot 11, Goldie 170, Crumble 9, Peeress Rose 26, Janet 49, Peeress Rose 25, Goldie 183, Starlet 192, Peggy 153, Georgina 55, Goldie 182, Janet 48, Peggy 151, Lady Barrington 20, Illa Princess 35, Lady Barrington 24, Starbud 27, Lily 11, Annabella 138, Annabella 139, Goldie 189 and two bull calves.
Thursday, 1 November 2007
I'm not able to investigate any more just now, but I hope that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Saturday, 20 October 2007
And in between there was the Farm Assured Dairy Inspection - two and half hours of questions and checks of animals, buildings and most of all paperwork.
As you know we always welcome anyone who comes to see our stock (especially if they want to buy!) and we say "drop in if you're passing". Well, this week we've shown two interested farmers round - the first en route from the Isle of Man to Harper Adams College, and the second from Somerset. I hope they think the trip was worthwhile.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
I enjoyed looking back, but it was like looking through the wrong end of a telescope at a different life. I must have been there (got the photographs and certificates), but it was a different me. As a well known poet of that generation said
Friday, 12 October 2007
It's not entirely true to say I've not seen anyone since the day I threw my hat in the river as I crossed the footbridge for the last time, as I've kept in touch with a couple of girls (and yes, we are still girls at heart). And if any of them are reading this, they'll now know what to expect for supper tomorrow night (when we continue the "celebratory drinks" at Strickley), as I've just about finished making supper. It has to be simple and foolproof, and ready to reheat tomorrow night. There'll be no time for fancy touches tomorrow morning if I'm to be in work at 6.00 am.
* * UPDATE 2 * *
Another pudding in hand - can't risk my reputation! This time, no precise measuring and maybe a G & T on the side may help!
* * * UPDATE 3 * * *
Yes! If at first you don't succeed - give the first attempt away, and have another go. Looks OK. Proof of the pudding tomorrow night.
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Here we go again - as I reported last week our grand old lady Geri has had her tenth calf. She's one of those (as posted yesterday) who has had more bulls than heifers, but as this one is out of a very good bull and a nice light roan, we decided to register the calf.
Tenth lactation, perfect cow -( classified excellent), sire's name etc.
My suggestion (after the closing date that no one knew about) was Strickley Pacemaker. You have to be as old as me to understand why.
Monday, 8 October 2007
It may or may mot happen like that in human families, but it certainly seems to with cows. As you know Cows have family trees just like us. Pedigree cows take their name from their dam (mother) - ie if a cow called (for instance) Buttercup had a heifer calf it would be called Buttercup 2. And if Buttercup had another heifer calf it would be called Buttercup 3 - unless Buttercup 2 had already calved a heifer, in which case it would be the next number up. Quite simple really. The more heifers there are in a particular family, the quicker the numbers after the names increase. As only the heifer calves are registered in this way it's quite obvious that some families have more bulls than heifers.
This weekend demonstrated this. Two Starlet cows calved heifers - and these will be registered as Strickley Starlet 98 and Strickley Starlet 99. The first Starlet was only registered in the 1970's and the numbers are rising fast. On the other hand the first Strickley Janet was registered in the 1920's and we've just registered Janet 50.
So Janet's are more prone to having bulls, but Starlets have lots of heifers.
Now we have two sons and one daughter; four grandsons and one granddaughter - so I suppose I'm more of a Janet than a Starlet.
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
In August 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart was landed by the French Frigate “Doutelle” at the head of Loch Shiel, Argyllshire, Scotland, where he raised his standard to reinstate by force of arms the Stuart dynasty on the Throne of England. He was quickly joined by most of the discontented leaders and fighting men of the Highland Clans. Amongst these were the Fletchers who held Lands in Glen Orchy and a castle, now in ruins, at Achaladder. Later in the year this army marched southward into England, and although receiving help in transport and money from many of the Old County Families there was no popular sympathy or support for the Stuart cause. Fearing interception by trained English armies gathering in the South the invasion was halted at Derby, 130 miles short of London. It had failed, and in December 1745 the long Midwinter retreat to Scotland began, culminating the following year in the final Highland disaster at Culloden Moor. The circumstances, under which the soldier Richard Fletcher became separated from, and left behind by the retreating army, are not known but he found shelter and a refuge against capture as a Rebel, in the then wild moorland, rough moorland, hilly and roadless stretch of country lying between the Counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire known as the ancient “Forest of Bowland”. Nearly 20 years later he married and eventually settled as a Farmer at the isolated village of Slaidburn, Yorkshire, situated on the outskirts of the forest, where in 1799 he was buried. It is assumed, there are no documents, that this Richard Fletcher, Head of the Family Tree here shown, was one of the Fletcher contingent who joined the Prince at the Head of Lock Shiel.
The churchyard at Slaidburn is in very good condition with gravestones from the Eighteenth century up to the present day. We turned left as we went through the gate, and walked widdershins round the church. (No point in encouraging bad luck). We were almost back at the gate when we found the gravestone. It doesn't actually prove the story, but we believe it marks the resting place of our family rebel.
We're just back from our travels - all the way to Meathop and back. We knew if we wanted to get away again before more stock are in, it had to be soon. And it had to fit in with my days off, and the farm man's days on. So Sunday we nipped into town and stocked up with food (and drink) from Booths and M & S (not just food etc etc). Then threw a few clothes, books and DVD's into the caravan and headed off to the Lakeland Peninsula. We found a large sunny pitch and set up camp. After a short rest Henry nipped home to milk. (The "real holiday" was supposed to start after milking).
While he was away I started on the books I had been saving (Stephen Booth and Ian Rankin). As it got cooler and darker I noticed the lights were a bit dim, and more importantly the "warm air central heating" wasn't working. By Henry came back it was obvious several other things weren't quite right - eg the water pump, toilet flush, cooker ignition. Time to get the instruction books out. Though we were hooked up to electricity, some things still run from the battery, and we realised that ours was almost dead - too far gone to charge from the caravan charging unit.
So next morning we took the coastal road to Barrow (heading for the Dock Museum) and called in at an Agricultural Dealers for a new battery (and a few other miscellaneous agricultural bits while we were there). Then onto Barrow, but not the museum which was closed on Mondays. So it was back to he caravan an an hour or two sitting in the sun.
On Tuesday morning we had to nip back home to pick up some cheques to put in the bank, then we headed out into the unknown. Earlier this year we sold a cow to a small holder living beyond Bentham and Henry had promised to take me there one day. We could have been in another world as we twisted and turned over the bleak moors towards Slaidburn. This was our real destination as we knew that Henry's Great great great great Grandfather was buried there.
Saturday, 29 September 2007
Thursday, 27 September 2007
We cut 30 acres of grass for big bales (3rd cut). The contractor is coming today to bale and wrap.
Two people rang up wanting some bull calves and will be coming to see them this week, so the first animals will be moving off the farm for several weeks.
A sheep farmer rang to arrange wintering for his sheep, and will be coming to see us today to discuss rates and dates.
All these movements have to be carefully coordinated - as part of the conditions that apply to farm to farm movements is a 20 Day Standstill - i.e. if an animal comes onto the farm, nothing can move off for 20 days.
So hopefully all the pieces will fit together over the next days and weeks.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Sunday, 23 September 2007
In a few days we're going away for a Short Break, probably the last (second) of the season. We're not going far (so we can set off after milking) but to somewhere we've never stayed before. It's so near that we went and did a recce today (so we can find it on the dark if need be), and near enough for Henry to come back to a meeting while we're away. I've been saving two books to read (new ones from Ian Rankin and Stephen Booth), and in an ideal world I will sit in the warm autumnal sun with a cooling drink in one hand, a book in the other. Did anyone see that pig fly past?
Friday, 21 September 2007
Last night we kept the cows in for the first time since April (see post of 13/04/2007). They're still going out during the day as the grass is still growing, and we will try to keep them out as long as possible. But if the ground underfoot gets too wet, or the weather gets much worse we will bring them in. It's not just for the cows comfort of course (they are bred to live outside), but we want to avoid a drop in yields.
Friday, 14 September 2007
Thursday, 13 September 2007
We usually take the show cattle down at night, get them settled and James stays overnight with them. We get up about 5am and try to get away by 7 - 7.30. Final washing and brushing and maybe time for a bacon bun before the judging starts. A hectic few hours as we move through the classes, and a break for lunch. I try to make a bit of an effort for Kendal, and we sit by the cattle on bales and upturned buckets eating Egg and Bacon Pie, Chewy Fruit Slice and other regular favourites. If we're unlucky and are not involved in the Interbreed classes we may get a chance to visit one or two nearby trade stands (while one of us stays with cattle). Then it's time to get ready for the Grand Parade (and the inevitable wait for a long horse competition to finish) before loading up and joining the queue to get out onto the main road. If we're lucky we'll only be an hour late starting milking.
But today was different. We started on the picnic food last night. We all slept in our own beds. We got up a the normal time. Had a reasonably leisurely breakfast and left home about 10 am. We parked in the livestock car park (full of estate cars with dog cages in the back). We walked past the vast cattle tent - no cattle, just a few dogs and owners. The main cattle ring had become a picnic area. Dog classes were taking place in the smaller rings. We wandered up and down the rows of trade stands, looking at machinery, cars, crafts, hats (well, that was me). We went to the Presidents Reception for drinks. We bought a sit down meal in the Members Tent. We looked at more stands and displays. Then we got in the car and came home.
FMD = ban on cattle movements = a strange day out.
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
No doubt you will already have heard the Bad News - a new instance of Foot and Mouth Disease in Surrey. We were feeling very upbeat this week - getting ready for Westmorland Show (tomorrow) and the Dairy Event (next week). Henry and James were clipping the cows and I was baking cakes and pies (to feed any friends or family who may pass by the cattle lines). All stopped now along with all movement of cattle.
Even the sun has stopped shining.
Saturday, 8 September 2007
So last night we were suitably washed and dressed and being chauffeured in James' new car, when a discussion arose as to which way to go. I said, I would go straight down the A6 and through Milnthorpe. James thought he would go into town and up past the old hospital. It was at this point we realised I had booked the wrong restaurant. I hadn't looked at the voucher since Christmas, but getting it out of my bag I saw it clearly said "Wheatsheaf, Brigsteer". As it was too late to do anything about it, we continued to Beetham and paid for a very good meal. And we still have James and Michelle's treat to look forward to.
A Senior Moment, or as Robert (who was in the car) said - "Silly Grandma".
Friday, 7 September 2007
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
But it remains elusive to me. I thought it was maybe because I didn't spend as much time out in the fields near its natural habitat.
But this morning it was nearer to home, probably taunting me. As I drove through the yard at 06.30 on my way to work, Henry flagged me down to say a Kingfisher had flown through the yard as the cows were coming in.
Somethings are meant never to happen.
Friday, 31 August 2007
But it's only a few miles from here on the A684. Have you read the Blog entry from yesterday? This is one of the fields we reseeded. And where do you think it comes in the sequence of events? After the ploughing? Or maybe after the harrowing?
No, it's after sowing the seed - on very stony ground.
It has been said that . . .
"This is the sort of field which, when picking stones, you have to 'walk around with your eyes shut!' "
James took the photograph and suggested a musical link to go with it. Listen to the chorus, and change the stoned to stones and be standing by the phone when we ask for volunteers as "Everyone must get stones".
Thursday, 30 August 2007
We're reseeding a field on the Lots, plus the Front and Back Bank - ie
We plough the field
We pick stones
We power harrow the field
We level the field
We scatter the good seed on the land
We roll the field
Then it's up to God to feed and water it.
I hope there's not too much snow in winter, enough warmth to swell the grain (make the grass grow), not too many breezes, some sunshine and just the right amount of soft refreshing rain.
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
The gley is blue-grey because the iron in it is ferrous, which means that one iron atom combines with one oxygen, because there is little oxygen in the soil. The lumps in soils are called peds. Gley is fairly structureless, so there are large peds, and plants don't like growing in it. Where there are rust-coloured spots these are called ferric mottles, and they occur where roots have gone into the soil, rotted, and allowed oxygen to get down to change the ferrous compounds to ferric (two iron atoms to three oxygen). The gley soil is also shiny because the ploughshare has streaked out the wet clay (like wetting a palette knife to smooth icing).
Brownearths are rust-coloured because of the ferric iron. They are well-drained with plenty of oxygen, so plants grow better. This means there are more grass roots in the soil, which break it up into breadcrumb peds (crumby peds sounds nicer!), and they keep it well-drained
Saturday, 25 August 2007
And the next Bank Holiday? Christmas!
Maybe I'm just a bit fed up as instead of making the most of the weather (which is actually quite good) I'm stuck in a cold air-conditioned office.
Back at home the farmers have been busy all week. As part of our Organic Conversion we have taken The Lots back in hand. The parcel of land away from Strickley has been let out on a grazing licence for a few years, while we rented in some fields that joined onto ours. We may have continued with this for a few more years, as it is very handy for stock, but the landowner doesn't want to be involved in our conversion plans and we will be giving it up at the end of November. So this week Henry and James (with help from young farmer Robert) have been on The Lots tidying up wall gaps, moving sheep pens etc - getting ready for the contractor to plough two of the fields. We're reseeding about 30 acres this year, with the sort of mix that suits our organic plans.
And there's no time off this morning either - one of the ACR's in the parlour is playing up, so that's to be sorted before tonight's milking.
Maybe I do have the best of it in a nice cool office.
Saturday, 18 August 2007
Monday - we unloaded a load of barley straw bales and stacked them on top of the barn silage pit.
Saturday - slept in! Well, we woke up suddenly just after six and realised the alarm hadn't gone off - no electric. We got up quickly, knocked up James, and within twenty minutes were milking as normal - thanks to Operation Generator. About eighteen months ago we started to consider how we would cope without mains power, and bought a generator "just in case". It's powerful enough to run the parlour, dairy and house; and once up and running there is no noticeable difference in the supply (apart from the noise of the tractor outside the pantry window). This was the first time we had run it in anger and it's justified our decision to invest in it.
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
I'm also sometimes struck by the aptness of the music. Last week my journey home was a nightmare - the M6 was closed both ways and all traffic was diverted through Kendal. The town and all approaches were gridlocked by the sort vehicle not intended for our roads. So what was on the CD player? Road to Hell (Chris Rea) of course. The extended live version from his last tour - definitely one to turn the volume up. And last night the rain was horrendous (look at the graphs on our weather site to see how much came down per hour). Somehow the right music came on - Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". I just hope the first song this morning isn't a warning of what's to come - "Thunder Road".
Thursday, 9 August 2007
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Monday, 6 August 2007
But we have confounded one particular run of luck - in the past 7 days we've had 13 calves - four bulls and NINE HEIFERS!
The latest was born to Lady Serene 2 last night, after one and a half hours of hard physical work by the vet. Thank you Jane.
Saturday, 4 August 2007
But the weather has been cruel - only a measly 10 big bales instead of a pit full of clamp silage. And it's raining again - with not the tiniest chink of hopeful blue in the clouds. So it's a day off, of sorts.
But it's a case of "do you want the good news or the bad news?" - "sorry, there is no good news".
The bad news is bad - Foot and Mouth confirmed in cattle in Surrey. 2001 is too recent and we're all thinking of what farmers went through then. We don't deserve it again.
P.S. - on a lighter note - I didn't know they had farms in Surrey - I thought it was all stockbrokers' houses and golf courses.
Wednesday, 1 August 2007
2nd - Goldie 181
Geri was born in 1996 and is due to calve her 10th in September.
The Thomas Burton Memorial Perpetual Challenge Cup for the Best Pair of Female Cattle of any breed - Pansy and Geri.
Tuesday, 31 July 2007
The grass has been growing all through the past wet weather and now everyone and their dog is itching to cut it and get it either chopped or baled. But there's a queue for the contractor, who isn't going to get much sleep while the weather holds. (But they've all had the past month to catch up on sleep).
The 10 acres we cut on Sunday is now baled and waiting for the wrapper. The barn pit has been cleaned out and the door put in. (No more taking a shortcut from the house to the main silage pit). And the tyres are even now being taken off the big pit and the sheet loosened.
But now here's the dilemma - we know that the contractor will probably (breakdowns permitting) get to us sometime on Thursday, and there's 80 acres to mow. But tomorrow is Cartmel Show. We've being showing there for about 40 years, and we've already missed out on 2 shows this year (cancelled due to the weather), so we don't want to miss it. And of course we've got some very good stock. So we've had to split our resources; James is going to the show, and Henry is staying at home to mow. (It only needs one, for as everyone knows - "One man went to mow; went to mow a meadow. . "). I'll be tagging along at the show (with a basket of food) along with Michelle and the boys, and we're hoping for a good day.
Watch this space.
Sunday, 29 July 2007
The handlers were then put through their paces in three age groups, followed by the Overall Championship. We barely had time to draw breath before it was time for the calves to be judged (again in 3 classes dependant on the age of the calf)
Champion Calf - Cactus - G A & D W Dent
Reserve - Goldie 181 - W H & K M Robinson
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Saturday, 21 July 2007
Tomorrow my Australian cousins arrive to spend some time with us, at the end of an extensive tour of Europe. I hope that they think the continuous rain is a worthwhile feature. Then next weekend Victoria, Glenn, Elliot and Fletcher are coming up, especially to go to Penrith Show (which I hope doesn't succumb to cancellation due to waterlogged fields like so many others). Then some friends from Bristol are coming with their caravan as part of a tour of Northern Regions, and finally, for now, the week after a young family of second cousins are coming to camp for a week. They had such good weather last year they're coming back again. I fear their optimism may be misplaced.
So if you're stuck for somewhere to go - give us a ring! But preferably not all at once.
But seriously, we don't mind at all. I love having people to stay, and a house big enough to accommodate them.
But I came home on Thursday and there was a bit of an agricultural whiff in the air. No cows in the field now - just brownish streaks. And by last night, there was not a blade of grass to be seen. We've ploughed up the old grass prior to reseeding.
But if you want to see the cows in Wellbank, well click on this link to Google Maps.
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
Now another thing I'm well known for is always have a "Hot Spare", or in this case, a "Cold Spare". So I did a stock take of what was in the Drink and Drugs* Fridge - 33 cans of Boddington, Carlsberg and Fosters, plus a shelf of miscellaneous drugs*. It was a time to prioritise, so the drink has been relegated to the slate slab in the Back Kitchen. If you are passing by and get offered a beer, it won't be as cold as it used to be.
I've moved all the food from the pantry fridge to the spare fridge and as soon as I can grab a strong man to help me move the fridge to get at the socket, it will be switched off prior to further investigation.
* veterinary only
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
Last month saw us (well Pansy) triumph at the Royal Highland Show and I was quick to post a photo on here. I know it wasn't the best in the world (she was standing wrong) but it was instant. We've now got hold of a better photo - almost perfect, but of course it still shows the handler, so I enlisted the help of a touch up artist (Rob) and Pansy is now standing perfectly as every Show Cow should with no one holding her!
So sorry Wendy, you have been rubbed out.
Sunday, 15 July 2007
But what has the weather been like?
OK this morning, then sunny enough to cut the grass and oil the patio furniture, then back to miserable drizzle.
So will that be the pattern for the next 40 days?
For forty days it will remain.
St. Swithin's Day, if thou be fair,
For forty days twill rain nae mair.
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
I'm not sure if I want to go or not. I have put off answering with a definite yes or no, as it will be on one of a my Saturdays at work. But do I want to meet all these girls again? I can't say they will be younger than me, but the chances are their lives will have gone in different directions to mine. Will they all be tall and slender? Rich and famous? Well, I'll never be any of those, but happy and contented? Yes. What would we talk about? There will no doubt be lots of "do you remember. . . " and "whatever happened to. . . . ", but how much will we still have in common? Are we all grey haired Grandmothers, with photographs of our families (and in my case cows as well)?
Someone wrote "The past is a foreign country" - and I don't know if I want to go there.
Monday, 9 July 2007
After a fine weekend, we're feeling optimistic and the mower is back on the tractor, on it's way to cut a few fields for (I think) big bales.
The good/better weather is bound to continue as I'm due to go back to work on Thursday. I had better make the most of these last few days by either:
1 - getting up to date with the paperwork
2 - cleaning the house from top to bottom
3 - ironing
4 - sorting out the freezers (full of food, but never anything to eat tonight)
5 - sitting outside with a book.
Which should I choose? Difficult decision!
Friday, 6 July 2007
So this is a brief outline of what the two farmers have been up to today –
(and apologies to farmers for this Dummies Guide approach)
6:00 – alarm goes off in two houses. Henry grabs a banana and goes to get the cows in.
6:15 – James gets the parlour ready for milking.
6:30 – the cows are gathered in the Collecting Yard and start to come through the parlour. It’s an Alfa Laval 12/24 – which means that 24 cows come in at once, 12 down each side. As the cows come in James or Henry recognises them and presses buttons on the Feed Controller so that each one gets the right amount of dairy cake. The units are put on the first side, and the milk starts to flow, filling the large glass jars above the cows. As the flow of milk from each cow lessens the ACR (automatic cluster removal) kicks in and removes the unit from the cow. We then send the milk from the glass jar though to the Dairy next door. The units are then put on the cow on the opposite side. When all of one side has been milked, the exit gate is raised and they head off to the Cattleplan (indoor housing) where they get a bit of buffer feeding (the silage that James has put out). The entrance gate in the parlour is opened and the next 12 come in.
7:30 – as the last cows leave the parlour, the units are washed out and the parlour hosed down, so no traces of muck remain. Clean water and detergent is run through the system and the parlour left clean and hygienic. Meanwhile the milk is cooling in the bulk tank. By it reaches it, it is already several degrees lower than when it entered the system. It passes through a series of pipes which are cooled by the Ice Bank Cooler. It is kept at about 3 degrees until collected by the Milk Tanker.
8:00 – breakfast
8:30 – the cows are let out to the daily pasture. This may be the other side of the road to the buildings, so we try to avoid school run times, though most drivers accept that it’s a fact of country life that cows sometimes have priority on the road.
At this time of year there are not many animals inside to feed, just the youngest calves who are still on the bucket, and the stock bulls. The Cattleplan and alleyways and yard are cleaned up with the scraper tractor.
Most of the stock is outside, so at some point during the day one of us will go round and check them, especially the in-calf cows and heifers.
Most of this morning was taken up with a visit from what could be loosely termed our “feed rep”. I think the correct term might be “Account Manager and/or nutritionist”. This was a planned visit, to look at the whole farm. He took samples of grass, and first cut silage, so we can make informed decisions about feeding.
12:30 – dinner, and as it’s Friday, time to have a quick look at the 3 papers that matter (Westmorland Gazette, Farmers Weekly and Farmers Guardian).
13:15 – back out again.
More routine work – mucking out the two stock bulls (Radar, Hooton Perfection), fixing some spouting that’s been hanging off since someone (nameless) hit it with the loader, and other odd bits of maintenance. (What is sometimes known as “jobbing about”).
15:45 – quick drink and chocolate biscuit
16:00 – time to get the cows in again for milking
18:30 – no extra jobs today, so inside for supper.
Wednesday, 4 July 2007
Monday, 25 June 2007
Royal Lancashire - 21st July
Friday, 22 June 2007
Heifer in Milk - First (Goldie 162)