Friday, 28 December 2007

Comings and Goings

All of a sudden the house is empty. For the past week it has been full of children, grandchildren and dogs - and other nearest and dearest (and in some cases, their nearest and dearest). The recycling bins are full, the fridge is still full (!), the needles are still on the tree but the parcels are all opened and played with or put safely away, the outside lights are twinkling in the rain and the indoor lights are helping to lift a rather flat feeling. Tomorrow I go back to work (well someone has to be there to say "have you tried rebooting?").

Of course Henry and James have been working every day (though with some time off during the day for a couple of days). Today they have brought the last of the stock inside for winter, so every building is full of stock - all to be fed, watered, bedded and mucked out. It's a long time till spring.

But before then there will be another Robinson Gathering - watch this space for The Event Of The Year in February.

Monday, 24 December 2007

It Was The Night Before Christmas. . .

The turkey is stuffed.
The cake is iced.
The mince pies are made.
The wine is chilled.
The vegetables are prepared.
The lights are twinkling inside and out.

The house is full of children, grandchildren and dogs.

Only one more person to come now . . .

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Don't believe everything you see

Strickley Weather Site
Sorry, but there is a problem with the barometric pressure.
I will be looking into it as soon as possible,
but if I need a new part there will be a delay until after Christmas.
The rest of the information is as accurate as it usually is!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Deck the Halls

Less than a week to go!

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

When Is A New Building Not The New Building?

The stock at Strickley is housed in a variety of buildings including traditional stone built shippons and barns, pre-fabricated cubicle housing, a poly-building, converted and covered yard, a wooden shed and various combinations. The latest addition is now almost complete and already inhabited by three young bulls. The sequence of photos below show the change from unused overgrown corner to airy, well ventilated pens. But what shall we call it? If we talk about The New Building we know exactly what we mean - a secondhand hen hut that we bought from near Preston in 1965.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Almost a Whiteout

This morning we nipped up the motorway to Cranstons at Penrith to stock up on meat for Christmas (large joints of ham and beef etc). As we were going up the rain was a bit "lumpy", and we were glad to be safely cocooned in our heated seats in our climate controlled four wheel drive car. With the boot full of good food we came back over Shap - one of the best (and quietest) roads in the north. As we neared the summit the lumpy rain turned a bit whiter and we set the driving controls to "Snow". We may not have needed to - but we don't get much opportunity. The photo was taken from the comfort of my seat, though the windscreen, between the sweeps of the wipers. By we got home it was back to rain - look to see how much from the link to our Weather page (see left).

Friday, 7 December 2007

An Interestng Astronomical Fact

Now we all know that the shortest day is 21st December don't we. So I have always assumed that on that day the sun rose later than on any other day and set earlier than on any other day.


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

Surely We're Not That Old?

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

No Water Yet

Just a quick update to those of you who were wondering if we had found water yet - no not yet (nor oil or any other valuable commodity).
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

That Was The Year That Was

1967 – a year of major events whose legacy still reaches down to us –

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

In Action

It didn't stand idle long, and it will never be as clean again (at least inside).

Sunday, 25 November 2007

This Year I Will Be Organised!

I know it's still November but I've Made The Cake. After the shame of last year when I ran out of days (if only we could have pushed Christmas back a few days), I was determined to get ahead.

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).

What's Big And Red. . . .

. . . . and can make an awful mess?

Just arrived and ready to go!

So don't stand behind it.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Dry as a bone

This week has seen the start of Strickley's bid for Independence - Independence from the Utility Companies, as a team of drillers (who have never failed to find water) sunk a test bore at the top of the Teapot Field. They quickly whizzed through soft soil, then the tungsten drill bit slowed down as it hit the blue granite. 120 metres later (below sea level) and no water. The consensus is that we're in the wrong place and today we will decide where to try next.

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

No Happy Ending

Yesterday Henry found this buzzard down the fields with its wing broken in two places. We assume it hit a powerline and fell to the ground. He took it down to the vet, but unfortunately it died. But doesn't it look magnificent?

Friday, 16 November 2007

Yet More Excitement!

Watch this space for news of the Latest Happening at Strickley. Today men and specialist equipment arrived and unloaded in the Paddock. They are returning on Monday to start on a project that should have countless benefits. All will be revealed in due course.

Drama in New Hutton

Monday, 12 November 2007

A Week's A Long Time . . .

. . . but nothing really exciting has happened at Strickley.

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

And then there were . . .

. . . ten less.

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)
Case study
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."
If you want to read the full article click here

Friday, 2 November 2007

Did You Miss us?

In case you were desperate to look at the weather at Strickley - I'm glad to report we're back online!

A Little Bit Of Strickley In Somerset

It's half past five in the morning and we've just loaded 33 Strickley Shorthorns onto a large cattle wagon. They are heading for a new life in Somerset at Higher Stavordale Farm. If you're down in the South West, visit the Farm Shop and say hello from us.

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

Strickley Website Down

Once again we are suffering disruption to normal service (I think our ISP is making changes) and the Strickley Website (and Weather) are unavailable.
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

A Full Score

As you know if you're a regular reader, Dairy Shorthorns are well known for their Longevity (look back to posts about Geri). Another of their outstanding attributes is their Fertility. Today the vet came for his regular monthly visit. He P D'd (pregnancy diagnosed) 20 heifers, and all 20 are in calf.

Well done our young stock bull "Flourish"

Saturday, 20 October 2007

End of a busy week

It's not been all partying and nostalgia at Strickley this past week. The real workers have been busy making life more comfortable for the cows when they come in for winter. The Cattleplan building will definitely be classified as de-luxe accommodation, with new cow mats (to lie on in the cubicles), and a new outside area for "loafing". So the cows can lie down, feed, wander round the building, or even take a turn outside. The new gates are very substantial and should deter any potential escapee. And then there's the new building we're putting up with new calving pens. (Watch this space for before and after pictures).

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

My Back Pages

On Saturday I travelled back in time to the Sixties, when I met up with 35 former Kendal High School girls. There was more than a whiff of nostalgia in the air as we remembered far off days in green blazers and berets; rules and regulations (keep to the left, no running); smells from the science lab; embroidering your name on the Domestic Science apron; sewing pyjamas; the first male teacher in the all girls school; spelling tests and wild flower identification. It may have been the era of The Swinging Sixties, but in Westmorland we seemed to be still emerging from an older tradition of girls' education, and to me the overall impression was that we were a class of girls who took life very seriously.

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

"Ah, but I was so much older then,I'm younger than that now"

Friday, 12 October 2007

Sneak Preview

Tomorrow is the fateful day when I go to meet up with girls (sorry middle aged women) I last saw over 40 years ago. It's the Kendal High School Reunion for the class of 1960 (in most cases those who left after A levels in 1967). It's taken a lot of nerve to fill in my form and send my money, and now there's no going back (unless I want to waste my £26.50). I had a ready made excuse not to go, as I'm scheduled to work tomorrow. But with the good natured agreement of my co-weekend-worker I will be finishing in time for "a celebratory drink and lunch". I've spent longer than I ought this week looking for old school photos - the long ones taken out in the garden (where someone is supposed to be photographed at one end then run round to be captured again at the other). I thought I could just lay my hands on them, but despite looking in every drawer, cupboard and box from cellar to loft and every room in between, they've vanished. No doubt they will turn up unexpectedly when I'm looking for something else. I'm told I won't have trouble identifying anyone as we will be wearing name badges (in large print!).

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.

Supper Menu
Fish Pie
Green & Red Salad
Multigrain Bread
Sticky Toffee Pudding
with loads of extra sauce!
Pudding now out of the oven - the worst I've ever made - pale and flat (more biscuity looking than pudding looking). I could smother it in sauce, but that's also not looking it's best - seems to have separated. Lots of vigorous beating coming up. Must be because I very carefully weighed everything. Oh, well, there's always raspberries and ice cream.

* * 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

What's In A Name?

Do you remember way back in May I asked for suggestions for a name for a bull we are keeping to breed from? In the end we ignored all (one) suggestions and left it up to James.

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.

So, mother = Strickley Geri; father = Hooton Fair Perfection. Any suggestions?
Well, as usual with online competitions, the answer is already decided. Before I could offer up a few well chosen names James had been online to the Shorthorn Society's registration service and done the deed. Our latest stock bull in-waiting is "Strickley Perfect Ten".
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

Balance of the Sexes

How many baby boys have been born in your family? More than girls? Do you think that some families are more prone to having boys rather than girls?

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

Our Jacobite Rebel

Second of two postings today

Richard Fletcher

Henry's great great great great grandfather

This is Richard Fletcher who, according to family history, was a Jacobite Rebel. The extract below is taken from some notes written in 1961 and found among Henry's fathers papers. We've no reason to disbelieve it, and would love it to be true.

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.

Not So Much A Holiday, More Just A Different Bed

First of two postings today -

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.

See next posting for his story.
From Slaidburn it was more bleak roads through The Trough of Bowland and onto Lancaster, and back to the caravan. After a rushed supper, I was on my own once again - as Henry disappeared for 2 - 3 hours to a Board Meeting at the County Show. The advantage (or disadvantage) of holidaying so close to home.
This morning I just had time to finish my second book before we packed up and came home. The caravan is now probably put away till next Spring - not that we're fair weather campers, but as the stock comes inside, there's more feeding and mucking out to do each day, and it's easier with two.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

New Beginning?

Two signs of hope for a better times ahead today -

We sold eleven bull calves to a local farmer, who raises them for beef. They're the first stock to move off the farm since the FMD outbreak in August. So that's eleven less to feed and a few empty spaces for the next batch of calves.

And Geri, a grand old lady of eleven had her tenth calf last night. Over her nine previous lactations she has given 65,360 kg of milk (that's about 115,000 pints), with consistently good butterfat and protein figures. And she still looks good. She's been to most local shows during her life - the last outing being to Cartmel on 1st August this year, where she won the Cow in Calf class, and was part of the winning Interbreed Pair.

So no apologies for posting another photo of her (taken at Cartmel).

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Things Are Happenning

Yesterday several things started to happen -

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

A Glimmer of Light

Despite the steady downpour yesterday (almost an inch, though it felt like more), the clouds opened a crack to let in a glimmer of hope. Defra announced that from 3pm today the country will be divided into three zones. We (so far away from the current FMD outbreak) will be "low risk", and most importantly farm to farm movements of stock will be allowed (subject to stringent conditions of course). So maybe we can sell some of our bull calves (so Henry doesn't have quite so many to feed); and remember if you're interested in our top quality Dairy Shorthorns look at our website or telephone us.

Stock of all ages available!
From heifer calves to new calved cows.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Autumn is creeping up on us

Last week may have marked the beginning of the end of summer (when the cows stayed in at night), but today marks the beginning of winter. So far we have managed to keep the house warm with just the Aga. But this week I have been trying hard to keep the doors shut and keep the heat in one room. So today we succumbed and cleaned out the wood burning stove. Needless to say it was full of partly burnt rubbish and the ash pan was overflowing. We're not ones for leaving it ready to use when we stop using it in Spring. Just shut the door and forget about it. But now it has sparkling clean windows, and is stacked with paper and logs ready to go. It doesn't mean we have to light it, but it's there if we need it. I know what will happen next. I'll be complaining I'm too hot.

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

The Beginning Of The End . . . .

. . . of summer.

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

Two Out Of Eight

Royal Highland Show - Breed Champion
Royal Lancashire Show - cancelled due to weather
Penrith Show - cancelled due to weather
Cartmel Show - Breed Champion
Grayrigg Show - cancelled due to FMD
Westmorland County Show - cancelled due to FMD
Dairy Event - cancelled due to FMD
All Britain All Breeds Calf Show - cancelled due to FMD

Bikes Galore

The Tour of Britain came past our road end today, so after a quick dinner we rushed to the end of the lane (in case they were early). Maybe there was a hold up along the way (traffic jam in Kirkby Lonsdale? behind a tractor at Old Town?) but they were running late, and we were just beginning to feel a bit daft, stood by the side of the road with our camera, when the bikes started to appear.
These were the police and support bikes - who seemed to be having fun riding on empty closed roads. And then, at last, the lead rider came round the corner, almost hidden by the cameraman on a motor bike and backup cars.

The pack (or peloton, to show I know the right words) were not far behind,

and then a cavalcade of cars piled high with spare bikes.

In a few minutes they were gone, except for a few stragglers that we waved on as we turned round to go home.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

A Strange Day Out

Kendal Show Day (or to give it it's full title The Westmorland County Show).

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

Good News, Bad News

Grandson Robert started Pre-school today. He came over to show me how smart he looked in red sweatshirt, clean trousers and shiny shoes. I tried to take a photo of him (with my new camera!), but now he's so grown up he came over all self conscious and shy. It seems only yesterday that Elliot was dressed in a similar outfit, and now he's choosing which secondary school to go to. (Though they do change schools a year earlier in Leicestershire). Even the youngest of us is growing fast - Fletcher is now 16 weeks and weighs 16 pounds.

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

A Pub By Any Other Name

Last Christmas (cue for a song?), James and Michelle gave us a voucher for a meal at a local well known pub/restaurant. We decided to save it until later in the year. As you know 2007 has been rather hectic and somehow the opportunity for a night out on the right day never presented itself. It also involved a bit of forward planning - book the restaurant, and taxi (James). But this week I saw a clear slot on Friday, so not having the voucher to hand (it was safely tucked away), I searched on the web to find the phone number. I knew I had the right one as I searched for (and found) "Wheatsheaf, Beetham".

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

More Media Exposure

Some are born famous
Some achieve fame
Some have fame thrust upon them
(to paraphrase Shakespeare)
read the two page spread in this week's issue, or to see online, click below

Up Up And Away . . .

. . . and down in Strickley Hill

Guess what dropped in last night

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

A Changing Landscape

Before - 3rd September
After - 4th September

Why Not Me?

It seems that everyone else in the family has seen the Kingfisher flying up the beck - some have even taken photographs of it.

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

And Some Fell On Stony Ground

Now this might look like an alien lunar landscape, or a dried up river bed in a land that never sees rain . . . .
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".

P.S. - do you know that if you click on a picture it will (usually) open up full size in a new window.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

We Plough The Fields And Scatter . .

Well there's more to reseeding than that . .

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 pick stones
We level the field
We pick stones
We scatter the good seed on the land
We pick stones
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

A View From An Expert

As you know we are reseeding some fields this autumn, and after the contractor had finished ploughing on The Lots we had an expert (aka Henry's younger brother) give his opinion on the soil. So I take no credit for the following, quoted word for word from Arthur's report. Normal Blog rambling will resume in due course.


Brownearth is on the slopes and higher areas where drainage is better, and gley is on the flatter slopes where drainage is impeded.

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
With grateful thanks to Dr. L. A. Robinson, B.Sc.Hons., Ph.D., PGCE, Adv.Dip.Ed.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Surely it's not the end of Summer?

A long time ago when we had proper weather and real summers August Bank Holiday was at the beginning of the month and heralded in four weeks of non stop sunshine, days at the beach, picnic and ice creams - and no need to think about school for ages. But now the Bank Holiday is at the end of the month, and seems to just remind us of what we have missed. It's no longer a time to look forward to summer, but a signal that it's rapidly disappearing. Shops are full of school uniforms and pencil cases; parents and teachers are counting the days till the start of term.

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

All wrapped up

What's been happening at Strickley this week?

Monday - we unloaded a load of barley straw bales and stacked them on top of the barn silage pit.

Tuesday - passport applications and Shorthorn registrations for all the latest calves.

Wednesday - repaired a drain on the Lots that was silted up.

Thursday - found an optimistic weather forecast and mowed the Back Bank (5.83 acres).

Friday - after the grass had dried out (from the inevitable overnight rain) it was scaled out and then rowed up ready for the baler. So far so good. But, our usual wrapper was away. However he trusted us to do a DIY job using his wrapper. So by 10:00 pm there were 38 neatly wrapped black parcels - and thanks to the wonders of technology (and Rob's camera) you can click on the link and watch James' expertise.

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


Driving to work on my own means I can listen to what I want as loud as I want (and repeat it as often as I want if it's a particular good track). I've copied a hundred or so songs to mp3 and put them on CD's for the car. By setting the playlist to "random" I am constantly surprised and usually (as I chose the songs in the first place) delighted by what plays.
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

All is safely gathered in

Straight from the farmer's mouth - second cut silage all in the pit!

A huge sigh of relief all round (and maybe a refreshing drink of something or other tonight)

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

At last - some good news

All the grass is cut and the contractor came this afternoon, so at last the grass is headed for the pit.
But that's not the really good news -

Twin heifers about two hours ago.

If I was into similes it would be something like "a rollercoaster week" or "swings and roundabouts". Maybe it's "the sun shines on the righteous".

I wanted to use this link - it's maybe a bit too cynical, but as it's rarely heard, here goes.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Trying hard to find something positive to say

It's August 6th and we've still not cut for second crop silage. We can't remember ever having been so late. It's mainly due to the weather and being in a queue for the contractor. We only need three fine days - and and a half to cut and one and a half to pick up. But no matter how optimistic we are in the morning with the sun shining and the wind blow drying the grass, we end up dejected by evening when it rains just enough to wet it again.

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

A Black Day

Today should not have been like this. In our imaginary ideal world we would have finished silaging and be looking foward to getting suited and booted for our nephew's wedding.

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

Cartmel Show

A day of two halves - showing at Cartmel, and starting to mow for silage.
Those of us who went to Cartmel had a good day, despite a few hiccups and irritations (no water when we arrived, beef judged before dairy). There were more Dairy Shorthorns than any other breed - eighteen I think (from four exhibitors) with a very poor showing of Black and Whites. We only took one trailer with four animals and were very pleased with the results.

Calf under 12 months
2nd - Goldie 181
Heifer or cow in milk
1st - Pansy
2nd - Goldie 162

Dry Cow
1st - Geri

Geri was born in 1996 and is due to calve her 10th in September.

Pair of Shorthorn Females
1st - Pansy and Geri

The Lady Moyra Cavendish Perpetual Challenge Cup for the Best Exhibit in the Shorthorn Classes - Pansy


The Thomas Burton Memorial Perpetual Challenge Cup for the Best Pair of Female Cattle of any breed - Pansy and Geri.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Too much to do, not enough time

Far be it from me to complain about the upturn in the weather, but the sudden emergence of the sun brings its own problems.

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

A Break in the Clouds

At last the weather seems to be turning a corner. This is the second fine day in a row - so it's time to roll out the tractors and make the most of the weather. James is mowing 10 acres to make into big bale silage (we had hoped to make hay of it, but the weather hasn't been kind to us) and Henry is discing the ploughing in Wellbank.

Yesterday should have been Penrith Show, one of the highlights in the Shorthorn calendar. But it was of course cancelled due to the state of the field. But part of it lived on. The North of England Calf Show still went ahead but at Strickley. It does us good to host an event every so often, as it makes us tidy up and clear out a load of junk etc. There were 25 calves and handlers from 2 to 20+, with a mulitude of family and friends. Paul Harrison (scheduled to judge at Penrith) opened the day with a talk and demonstration on handling, stressing the need for both the calf and handler to be turned out well (not like James who was showing how not to do it), the importance of the right halter (we're off to buy a new one), and of course watching the judge.

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 Handler - Shaun Dixon

Champion Calf - Cactus - G A & D W Dent
Reserve - Goldie 181 - W H & K M Robinson
Hon. Mention - Goldie 176 - W H & K M Robinson

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Let's Do The Show Right Here!

Yesterday we heard that Penrith Show (28th July) has been cancelled. That's two shows we've missed so far this year because of the adverse weather (Royal Lancashire was also cancelled). But Penrith is a major part of the North West Shorthorn calendar - not just because of the numbers of Dairy Shorthorns on show (more than any other breed), but because it incorporates the North of England Calf Show. This gives young handlers (some as young as 2, but many more up to 20) their first experience of showing. It's taken seriously but with a real sense of fun for everyone. So while us adults can grin and bear it, no one wanted the young handlers to miss out. It was decided that we didn't need the surroundings of a big Show to still go ahead, so guess where it's going to be - that's right - STRICKLEY!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

The Naked Cleaner

No pictures - I leave that to your imagination - but what's the best thing to wear to steam clean the shower?

That's right - nothing!

It wasn't me - I was paying the bills - so let your imagination run riot.

Most popular destination?

Today's the last time Henry and I will be on our own for sometime. It seems that Strickley is the destination of choice this summer, whether you're travelling from the Midlands or the other side of the world.

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.

We plough the fields. . .

On a summer's evening it's nice to look out of the kitchen window towards Wellbank and see the cows. It's particularly picturesque (in a not too chocolate-boxy sort of way) when the sky's deep blue and the sun is low in the sky casting a deep golden glow over the cows.

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

Cold Spare

I'm well known at home for forgetting to lift out Ice Cream before we want it, and having to scrape slithers instead of scooping scoopfuls. But this week it hasn't mattered. It's come straight from freezer to table as "soft scoop"; very soft scoop. So when I was able to stick my finger into a previously rock hard bowl of homemade Orange Ice Cream it was time to act. We've had our suspicions about this fridge-freezer for some time, as a vital looking bit at the back of the freezer compartment is hanging off. But opening the door with my eyes closed I've been able to ignore it.

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

The Camera Never Lies . .

. . . or now you see her, now you don't.

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

What's the weather like today?

July 15th - St Swithen's Day

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?

St. Swithin's Day, if thou shalt rain,
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

Hay Wrap

Well not really hay - but 77 silage bales are now lined up and waiting for the Wrapper.

But a good excuse to watch this video.

It Was Forty Years Ago Today (well nearly)

I knew I was getting old, but just in a natural unstructured sort of way, but hadn't really thought about how long it was since I left school. But yesterday it was brought home to me how long ago it was. I had a phone call from a girl (well, we're all still girls aren't we?) that I hadn't seen since we left school - in 1967. She's organising a reunion for later in the year and was ringing the Class of '67.

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

Window of Opportunity

At last ! A chink in the weather!

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

Dear Diary

When I started this Blog I thought it would be easy to scribble a few words each day. I never intended it to be a recital of my daily routine (got up at 6:30, had 2 slices of toast etc), assuming that there was always something going on that I could talk about. But it’s proving to be a bit difficult. I would hate people to think that we were sitting around doing nothing in between Milkings, and I’m sure most of you realise that there’s more to farming than that. Of course Milking is the backbone of all our work – without it, no milk; no milk, no income.
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.

And if you want to compare a routine day in 2007, with one in 1940, go to our website - and click on the 1940 Button.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Did Anyone Miss Us?

A gap of over a week with no posts!

We've just returned from a very wet week in Wales, with very little to report. We were in a caravan in deepest mid Wales, with no mobile phone signal, no television signal and certainly no Internet. But plenty of rain, rest, drink, sleep and did I mention rain?

But just to show it wasn't all doom and gloom, here's a farmer on holiday enjoying the one fine evening.
Normal blogging will be resumed as soon as possible

Monday, 25 June 2007

The Champions Return

After five days away James and the cows arrived home about midnight last night. They had to stay on the Showfield until the show closed, giving visitors the chance to see the all the cattle. Then the long drive home. The cows were let out and the rest abandoned till this morning. Rummaging in the Show Box I keep coming upon prize cards, rosettes and sashes. And I'm told, if I dig deep enough I'll find a silver cup!

If you want to see the prize winning team - look for us at more local shows throughout the summer -

Royal Lancashire - 21st July
Penrith - 28th July
Cartmel - 1st August
Grayrigg - 6th September
Westmorland - 13th September

Friday, 22 June 2007

Stop Press

First results now in from the Royal Highland Show

- and it's looking good!

Maiden Heifer - First (Goldie 176)
Heifer in Milk - First (Goldie 162)
Dry Cow - Third (Lady Serene 2)
Cow in Milk - First (Pansy)

Junior Champion - Goldie 162
Reserve Junior Champion - Goldie 176

Champion Dairy Shorthorn - Pansy

Honourable mention - Goldie 162

Loads of prize cards, rosettes and even a medal!

Congratulations to James and his team of helpers.