Our Ten Year Plan to have a magnificent patio and garden at the back of the house is slowly reaching fruition. It began PD (pre digital), so I've no photos to hand to show the initial digging out. After a quick levelling and scattering of gravel, we enjoyed being able to sit out in the evening sun and decided to make a "proper job" of it.
Drains were laid, electricity cables were laid (just in case). And the ground left to settle. Now this seemed to be a euphemism for leaving the next phase until next year. But eventually work began again on what was now just a weedy patch of earth.
More levelling and a retaining wall, artistically curved round the corner, and we (or rather Henry) were ready to lay the paving blocks.
The blocks were laid over all the main patio, and once again work was put on hold as the evenings became too short to work after milking.
By Easter 2007 we were ready to get the new table and chairs out of storage and drink a toast to many family parties outside in the sun.
A few pots of flowers provided an instant garden, and for a few days it was even hot enough the justify the parasol.
We were probably going to do Phase 2 (the path round the house) in the same leisurely time scale, but a suggestion that we have our Granddaughter's Christening Party at Strickley in June served to concentrate the mind and we (ie Henry) have been working every night to level the ground, remove the old rickety steps up to the paddock, build more wall, lay more blocks and build our very own Grand Design - the new steps.
"The Three R's"?
Reduce - Recycle - Re-use
Or as farmers and hoarders say "Don't throw anything away - it may come in useful". All the stones for the wall, the flags for the steps etc were from Strickley and the paving stones were taken up from someone else's drive. And even the small low window in the picture above has been been recycled (admittedly a long time ago - it was a mullion window in the long since demolished wing of Bleaze Hall). Now all we need to find is an old gate to put at the top of the steps to keep stock in the paddock, and get ready to enjoy sitting around doing nothing!
Accuweather (which doesn't always live up to its name)?
Or the seaweed on the windowsill?
Ar this time of year, there's only one subject up for discussion - when do we cut for silage. We're essentially optimists, so we'll probably look at all the forecasts and then choose to believe the best one!
Remember the Readers Digest letters? Hinting that you were already a winner (in a draw you didn't even know you had entered) -promising prizes of untold magnificence.
Well, we received something similar yesterday from NMR, about a new award scheme which recognises "efficient milk production", using NMR's "unique measure - Lifetime Daily Yield" and "a cow in your herd has been identified as having one of the highest values among NMR recorded herds".
We know we have won at least a certificate, but it could be more! But I've a feeling no monetary value is involved.
At the beginning of the month, I threw out a challenge to name a bull (son of Crusader and Pansy). I should have added the rider, that we were not bound to accept any of them, and that the editor's (or editor's son's) decision is final.
And now, after carefully considering all (one) suggestions, I discover I have been misinformed! The sire was not Crusader, but Thorndale Chester (Crusader's father - are you keeping up with this?). So please feel free to ignore the picture of a Crusader on the original post, and substitute it in your mind with one of Chester.
James is following a vague line of thought that takes in films, especially Bond ones, so the new name is
And the link to Chester? Daniel Craig (the latest James Bond) was born in Chester!
Some people manage to write reams in their Blogs every day. Not so me. Unless you want to know that I got up at 5 o'clock every morning, drove to work, laboured away all day (brain power not muscle power), drove home, made supper, checked there was something in the freezer for next day's dinner, sat down and fell asleep. Oh, and it rained every day. Not all day, but just enough to remind us that the previous week's good weather was an unseasonable abnormality.
But really all I've been doing all week is listening out for a phone call. I'm a grandmother-in-waiting expecting some news Any Day Now. Watch this space.
Yesterday we put up a gate, so a cow that was temporarily in the Paddock next to the new patio garden, couldn't damage any plants etc. It kept the cow out, the cow and calf were moved on to their proper places, then the gate fell down, squashed the plants and broke two solar powered lights.
Apologies if you fave seen this before - it has been around for a long time. But with Polling Day tomorrow I thought it rather apt. Feel free to substitute any other country or government for those below. FEUDALISM You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.
PURE SOCIALISM You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.
BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took form the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs the regulations say you need.
FASCISM You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.
PURE COMMUNISM You have two cows. Your neighbours help you to take care of them, and you all share the milk.
RUSSIAN COMMUNISM You have two cows. You have to take care of them but the government takes all the milk.
CAMBODIAN COMMUNISM You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.
DICTATORSHIP You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.
PURE DEMOCRACY You have two cows. Your neighbours decide who gets the milk.
REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.
PURE ANARCHY You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbours try to take the cows and kill you.
BUREAUCRACY You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them, and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.
SURREALISM You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.
Since the BSE scare in the 1990's and the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001 one of the buzz words of Defra (previously known as MAFF, when the F stood for Farming), has been "traceability". All cows, bulls, calves etc have a Passport with a unique Tag number. You have probably seen stock in the fields with big yellow earrings. Every time an animal moves off or onto a farm, it's movement has to be logged with BCMS (British Cattle Movement Service). In theory, they can tell where any individual animal is on any day. It is said that if the BCMS were in charge of immigration, there would be no one unaccounted for.
Some cows are just recognised by their Tag numbers, but some are more than numbers. You may not know that cows have family trees just as we do. Some of the cows in our current Dairy herd can trace their family history at Strickley as far back as we can. The Strickley Herd are Pedigree Dairy Shorthorns, with all the cows registered with the Shorthorn Society (in Coates Herdbook). So as well as their Tag numbers, they have a pedigree name. The first part is the Herd Prefix (the herd where they were bred), followed by the family name and number. As the cows are the most important members of the herd, the name follows the female line. So Strickley Goldie's calf is also called Strickley Goldie, with a different number. Goldie 3 was born in 1931 and Goldie 185 in 2007.
Bull calves are not always registered with the Shorthorn Society, but if we keep one for breeding we get the chance to find a new name. It usually reflects the dams name, and may be influenced by the sire. This week one of our show winning cows, Strickley Pansy had a bull calf which we are thinking of keeping to breed from. The sire was a bull called Crusader. So what do you think we should call the calf? Answers on a postcard please! (Or a Blog comment). Remember, the name stays with it for the rest of its life - no changing by Deed Poll!