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.

A New Adventure

After the partying and celebrations at the weekend, we've hardly had time to draw breath and we're off on another roller coaster. For the first time we are showing at the Royal Highland Show. James left Strickley early on Wednesday with a trailer full of potential show winners (we hope). He, and the cows, will be there until Sunday night, so the Landrover was packed with essential supplies for all of them.

The show opened to the public yesterday, but the first Shorthorn Classes aren't until 10:00 am today.

So Good Luck to James,
Pansy, Lady Serene 2nd, Goldie 162 and Goldie 176.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Silver Linings

We must have been doing something right; after a week of wind and rain the clouds cleared on Saturday and the sun shone for us.

We started the party on Saturday night with a barbecue. No one sneaked off inside to warm up and everyone from 4 weeks old to 80+ enjoyed themselves. But no sleeping in the next day. There were glasses and pots to wash, a marquee to dress and lunch to prepare.

By eleven o'clock we were altogether again in St Stephen Church to celebrate Isabella Beatrice's baptism. She was the star of the show - laughing and smiling, especially during the hymns. You can always rely on the Robinsons to fill the church with music.

Then back to Strickley for lunch, toasts and generally sitting around in the sun. At last we managed what we've trying for months to achieve - a family photograph with children, parents, grandparents and even dogs!

And now it's back to reality - back to school and work. The marquee is back to looking like a rather plain tent. The balloons have been released into the sky and the recycling bin filled with bottles. The fridge is still full of food, so no need to think about shopping or cooking for a while.
Loads of photographs and happy memories.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Whose idea was it . . .

. . . to have an outdoor party in the middle of June?

Visions of sitting around on the patio sipping Champagne, lazily hitting a few croquet balls, children splashing in the paddling pool, retreating from the baking sun into the shade of the marquee - all fading fast, as the rain continues to beat against the windows. It seems to have rained solidly since I last watered the plants on Monday.

It's too wet to mow the grass. It's too windy to put up the tent (sorry, marquee). The barbecue's full of water. We are constantly checking the forecast - full of hope when it suggests it will all blow over before tomorrow night. Hopes dashed when the Met. Office change their mind half an hour later.

But we are eternal optimists. The planning goes on. The wine and beer are chilling. The fridge is full of "outdoor food". We're dusting off the croquet hoops and polishing the boules.

Meanwhile - It's Raining Again.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Rabbit Proof Fence - not

At the weekend while it was still hot and sunny we continued to work on the patio - trying to get it as finished as possible before Izzy's Christening Weekend. It's good to a have a deadline. The thought of hoards (though friendly hoards) arriving for a barbecue on Saturday and outdoor lunch on Sunday tends to concentrate the mind somewhat. Henry has temporarily stopped building now - we've got wonderful stone steps, with a rather new looking wall at one side - topped by two brand new stone balls. In time they will weather and match those on the house and buildings, but they currently look a bit too new. I think we have to cover them in yogurt to encourage ageing (or maybe muck?).

There was an old fence between the new garden and the paddock, which was good enough to deter the convalescent cows that sometimes recuperate there. I assumed it was not rabbit proof, for as you know they've been nibbling my new plants, and the nuisance would be no worse with no fence there. But since Henry took it down (to be replaced in time by something better), a rabbit family seems to have moved in. Maybe it was the thunder storm last night and they were only sheltering.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Grass, grass, grass and more grass

With the first cut silage safely in the pit, you may think that's it for 6 weeks. But no. The pastures we were keeping for the cows have been growing at such a rate it's "got away from them". So the mower was barely parked up before it was out again. This time it will be big baled. We've booked a slot with the contractor and the weather looks good. So, barring breakdowns and Acts of God there will be a stack of black plastic parcels by Wednesday night.

A busy day ahead all round - more muck to be spread (I don't think I'll hang any washing out today), grass to be scaled, four cows to be sent off on their Final Journey, VAT return to complete, stacks of filing to sort and maybe 5 minutes sitting out in the sun (it is supposed to be my day off work).

Monday, 4 June 2007

All is safely gathered in . .

At last the weather held out and we got our First Cut of silage. 114 acres of grass is safely in the pit. In a week or two we'll take a sample for analysis so we can workout a Winter Feed Plan.

But what makes the grass grow? I few weeks ago I said in a Blog entry "I can here the grass grow" - well today it's another sense. As I got out of the car tonight there was a definite agricultural whiff in the air. It's all input and output: the cows eat the grass (or silage), the waste product goes in the slurry pit, and then onto the fields.

I've been searching for an online clip of a famous song (by The Yetties) that shows what can happen if you're a bit careless with the muck spreader. But Youtube has let me down. Maybe someone else can find it (or even record and upload it?). So in the meantime, here's the words. I'm sure you know the tune, so feel free to sing along.

Fling it here, fling it there.
If you're standing by then you'll all get your share.

Now down on our farm we are right up to date,
And mechanisation's the byword of late.
For every task we've a gadget to match
But our new muckspreader's the best of the batch.

Fling it here, fling it there.
If you're standing by then you'll all get your share.

Now young Walter Hodgekins he brought back a load
Of liquid manure from the farm down the road
And he hummed to himself as he drove down the street -
And his load it went hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm in the afternoon heat.

Fling it here, fling it there.
If you're standing by then you'll all get your share.

Now his muckspreader had a mechanical fault
And a bump in the road set it off with a jolt.
An odourous spray of manure it let fly
Without fear or favour on all it passed by.

Fling it here, fling it there.
If you're standing by then you'll all get your share.

The cats and the dogs stank to high kingdom come;
The kiddies, browned off, ran home screaming to Mum.
The trail of sheer havoc were terrible grim -
One open car were filled up to the brim.

Fling it here, fling it there.
If you're standing by then you'll all get your share.

The spinster, Miss Pringle, was quite scandalised.
"Good Gracious", she cried, "I've been fertilised".
And the Methodist minister's tee-total wife
Was plastered for the very first time in her life.

Fling it here, fling it there.
If you're standing by then you'll all get your share.

The vicarage windows were all open wide
When a generous helping descended inside.
The vicar at table intoned "let us pray".
When this manure from heaven came flying his way.

Fling it here, fling it there.
If you're standing by then you'll all get your share.

Now all of this time as he'd trundled along
He was quite unaware there was anything wrong'
Till a vision of woe flagged him down,
what a sight,
A policeman all covered in ... you've got it right.

Fling it here, fling it there.
If you're standing by then you'll all get your share.
Fling it here, fling it there.
If you're standing by then you'll all get your share

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Does anyone know the number for AntiPesto?

Our new patio garden is proving very popular. It gets regular visits from a local extended family, who find some of the plants more attractive than others.

I expected to have slug problems, but it never occurred to me that RABBITS would prefer tender new shoots on my plants to the boring green grass in the paddock. But the evidence is there - new growth nipped off (some plants are half the size they were), and even the beginnings of burrowing.

So what can we do? All (sensible) suggestions welcome.

They seem to prefer Trailing Fuscias and Bizzy Lizzies - and of course never go near the Berberis. So perhaps selective planting is the answer, or a thorny hedge round the more succulent plants.

So rabbits beware - or the we may have to resort to one of these options -