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.