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.