Monday, 22 December 2008

Another Year Older . . .

The weekend went by in a whirl and I'm back at my desk trying to remember it all. One minute there were just two of us dozing by the fire, the next the house was full of children (young and old). We had a very easy going party on Saturday. I activated the Birthday Girl's prerogative and did the food I like (which happened to be easy to prepare), washed down with English-can't-call-it-Champagne. I was completely overwhelmed by the mountain of cards (and emails and texts and flowers), and especially the thought and planning that went into the presents from Henry and the children. Henry knew which hi-tech gadget I secretly yearned for, and Victoria, James and Rob (and families) came up with a complete on-off. From an idea by Victoria, designed by Rob and sourced by James, they created an especially commissioned pendant. No one else has, or will have one like it.
The pace didn't let up on Sunday. After persuading everyone they really only wanted one slice of toast for breakfast, we were able to enjoy a family lunch at a local pub/restaurant.
And then they were gone. After an exchange of brightly wrapped parcels (and I'm still not convinced the right ones went in the right cars) it was back to the two of us.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Nothing Changes

After work today I'm off to the supermarket to stock up on a few more essentials. We are pretty well fully stocked now, but you can never have too much. And it's been like that for over 200 years. This is an extract from The Daily Universal Register's Christmas Day Editorial of 1787 -

"Let the larder be well stuffed with provisions. Let the cellar be well stored with liquors, and let there be plenty of fuel to make roaring fires - for Christmas is come... there should not only be enough to eat, and enough to drink, but also enough to give away. When the heart rejoices in the hour of conviviality, it should be remembered, that thousands are oppressed with grief."

Friday, 12 December 2008

A Quiet Week

Not a lot has been happening at Strickley this week. All the stock are now inside, which means more of the day is taken up with feeding and mucking out. It's a long time to turnout. Henry and James have been hedging and Arthur has been doing a bit of walling. Who's Arthur you may ask? Is this a new worker? It's Henry's brother who has retired from gainful employment, but being 20 minutes younger than Henry is far too young to sit by the fire all day. He did his apprenticeship building a wall round his garden (rumour has it he learned from an article on the Internet), and is now a fully qualified expert in repairing the endless slips in our walls. Click here to see hedging and walling. But Arthur has another new job on Sunday. Top Secret - but it involves wearing a special costume that only comes out once a year. Don't tell anyone!

Meanwhile my Christmas preparations are going according to plan. The cake's made (but needs icing). The presents are all bought (but need wrapping). The cards are printed and envelopes written (but need signing). The tree is ordered (delivered this weekend). Grocery deliveries booked (pre Birthday and pre Christmas). Wine ordered and arrived. Large sack of bread flour ordered. Coke ordered (due today).

And the festivities have begun. Last week it was the North West Shorthorn Society Christmas Dinner, tonight I'm out on the town with friends from work and tomorrow we're out to dinner with a local Shoot.

Time for a rest and/or do some work.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Lost Christmas

Lost - "The Best Christmas Album in the World Ever"

Found - in slot 6 of the car's CD changer, where it's been hiding since January 6th.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

So far today. . . .

. . . .

Bulk feed wagon stuck in lane - pushed up by digger.
Tractor skidded and stuck down a ramp.
Cow down with milk fever.
School and pre-school closed.

It's a good job I'm off work and here to entertain two little boys!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Read All About It

Click here for the latest news from DFB.

I've been doing the maths - it's not difficult

50000 litres a month x -2ppl = -£1000

Friday, 28 November 2008

Weekly Update

Now this doesn't mean that I will be only posting news once a week, or that I will always be doing an update - but sometimes there's not a lot to say. Looking back over the past few days I've been trying to remember what we've been up to. Sometimes the days merge into one, only differentiated by the weather. The weather has to some extent governed farm jobs lately, and if you've been downwind of Strickley you will know what we've been doing. Muck is always with us and if the ground is not too soft it's a chance to lower the level in the pit.

On Monday (or was it Tuesday?) we had an Dairy Inspection. This is unannounced on behalf of the FSA. All was well, and it's reassuring to know that we're part of the link proving that British food is the safest there is. About the same time James' new shed arrived - made at a Cumbrian prison. So that was another job done this week - put in place, assembled and roofed. It's now up to James and Michelle to fill it.

We've also had the vet on his monthly routine visit. Of the 11 heifers he PD'd 10 are in calf.

We've had a meeting with the Accountant and it's good to know we're Doing Alright. Though we'll never be bothered by Gordon's tax on the Super Rich.

Most of the stock is inside now, so Doing Up takes longer, but in between Henry and James have sawed up a lot of wood to feed our Wood Burners. We aim to be really warm and snug this winter. Following on from adding extra insulation to the pantry roof, Henry has now crawled through the loft space above two bedrooms and the bathroom, with the Space Blanket in tow. We have to partly thank his age for this - as he's over 60 he qualifies for the Winter Fuel Allowance, so we've used it to buy 2 for 1 insulation from a nearby DIY store (where he get 10% Over 60's Discount). There's some advantages to being old.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Signs That Winter Is Here

1. Henry and James have started hedging.
2. We kept the stove in all night
3. The mice are sneaking into the house
4. Porridge for breakfast
5. And of course snow!

And nothing to do with winter - but please spare a thought for the Shipleys. Elliot has just recovered from Chickenpox, and now it's Fletcher's turn.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

I have a little list

or "The Countdown Begins"

One of the advantages of working "funny shifts" (as my family think of them) is that once every six weeks I get the best shift of all, known to us at work as "your five days off". I usually have all sorts of plans of things to do, and this time the list is even longer as I must try to at least start to get Christmas organised. The five days off is of course followed by less family friendly weeks and 4 weeks today we're having a Bit Of A Do which also needs planning.

So I've started by writing a list.

Make the cake
Finish the Present shopping (amazingly I'm quite well on with this)
Make the Christmas cards
Monthly accounts
Make certificates for Shorthorn Herd Competition (yes, I know the results!)
Shop and cook for the long (5 day) weekend of working that follows the 5 days off
And the rest that I've forgotten

By I go back to work on Thursday I hope to have ticked off 4 things.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Plans & Draughts

or - how a free gift cost us £70.

Those of you that know Strickley know that the pantry can be a cold draughty place. If you don't know Strickley, then don't be imagining a small cupboard with shelves. It's a room of about 5 x 4 metres, built onto the back of the house with original stone flags, stone walls and just to keep it really fresh - underfloor ventilation from the back wall to a grating under the central slate table. As we're at least a twentieth century family we do keep that covered up. Draughts can also sneak in through the roof, even though we have added some insulation, so when we were offered some left over rolls of the latest 8 inch recycled bottles we jumped at the chance. We couldn't do just one length, so taking advantaged of Henry's over-60-10%-discount-card we bought some more. Some jobs (like the insulating) get done almost at once, but some take a little longer. At some point (in the last twenty years) a hole has been knocked in the wall for washer inlet/outlet pipes, and when we moved the washer to the back kitchen we only roughly patched up the hole. Another opportunity for draughts. But no more - a few stones and a bucket of cement and we're snug and tight. It's not exactly tropical, and we'll never really prove that what we did made a difference, but maybe the wine in the racks will not be as chilled now.

So much for draughts; what of our plans? The pantry isn't the only cold room (in fact there's only two warm rooms - the kitchen - courtesy of the Aga and woodburning stove, and the room above - courtesy of the hot water tank). We've long had plans to change that, and hope to set them in place after Christmas. We're still not absolutely sure which route to follow; either another woodburner in the Sitting Room, or running some radiators off the one in the Kitchen. But by summer, we aim to be warm as toast.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Four Greyhounds *

subtitled - I should have taken my camera

Yesterday was a bit of a social whirl for us. In the morning we nipped up the motorway to Cranstons at Penrith to stock up on meat, especially large joints of beef and Pork & Black Pudding sausages. We came back over Shap and stopped off for lunch on the way.It's much pleasanter driving on the A6 with no spray from wagons. It's hard to imagine now that this was the main route to Scotland until the M6 was built. I love coming back down towards Kendal and seeing the views change as the road descends. Yesterday was very foggy on the summit, but as we came down a small clear spot opened up and in the distance the sun was glinting on the sea in Morecambe Bay. If only I'd had my camera . . .

Later in the day Henry left James to finish of the milking while we went south down the motorway to a secret rendezvous in Cheshire. In 1967 I was one of a group of girls fresh from school, and living away from home for the first time, starting teacher training at Edge Hill in Ormskirk. And 41 years on a group of us are still in touch. This is of course a year of Significant Birthdays for most of us and two husbands had remarkably managed to arrange a surprise birthday party for Joan and Sue (I don't mean it is remarkable that they arranged it, but that they managed to keep it secret!). Amongst Sue and Joan's family and friends 9 still young girls from the Sixties held their own in an evening of eating, drinking, dancing (yes, even me) and most of all talking and reminiscing.
If only I'd had my camera I could have shared a photo of Clough's finest -
Joan, Sue, Helen, Celia, Brenda, Pat, Liz, Judith and Kathleen.

* One greyhound
Three greyhounds

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Great Escape begins

On Wednesday the first batch of wintering sheep arrived. They have no pre-entry interviews and we don't ask for references, but we always hope that they'll be on their best behaviour and content to stay where they're put and eat the grass.
By yesterday two of them had been on the road, so that escape hatch is now fixed. I hope they were just exploring the boundaries and weren't an advance party sent to reconnoitre the land beyond the hedge, while the main party were busing working on Tom, Dick or Harry

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Fire and Rain

It might have been cold, but at least it was fine, for our Bonfire & Firework Extravaganza. Last night the Strickley, Wellbank and Over Bleaze families, plus the Leicester contingent gathered down the fields to watch Flamenco Flames (Catherine Wheels to you and I), a Galaxy Striker and Guy Fawkes Revenge. As the bonfire died down we retreated indoors for soup and Sticky Toffee Pudding.

The title "Fire and Rain" is not strictly accurate. It should probably read "No Rain" as we are still struggling with transmitting the rain readings from the weather station. Watch this space, but don't hold your breath.

And for more Fire and Rain - click here.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Movements On and Off

This afternoon two of our bulls are leaving us for another life. We are selling Goldfinger and Flurish to a Bull Hire firm in Lancashire. I only know in the most general of terms what this entails - but I assume it's like Temping at different companies, as they spend time with different herds before they get too jaded and move onto pastures (and cows) new.

And last night we brought home another bull - Dwersylt Lord Oxford 74th. He has several advantages

  • no vets bills

  • no expensive organic feed

  • no special housing

  • no six-day-rule

And the only real disadvantage

  • needs occasional dusting.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Water water everywhere . . . .

. . . except on our records! *

Despite installing a new Rain Gauge (which worked for a couple of days) we're once again showing dry weather at Strickley. Take my word for it - that's not the case. Thursday was the worst day for years. It took me longer than usual to get home from work as the road was flooded at the bottom of Bannerigg and the Police were directing cars through one at a time. But yesterday was worse and the floods came up sooner. One of the problems with heavy rain around the farm buildings is that it all runs down into the slurry pit and with the water from the heavens the pit was filling up alarmingly. There was much checking and diverting of drains and we didn't overflow. Today looks as though it's going to be better, but with the ground so waterlogged we're still on flood alert. Henry's about to go round the stock, if the becks have gone down enough to cross.

* there's even about 5-6 inches in our cellar. We're wise to it now and everthing is on shelves or in plastic boxes. The bottom layer of coke is underwater but eventually the water will retreat the way it came in. The floor of stone flags is laid on the earth and when the field behind can't take anymore the water rises. We thought we had sorted it when we dug out the patio behind the house, but the rain this year has been exceptional.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Not just a pretty face

They may look cute and doleful (and apparently the calves really have the "Aah factor") - but come next May they'll be earning their keep.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Neue Ankünfte

With a few pounds burning a hole in his pocket, James set off for Dumfries this morning. The fact that he took the cattle trailer showed he was serious. So we’ve got a few “foreigners” at Strickley – four in-calf Brown Swiss heifers. Looking at the Brown Swiss website, it seems they have many of the same advantages as Dairy Shorthorns - as it says –

The main attractions of Brown Swiss are:
Longevity - reduces replacement costs.
Temperament - cows that are a pleasure to work with.
Calving Ease - reduces health problems associated with difficult births. Less Vets bills!
Legs & Feet - Good locomotion and strong, black feet, reduce the incidence of lameness.
Flatter Lactations - Cows hold more condition meaning less stress on udders and easier to get in calf.
Forage Capacity - aggressive feeders that do especially well on forage based systems.
Protein - Higher, naturally occurring, proteins.
Better General Health - Lower incidence of Mastitis. Milk Fever, Ketosis and displaced abomasums are rarities. Lower vet costs + lower replacement rates

These heifers, due to calve in April/May are from the Kedar Herd near Dumfries. They’re fully organic and we’re sure they will settle in well at Strickley. I’m not sure about the names though – they’re nothing like we’ve had before – definitely have a hint of foreign parts. I’m hoping to get some photographs soon (and they’re very photogenic).

Welcome to Kedar Alfi, Kedar Special Tinke 2nd, Kedar Jolt Terz and Kedar Beretta Her Linde.

Have you worked out what the Blog title says? "New Arrivals".

Virtual Rain

Despite the fact that it never seems to stop raining, today has been fine (so far). So where has the rain on the Weather site come from? Not from the pressure of rain drops, but from Henry's finger on the "tipper" on our new rain sensor. The new part arrived yesterday, but it was far too wet to be fiddling about with wires, sensors and transmitters. So now we need a heavy downpour to put it though its paces. (N0 - forget I said that!)

And what else is happening on this rare day? Slurry spreading of course. There's a bit of an agricultural whiff all around.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Yesterday the Strickley Herd was classified.
Overall there were 3 EX's, 21 VG's and 27 GP's

Singling out a just a few -

Pansy - EX92 3e
Starlet 51 (by Winbrook Diamond) - EX90
Goldie 169 - VG87 (3yo)
Merrymaid 3 and Dairymaid 2 - VG88 (4yo)
Goldie 175 and Starlet 90 - VG86 (VG87 mamm) (2yo)

Apologies to James if I've misinterpreted what he told me! If you want more details, just get in touch.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Progress Report

After moving transmitters, changing batteries, resetting every component several times, we think we know why we're not recording rain. It seems to be the main rain collector that's faulty, so I've ordered a replacement and hopefully we'll be up and running one day next week.
Yesterday was wet - very wet - and I'm sure there was more rain than last Saturday (which was a record day) but have no way of proving it.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Don't believe the computer!

If you've looked at the Strickley Weather lately you might think we're enjoying a spell of fine weather. Not so. It's pouring down (as it did on Tuesday). There's still a slight problem with the transmitter that sends the rain totals from the measuring gizmo in the Teapot Field to the computer in the office. It may be as simple as the batteries (though it is transmitting other data) or we may need a new sender unit. As it's best investigated in daylight (and I'm at work till 6 this week) we've not delved too deeply.
We reckon there was well over half an inch on Tuesday, and if it carries on like this, there'll be more today.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

It never rains but it pours . .

. . . but then it doesn't register it!
Apparently it has poured down for hours at Strickley today (but what do I know in a nice dry office?) but hasn't been picked up by the Weather Station. Even pouring water from a jug into the measuring cup had no effect.
More investigation needed.

And not only but also - when Henry switched the tumble drier on today, a circuit in the house fused. The drier is quite old, but I hope has a few more years left in it.
More investigation needed.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Since Records Began

We knew that yesterday was wet (we huddled under umbrellas as we scuttled from car to Church for Christine and Fred's Wedding), but we didn't realise how relentless the rain had been till we got home and looked at the Weather Station. And if you look on the Weather site you'll see scrolling across the top the All Time Records. 1.614 inches of rain yesterday (41mm). This link shows the graph with the rain line moving steadily upwards.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Shame about the rain

As you will have seen if you check out the weather at Strickley, today has been particularly wet. Steady horizontal rain all day. Which is a pity, because after waiting over thirty years Henry's sister picked today to get married.Despite the wet and gloomy conditions outside (and we didn't hang about between church/car/hotel) it was a day filled with brightness and joy. The church was packed with family and friends (from 3 months to I hesitate to say how old), and we celebrated the marriage of Christine Ruth Wilkinson (nee Robinson) to Frederick Frank Kingsley-Chase.

I apologise for the quickly snapped photo, but I'm a fair weather photographer! This is Christine and Fred and the grandchildren - who all played a part, either as bridesmaids, ring bearers or ushers.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Yet More Grass

Even though the mower has been (temporarily) put away we were still busy mowing on Sunday. As anyone who knows us will testify we're not the keenest of gardeners at Strickley. There are two small lawns in the front garden (what might be called a scratty bit of grass), surrounded by rambling shrubs (wildlife garden), with the patio area round the back. We do make more of an effort with this (especially as the beds are at an accessible height), but this year it's looked a bit more unloved than it ought. We're blaming the weather - no long summer evenings, idly doing a bit of weeding while soaking up the sun.
Beyond the patio is The Paddock. This is actually the top portion of the field called The Paddock that is now fenced off from stock and has over the past few years been a tennis court (got the nets), croquet lawn (got the flamingoes and hedgehogs) and is now a playing field for grandchildren. We're lucky to have a ride on mower, but haven't been able to cut the grass for a couple of months. It was either too wet, or if it was fine and dry we were too busy cutting "real grass". But yesterday Henry got the mower out. It was a slow job as the "grass box" filled up frequently. He emptied each load into the digger bucket, and that in turn was emptied into the Feeder. This weighs and mixes the cows' feed, and by the end of the mowing marathon it held half a tonne of grass.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Comings and Goings. . .

. . well, mainly goings.

Lately Strickley stock has been moving away, some just up the road and some to the far South West.
We've sold heifer calves to Somerset and Bishop Aukland, bull calves to Ambleside and cows in milk to Whinfell.

But if you're after a bull, then get in touch with us - see our advert on the Shorthorn Society's website. As it says there -

"Young pedigree Dairy Shorthorn bulls for sale. Out of EX/VG high index dams. Ready for work, some with calves already on the ground. From Bluetongue clean area and 4yr TB testing area. Photos of bulls and dams available on request."

Sunday, 21 September 2008

A Record

Our milk production has been creeping up lately as more cows calve, and when the milk is collected (every other day) it's been edging towards 4000 litres. And today we made it! The tankers just been and there was 4001 litres! It must be because I had toast yesterday instead of cereal.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

If The Sun Shines On The Righteous . . .

. . . we must be doing something right!

In a perfect world we would have finished second cut silage the beginning of August, but as we all know this year's weather has been anything but perfect. We have snatched the odd field of big bales, and at the end of August in a very small window of fine weather we got about 45 acres of mainly flat fields. Most of you will know that some of our fields are not flat, and even the smallest banking can become impossible to travel on when it's wet. And the ground has got wetter and wetter. We needed more than one fine day, not to dry the grass, but for the ground to dry out underneath. The weather forecasts have been rather vague, promising fine weather - but with the possibility of patchy rain in Cumbria (yes - but where and when!). But having checked the seaweed we got the mower out. James mowed as much as he could, but when the tractor started to slide away, our contractor came to help out with his bigger tractor.

There's a bit of a clue to the steepness in the field names - Front Bank, Back Bank, Strickley Hill, Brant (old word for steep). Photographs of most of our fields are on this page of our website.

Henry rowed up the grass to give the ground as much chance as possible to dry out, and last night we started picking up. One of the problems of silaging so late in the year is that it gets darker much sooner, and driving a tractor and trailer crossways across a steep bank in the dark is maybe not the wisest move. Today started off dull and overcast, but it seemed to be as good as it was going to get. And the sun came out and continued to shine so we were able to get 45 acres in the pit by milking.

So that's it for now. We may make a few more big bales, but at the moment it's sighs of relief all round. After milking Henry and James will work till dark tidying and rolling the pit, ready to sheet it up.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Ups and Downs

The past day and a half has been a series of Ups and Downs

Up - fine weather - even sunny at times for Westmorland Show
Down - should we have stayed at home to mow?

Up - our cattle looked magnificent and were superbly handled (thank you Sean and Cerys).
Down - not quite magnificent enough to win Breed Championship (though we did get reserve)

Up - we won the Best Group of Three
Down - it's a very large rose bowl and the sideboard is full to bursting

Up - yesterday was Activation Day with BT Broadband - an end to our Internet troubles?
Down - not yet working, now no Internet!

Up - Friday morning - finally connected again. Internet and Email working OK.
Up/Down - who knows? Our Domain name is in the process of being transferred to BT, and when it arrives I can (hopefully) upload the Website.

And for those who like to know, here's how the Strickley stock did at the Show

Maiden heifer under 18 months
1st Strickley Athena 3
5th Strickley Athena 2
(twins by Nejay Prince)
Heifer in calf under 3 years old
1st Strickley Telstar 13
Cow in calf
2nd Strickley Goldie 162
Heifer in milk
1st Strickley Starlet 90
3rd Strickley Goldie 173
Cow in milk
3rd Strickley Starlet 51
4th Strickley Pansy
Group of Three
1st - Starlet 90, Starlet 51 & Pansy
Reserve Champion
Strickley Starlet 90

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Two Fine Days!

At last we had two fine days together and we finally managed to finish first cut silage. We had one field on The Lots left to do which we managed to cut, bale and wrap yesterday.

Now - there's only half of second cut left. There doesn't seem to be much of a break in the weather over the next few days. At least if it's raining we won't have to make A Difficult Decision on Thursday. It's Westmorland Show and I don't know which way we would turn if the weather was fit for silaging. As it is we'll be at the Show (which is guaranteed to be on despite any rain we've had or will get,) so if you're there come to the Cattle Lines to see one of the best displays of Dairy Shorthorns in the country.

Friday, 5 September 2008

No Show But Another Cup

As you know Grayrigg Show was cancelled yesterday, but we still managed to win another cup. The classes judged on farm (General Stock, Beef and Dairy Herds) had already been judged - in our case in appalling rain on Tuesday. Last night we went to the after show dinner dance and were very pleased to receive the cup for the Best Dairy Herd.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Deed is Done

Just a quick update re websites etc - we're started the process by ordering Broadband from BT. This is due to be activated 11th September. So on that day there is the possibility that emails could fall between the cracks (or into the black hole that exists between BT and FOL). When that is working I will transfer the domain name and upload the website.
That's the plan anyway.

But just a word of warning - 11th September is Westmorland Show, so don't expect much to happen during the day.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Doom and Gloom

There's bad news and there's more bad news.

Unbeknownst to me Farming Online stopped hosting member websites on Monday 1st September. So the Strickley site, including the weather page, is currently offline. I have started the process of moving to another ISP (requested a MAC) but I'm not sure how long will take or how simple it will be to upload the site to another host. (But as I work in the right department for unlimted IT help I'm reasonably confident!)

And the other news? Grayrigg (tomorrow) has just been cancelled. If you could see our weather page you'd know how much rain we've had lately.

And is this Good or Bad News? We get to keep the cups for another year - even the-great-big-over-the-top -for-a -small-show-one!

There May Be Trouble Ahead

Ever since we first went on line (in the slow old days of dial-up) we have been with the same ISP. We stayed with them we we eventually got Broadband, and then took advantage of their offer of webspace to launch the Strickley website.

We've been happy with their service and would probably have stayed with them. Although I had started to look at other options after our broadband problems last week. But while I was chasing up the non-working of the Strickley site after their upgrade, I was told that they are stopping hosting members' sites from next Monday!

So it's time to jump ship. I think we will put all our eggs in one basket - broadband, website and domain. I will start to phone up today, but I don't expect it to be instant. So apologies in advance for any disruption in service. As I can update the Blog from any PC I can post updates of the progress

Monday, 1 September 2008

Now I know what's gone wrong next

Having fixed the Broadband and the Weather software, access to the Strickley website and weather site is suddenly restricted (so you may not even see this if you access the Blog via the main website). I've looked on our ISP's site and seen the following - which I assume means hosted sites may be offline

IMPORTANT The Farming Online website will have limited functionality while upgrade work is carried out.
Access will be limited to News, Weather key Prices. Full service will resume within 48hrs.
Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.


If it's not one thing it's another!
Having got the Broadband working again, and the Weather back to updating every 15 minutes, the Console that picks up the signals from the weather station seems to have had a funny few hours, hence a very flat graph until I realised that it might seem to be the same weather as usual, but there's usually a few peaks and troughs.
I think it's fixed, but I'm waiting to see what else will go wrong

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Easier to find us

For over 4 years James and Michelle have had a hastily hand written board at the end of the lane, with Wellbank in (now) faded marker pen.

But no more, while Michelle was away last week James carved out an impressive sign (on a lump of sandstone he happened to have lying about) as an early Birthday present. And with the Strickley sign repainted, there's no excuse not to find us.

Friday, 29 August 2008

It really is GOOD NEWS!

At last we are connected!

For those who have missed their regular weather fix, it's running now with the current status, and it will upload the past 11 days' statistics tonight.

It's been a funny 11 days cut off from the virtual world.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Looking For Good News

Firstly, apologies to regular Weather Watchers. As we are still without Broadband (10 days now) I can't give you an up to date view of the weather at Strickley. It is still recording and saving the data on the computer, so if anyone is really really interested, when everything is back to normal, all the graphs and trends will be uploaded.

I've been in daily contact with our ISP and BT (except over the Bank Holiday when everyone shut down except us) and have the possible promise of an engineer on site tomorrow. I will be at home for the next few days so there's also a possible threat that I will lock the door and not let the engineer escape until it is fixed. We thought at first it was the lightening that struck us down, but it has been suggested that the line was too fast for us (at 2 mb) and we were "on the limit". So while everyone gets upgraded to amazing speeds, we get downgraded to a lowly 512 kb. I'm tending to think that this is our ISP's last chance and I'm looking at other options.

And now the Good News (and proof that I'm getting older). Elliot started his new school today. In Leicestershire they move on at 10 (rather than 11). Victoria took his photograph first thing today (before he's played football in the playground or lost his tie). If you want to read Victoria's Blog, get in touch with her as it's by invitation only.
And next week Robert starts "proper school", having been to Pre-school - and Chris moves onto Pre School.
Fletcher is walking and Izzy almost riding a bike, so there's no stopping the younger generation.

And finally, I'm sorry for not replying to emails since 18th - I can read them online (courtesy of other people's computers) but I'm saving them up to reply when we get ourselves sorted.

Monday, 25 August 2008

All (well some) is safely gathered in

So far mostly good news.

On Friday we mowed about 47 acres - fields that weren't actually standing in water, and enough acres to get in one day. By 6.30 on Saturday it was all in the pit - and James had even had time to judge at the Wensleydale Show.

Not so good news - we had a puncture on the Manitou while rolling the pit (have you tried to get someone to come out on a Bank Holiday Sunday?)

Bad news - it's raining again!

Friday, 22 August 2008

Good News, Bad News

Well the Good News 1 is they've identified the problem and it will be fixed. The Bad News? Not till next Wednesday (27th).

Good News 2 - we're being refunded 3 months charges.

Good News 3 - we've started mowing again - this time for clamp silage
Bad News - none yet, but there will be if it rains before the grass is picked up.

And, many thanks to James & Michelle for letting me do these updates from their computer.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Frozen In Time

If you look at our Weather site, you'll see the time the clock stopped, or rather the time the broadband line went down - 19:45 18th August. There's still no news on when this might change. Today an BT Broadband engineer came out. He confirmed (by plugging in his laptop and modem) that the line is indeed dead. So he went down to the pole at the end of the lane. Dead there also. He then went down to the "Green Box" at Oxenholme. (There always seems to be a BT van there and someone fiddling with the wires). He says the problem is the line from the Exchange is too fast (at 2mb - not that we ever saw anything over 1mb) and we are "on the limit". He is going to pass his findings onto FOL and ask them to reduce the speed. The lightening may have been a red herring, or caused an already feeble connection to give up. I will be contacting FOL later.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Not Quite Connected

We now have the voice line working, but so far no Broadband.

So no updates to the Weather or Emails (and I can't get on the Internet!)

I've a feeling we may be Broadbandless for sometime (and I'm not going to attempt to use dial-up) as problem seems to fall between two suppliers. So, anything urgent, please ring rather emailing. I can view emails online from another computer, but don't rely on my doing this very frequently.

And what's going to happen in the future? Maybe we should all our eggs in one basket, then if we drop them at least it's only one persons job to fix.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Flash, Bang, Wallop

Last night we were quietly sitting round the kitchen table, discussing plans for the future (a wide ranging discussion taking in seed mixtures, bull types, wind turbines and of course the weather) when the sky, which had been steadily darkening, burst into life with streaks of lightening. A few moments later came the rumble of thunder. I rushed and unplugged the router and phone line. I would rather be incommunicado while the storm lasted than have the equipment damaged. After a while the weather calmed down and I plugged everything back in again. Too hasty! Another flash of lightening and clap of thunder - much nearer this time. Once again everything was unplugged. Later when I was really sure that the storm had passed I went to reconnect. Problem - no lights on the router. I switched it off and on, checked the wall socket, but no joy. Now this is where my Girl Guide training comes in (or paranoia). A few weeks ago I started to worry about the router failing and bought a "Hot Spare" (as similar to the old one as possible) and noted down all the settings etc. So I got it out of the box and plugged it in and dialled into it. The settings were laid out slightly differently but eventually it seemed to be set up correctly. So, time to test - log onto the BBC. No joy. Looking at the router status it seemed to be stuck at "connecting". With panic starting to set in (how will we cope without an Internet connection!) I started to think of other things that may have gone wrong - ie the phone line. That was it - no connection on the voice line, so probably none on the ADSL either. By now it was too late and too dark to phone BT (no mobile signal in the house) so the problem was put on hold till today.

So, if you're looking for the latest Strickley weather, I'm sorry, but it stopped uploading at 7.45 last night.

In the light of day it transpires that Wellbank's phones are also off, so we are in BT's hands. Further updates will follow.

Friday, 15 August 2008

A Break in the Clouds

At last - about 24 hours without rain, though we have seen it very close to us. So we took a gamble today and cut New Hutton Field. There's no chance of making clamp silage as rain is never far away and we would never get the grass wilted and picked up in time. So it's more big bales. But at least it's a step, a small one, in the right direction.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Since Records Began

(well, since we started keeping records)

Yesterday there was record rain in one hour - 0.827 inches at 16:48. The heavens opened and the rain came down, overflowing gutters and spoutings, washing all the gravel down the lane onto the road, putting 10 inches into the slurry pit and trapping cows across the beck.

If you click on this link you can see the graph. The red line is the rate of rain, and the steeper the steps, the faster the rain. I'm sure there was more really, and it bounced out of the measure. Today it's fine again, but no chance of cutting grass for silage as the forecast is not good.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Back from Cartmel

Well done Goldie 173 - Best Exhibit in the Dairy Shorthorn Classes

And the prize for the best invisible cow goes to Henry Robinson

Goldie has obviously had enough of waiting around and has headed off back to the cattle lines

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Old Ladies' Summer Outing

It's that time of year again, when our grand old lady Geri dusts herself down ready to strut her stuff at Cartmel Show.
Born 12 years ago and in calf again she should know what to do. She'll be accompanied by Fillpail (only 8) and the youngsters Goldie 175, Goldie 173, Athena 3 and Annabella 140.

Look out for an update tomorrow night, though photographs may be a problem in the pouring rain.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

This Year's Must Go Destination

Don't know where to go on holiday this year?
How about a farm holiday with views of stunning countryside and the gentle singing of the birds and mooing of the cows, and with sunshine guaranteed (OK I lied there)?

Last week we had friends caravanning in the Paddock, this week it's cousins tenting in the Paddock, and Victoria, Glenn and the boys in the house. Then later in the month more friends caravanning.

Note - only born and bred Strickley Robinsons and their friends need apply!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

See it in action

Last week I posted some photographs of our new rake swirling the scaled out grass into nice neat rows. But to really see it in action click on this video.

Thanks to camerawoman Jean

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Penrith Show

After a misty murky journey over Shap the day opened out into hot sunshine. Last year Penrith was one of many show that had to cancel because of the bad weather. But everyone returned this year, with 9 Shorthorn exhibitors and well presented cattle in all classes. The North of England Calf Show is also held at Penrith Show, so most people brought one or two calves. Some of these were entered just in the Calf Show classes, but some were also in the first "main" class of Maiden Heifers. We were very pleased that Strickley Athena 3 was placed 1st out of 19.

Other successes were -

Heifer in Milk - 1st Strickley Goldie 175 and 4th Strickley Goldie 173

Cow in Milk - 3rd Strickley Dairymaid 2

Group of 3 - 2nd

Reserve Champion Dairy Shorthorn - Strickley Goldie 175

Calf Show
Young calf - Strickley Annabella 140
Intermediate calf - Strickley Athena 3
Champion Calf - Strickley Athena 3

Friday, 25 July 2008

Even when we're not there. .

Strickley cows do well even in other herds -

At the Royal Welsh Show Strickley Lily 6 won the Dairy Shorthorn Championship (now in the hands of Owen Harris)

Thirty Eight Years Ago Today

25th July 1970
Stricklandgate Methodist Church
a few images - from long ago and farway

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Another Day Another Stack of Bales

We had thought of making hay of one of the fields we rent in (Garth's "Top Field) but in the end took the easier (and quicker) option of big bales. It's about 6 acres (2.5 hectares) we had 60 bales off it. These photos show the new rake in action.

If we had made traditional small bales we would probably still be outside carting them, instead of enjoying a leisurely barbecue and a cool drink.
And - if you thought that Rob would never update his Blog again - check the link on the left!

Friday, 18 July 2008

First Results of the Season

Despite the Royal Lancashire Show being such as wash-out that it was almost all cancelled (only livestock classes were held on the first day, with no spectators and the other two days completely cancelled) we had a very good day.

MAIDEN HEIFER under 10months - 2nd- Strickley Annabella 140
MAIDEN HEIFER, 10-15 months - 1st - Strickley Athena 3
COW in calf - 2nd - Strickley Dainty Princess 3
HEIFER in milk - 1st - Strickley Goldie 175
COW in milk - 1st - Strickley Dairymaid 2

The Joseph Hutchinson Perpetual Trophy for the Best Dairy Shorthorn - Strickley Dairymaid 2
The Eaton Challenge Cup for the Reserve Champion Shorthorn - Strickley Goldie 175

Watch for for photographs as soon as it's possible

Only Half a Show

James rang us late last night, from a tent at the Lancashire Show (where he is bedding down with the cows) to say they had just been told that the show would be closed to the public today (Friday) because of heavy rain. They don't have much luck with the Lancashire Show, last year the whole lot was cancelled at a few days notice and in previous years have suffered with poor access. But watch this space for news.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

It's Show Time

We’re gearing ourselves up for another busy few days (not that any of them are idle).
This morning James got a lift down to the Shorthorn Society (Stoneleigh) for a Council meeting. He will get back (we hope) late afternoon/early evening on Thursday. He’ll then do a quick turn round and load 5 cows and heifers into the trailer and take them down to the Royal Lancashire Show. Meanwhile Henry will have been busy getting the cows and all the show gear ready. James and the cows will be spending a peaceful night in the cattle tent at the show ready for final preparation and judging on Friday. It’s our first time at the Royal Lancs for a long time (maybe 20 years). We nearly made it last year, but the show was cancelled at the last minute because of the waterlogged site.
When James comes back on Friday night he has one more busy day getting ready for the next outing – the Wellbank family are going on holiday. I’m not sure it will be the most restful few days as they’re going in our caravan.
So for next few days I will be removing all the junk we’ve accumulated in there (to make way for toys and games) and trying to make it look a bit cleaner and brighter, then demonstrating the modern conveniences that weren’t there the last time James was in a caravan.
Then it’s Show Time again – Penrith on 26th July.
And in between all of this we may mow some grass and grab a few big bales.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

New toy gets ready to work

Yesterday we cut a couple of steepish banks for big bales. The cows were supposed to have grazed them, but as there was plenty of grass lower down the field they never bothered to climb the hill. And now the grass "has got away from them", so as soon as we saw that there was a chance of two fine days together, James was whizzing through the grass with the mower.
It's also given us a chance to test the new "Helipede Rotary Windrower" (aka the rowing-up machine). The photographs show how it unfolds from the travelling to working position. (These were taken in the Teapot Field as I'm rather like the cows when it come to walking up hills).

Friday, 11 July 2008

Self Portrait

Not just a puzzle, but a computer generated self portrait - but who is it?

Click to Mix and Solve

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Closing Event

We've just wound up a busy week with a few games of tennis and 10-pin bowling, plus a few bouts of boxing in the barn. We ended up with both households having loads of food left, so we had a bit of a family party to use up as much of it as possible, then worked it off with a bit of sport. Who do you think was the Victor Ludorum? Just to prove age and experience count for nothing young Robert put us all in the shade - especially with the bowling (though he even knocked out his Great Uncle Arthur in the boxing ring).

Of course none of this was really real - but nearly real (courtesy of James' Wii)

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Coming to the end of a busy week

Almost there -

Organic meeting - went down very well with 15 farmers and vets
Business meeting - much discussion on grass seed mixtures
Pre-school trip - very much enjoyed by ten 4 year olds and two helpers. They all went away with individual photos sitting in a tractor
Computer Dept party - very good night. "Off road" tour of Strickley, then much food and drink outside in the cooling sun.
Pre-school party - postponed (very heavy rain forecast)
Teachers barbecue - still on - maybe in the barn

Have I missed anything out?

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Hectic Time Ahead

Well we're back from foreign parts (and the West Coast of Cumbria has some very foreign parts), and there's no time to wind down or ease back gradually into the hurly burly of farmlife. Here's a quick rundown of the timetable over the next few days -

Thursday 3rd July
09:00 - wagon of straw arriving (to be unloaded and stacked in the barn)
09:30 - meat to be collected from local farm shop
10:00 - check the weather forecast - expect the worst
10:00 - barn to be cleaned out and tables, chairs etc set out
11:00 - group of Organic Dairy Farmers arrive for Farm Walk and discussion with our vet
12:00 - check weather forecast - confirm the worst
12:05 - light barbecue in barn
12:30 - serve lunch to as yet unknown number of farmers
13:00 - meeting continues in barn

19:00 - prepare for monthly business/consultation meeting - have all facts and figures at my fingertips
19:15 - sit down to discuss how well/badly we are doing
21:30 - collapse in heap with a revitalising drink

Friday 4th July

Wake up feeling old - it's our youngest son's 30th birthday (Happy Birthday Rob)
09:00 - Old Hutton Pre-school arrive for a morning on a farm
On the hour - check forecast
All day - move barbecue, chairs and tables back onto patio. Prepare for Lakeland's Computer Room Annual Summer Party
19:30 - lounge around in the sun on the patio while idly sipping a cool refreshing drink and cooking and eating a wonderful array of food

Saturday 5th July

More forecast checking

Daytime - James and Michelle's Preschool barbecue
Evening - James and Michelle's school teachers barbecue

Sunday 6th July
Plan meals for the week ahead
Catch up on paperwork

Monday 7th July

Time to relax - back to work!

Saturday, 28 June 2008

I Should Have Known Better

As I said last week, Henry and James sneaked off to Dobsons, and the results of their shopping trip arrived yesterday. We are now the proud owners of a brand new -

Helipede Rotary Windrower!

Guess where

Before Henry goes back to work, we're going to have a few days away in the caravan. We could have gone to a posh hotel and been waited on hand and foot, but we couldn't decide where to go (and we would have to get up in time for breakfast), so we're heading off with our holiday home behind us.

But where are we going?

Award yourself 3 virtual points if you can guess from the first clue.

1 - the highest standing Roman wall is very near here

And 2 virtual points if you need another clue.

2 - it is on the estuary of three rivers.

And for only one point

3 - It is the only seaside town in the Lake District National Park

And for no points at all, it has a very small railway.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


Last night the "North West Regional Association of Shorthorn Breeders" (trips of the tongue, doesn't it?), held a stock judging event at Strickley. We try to visit two farms a year, one for stock judging and one for a Herd Visit. They're both a chance to show off your magnificent stock or to be nosey (depending on which side of the host/visitor fence you are). About 30 Shorthorn breeders aged from about 10 to 80+ got the chance to place two classes of Strickley Shorthorns (cows and heifers - six in each) in the right order. But what is the right order? Judging can be subjective but generally judges are looking for the same thing and to create a benchmark for an event like this, we invite a Master Judge. We were very grateful that Wendy Young from the Churchroyd Herd was able to come over to Strickley. She placed the cows in order, and assigned the number of points between each one. Traditionally the cows are numbered A, B, C, X, Y, Z - and the points difference overall must add up to 10. These results are then put on a key sheet, against which the competitors entries are judged. We had picked out 6 cows and 6 heifers and everyone had a good chance to look at them and place them in order. The cards were then collected in and while most farmers looked round the rest of the stock, our secretary Jenny collected together all the cards and worked out the winners and losers, while I went to put the kettle on and carry the supper out onto the kitchen table.

It can be difficult to judge your own stock, as it's possible to know too much about the animal and not judge purely on appearance on the day, but last night James got it right, and his assessment almost matched the judges, scoring a very high mark. Rightly or wrongly his entry was judged to be unfair, and he had to be content with being the Virtual Winner, while the real honours went to Shaun Dixon. James said that either Wendy got it right, or he knew what cows Wendy would like.

The next time the cows are lined up to be judged will be at the Royal Lancashire Show, and hopefully they will shine just as well.

Monday, 23 June 2008

I thought we had got away with it. .

Henry and James have just come back from "popping down to Dobsons". As there was just the two of them and no third generation I reckoned we were safe - no giving in to temptation to buy more Big Boys Toys. But no, they've "almost agreed" on a new Swathe Rake (for putting several mown rows into one before the forage harvester picks the grass up). Apparently we've had ours ages, it could go into a decline at anytime now and this new one is so much bigger and better. I reckon it's a done deal, and they're only pretending to consult me.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Make the most of today . .

. . as it's downhill all the way from here!

Well no, maybe not, but today there will be the most hours of sunshine till this time next year - over 15 hours. I hope wherever you are it is sunshine and not dull clouds or rain. Regular readers will know of course that because of Analemma it won't be the latest sunset until June 27th (so there's plenty more time to sit out in the evening sunshine).

Of course these times are GMT and for our Queensland readers it's the middle of winter!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

At Least Three Goods Reasons

Maybe you won't agree - but - AT LAST WE'VE HAD SOME PROPER RAIN!

I know you can't hang the washing out or sit out on a sunny patio, but -

1 - we can at last scrape the yard instead of just smearing the muck

2 - the dust and muck have been washed of the car and my kind husband has washed it (it's too high for me - that's my excuse)

3 - most importantly it's washed in the muck that we spread after silaging and the grass can start to grow again.

At the moment we've had 0.83 inches, so it may well be an inch by the end of the day - click on the Weather link on the left to see how dry it's been lately.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Fun and Games

I'm not sure if this will work (and you can see I've got too much time on my hands) - but click on this jigsaw link and see what happens. And if this one's too easy, watch this space!

Click to Mix and Solve

Monday, 9 June 2008

Another Quiet Week

It's been a week since the last post, and before that there was a rush of daily posts. It's not that nothings been happening at Strickley, but just the normal routine. Anyone who's passed by when the wind was in the wrong direction will know we've been applying copious amounts of "liquid manure" on the the silaged fields. Now, if only it would rain a bit to wash it in! (But preferably only at night).

If you want to see photographs of all the fields (not covered in muck!) then look at this link on the Strickley website. And many thanks to Jean for filling in the gaps for the missing images.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Fresh This Morning

The first Strickley Organic Milk has just left the farm.

Strickley Organic

At 00:01 today we became officially 100% Organic and able to sell organic milk. We're on a new collection schedule which may take a bit of getting used to. For many years the milk tanker has come at night, sometime between half past eight in the evening and three o'clock in the morning. We've got used to saying to visitors, "it's tanker night, please park out of the way" and always having milk "on tap" after morning milking. The organic run is back in daylight, and the tanker is due between eight thirty and nine in the morning, so it's fill up the milk jug or there won't be any more till tonight.
To mark this occasion we're having a small celebration out on the patio at dinner time (weather permitting). We've kept back a couple of bottles of fizzy pop to toast the future of Strickley

Saturday, 31 May 2008

First Cut In The Pit

Thursday afternoon - James starts to mow the Barn Field
Friday morning - small shower early morning - soon dries up and we "row up the grass"
Friday afternoon - contractor starts picking up at one o'clock
Mowing and rowing up all day

Saturday morning - "mowed out" by eight o'clock - contractor arrives to continue picking up at half past eight. Rowing up and carting grass all day.
Saturday 10pm - the last load of First Cut comes in and that's it for tonight. (There's still the levelling of and sheeting up to do of course - and then muck to spread to get the grass growing again)
And earlier this evening our last load of "conventional milk" was picked up. At midnight a sea change sweeps through the cows and and tomorrow the milk is Organic

The photos were taken in the Teapot Field and by the silage pit.

We're Almost There

Friday, 30 May 2008

Thursday, 29 May 2008

And We're Off!

James has just started to mow the Barn Field (having checked the weather forecast and seaweed)

Three - Two - One

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Ready To Go

The mower's on the back of the tractor.
The extra staff are on standby.
The fridge is full of food for packed meals.
All we are waiting for is for the contractor to finish at our neighbours (and the weather to hold) and we're ready to start silaging.