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