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.