Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Back to reality

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A Birthday has come and gone.
Christmas has (almost) come and gone.
Children and grandchildren have been and gone
But -
The decorations are still up.
The fridges are still full of food and drink (and I thought I hadn't over-catered this year).
There's still some time to go till Twelfth Night.

But - a bigger but - I go back to work tomorrow.

And the snow is still here. It has melted a bit, and no more has fallen for a few days; but the yard still resembles an Ice Rink in places. And now the wind has risen and it's too cold to enjoy it.
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Saturday, 26 December 2009

Back to work!

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26th December. Boxing Day. Traditionally when everyone (except farmers) have a day off. Everyone but Ian our builder! And he says he's coming back tomorrow.
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Thursday, 24 December 2009

Building continues

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It's 3 o'clock on Christmas Eve and Ian our builder is still here working on the Silage Pit Roof. These photos show the rapid progress this week













































24th December

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No, he hasn't been a day early - this is Christmas morning 3 years ago. Will there be any presents tonight? Where will he leave them. Maybe we had better make sure there is one fire that's not left in overnight.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

False Readings

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Just in case you hadn't realised we've had quite a bit of snow at Strickley since Saturday night, so if you look at our Weather page and see references to rain it just means melted snow. Our system doesn't record snow, but take it from me, there's been a lot.
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23rd December

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Turkeys at Strickley, ready for the market, late 60's.
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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Fun in the snow

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An intrepid Elliot trudges back up the hill so he can zoom down again on his empty calf cake bag.
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22nd December

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And it's still snowing.
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Monday, 21 December 2009

Snow or no snow . . .

. . . our builder was here first thing this morning, and while I was being taxied to Asda in the Land Rover he erectecd the first stanchions for our new building (aka a roof over the silage pit). The roof sheets have now arrived and are being unloaded and stored till he needs them - probably later in the week. I think he's having Christmas Day off but I wouldn't be surprised to see him the next day.

21st December

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Another year older and deeper in debt.
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Sunday, 20 December 2009

20th December - last post

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We were just about to sit down to supper about quarter to eight when the tanker came into the yard.
Much relief all round.
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20th December - latest

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The weather may stop trains and boats and planes, but we hope it doesn't stop milk tankers. There's about 6 inches of snow on the ground now and Henry and James are trying to make sure that the tanker can get up the lane to pick up our milk tonight. They've cleared and gritted the lane, moved all other vehicles out of the yard and are now shovelling snow (which is not what was in the digger bucket yesterday - an altogether different hue . .). We phoned the haulier to tell them our access is clear (at the moment) and made sure they have our phone numbers. If necessary we can maybe push/pull the tanker up the lane. But the council haven't cleared the "main" road yet. As a B road it's not high on their list of priorities. It all looks very pretty, but until we see our milk in the tanker we can't relax. 4000 plus litres is a lot of milk.
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20th December - update

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Latest photo.
James and Michelle have gone shopping in the Land Rover (with some snow chains in the back just in case). Henry and I are clearing the decks for decorations (and keeping nicely warm and snug)
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20th December

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After all the old photographs, here's a brand new one - taken about 5 minutes ago.
It's not blurred and out of focus (well not much) - the streaky lines are fast falling flakes of snow. Taken from the relative comfort of the porch.
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But what if we get snowed in?

No turkey (we're picking up on Wednesday), but, plenty of meat, fish and vegetables in the freezer; flour for bread; store cupboard full of baking essentials, rice and pasta etc; potatoes and onions in the vegetable basket; butter and cheese in the fridge; wines, beers and spirits in the cupboard (and keeping cool outside); and of course milk down the yard. So I reckon we could survive for quite a while.

But it's almost stopped snowing now and what fell will probably just freeze. This morning Henry and James struggled to thaw everything out down the yard. At 6 am it was down to -9.2 (with a windchill factor of -11.4). If you're suffering in the heat of Queensland (Bill and Margaret) think of us over here! The yard's treacherous to walk on, though we have salted/gritted the most vital bits. I think I'll stay inside. Plenty to do (Rum Butter and main Christmas tree are top of the list).

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Holiday Begins

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I'm now home from work and officially on holiday. No more early mornings. No more late shifts. And even no more pager bleeping. (At least until 31st December).
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19th December

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A young Mrs Robinson nearly 40 years ago.
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Friday, 18 December 2009

18th December

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Today it's a beautiful sunny, but cold day; but in 2003(?) it was more like this.
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Thursday, 17 December 2009

17th December

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When I started posting a wintery/Chritsmassy photo a day I thought I had loads to choose from. Well I do, but there's a lot of similar ones - Christmas trees, snowy scenes etc. So today it's another link to an online video.

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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

16th December

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Having worked over the weekend I'm on my "midweek weekend substitute". It's a chance to get ahead (or catch up) on Christmas planning.

The cake's made (ready for Victoria and children to decorate next week).
Ingredients ready and waiting for me to make mincemeat and cranberry sauce.
Cards designed, printed, folded, signed, stuffed, stamped and ready to post.
All presents bought (I hope), ready to wrap.
Trees in 3 bedroom windows (the lights are missing for the fourth).
Real tree delivered and ready to be brought in and decorated (more work Elliot and Fletcher next week).
Turkey ordered (to be picked up on Wednesday).
Asda delivery of bulky items due next Tuesday.
Wine delivered and cooling outside.
And most importantly, I've copied all my Christmas music into one playlist so I can have Christmas wherever I go.

It's probably an age thing, but they don't make Christmas records like they used to. For me this will always be the best - click on the photo below to listen.



Tuesday, 15 December 2009

North West Herd Competition

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Last night was the annual dinner of the North West Shorthorn herd competition. A packed room of 50 farmers, friends and families enjoyed a good meal at The Greyhound in Shap. The highlight of the evening was the judge's (Owain Harries of Llanelli) summing up of his visit in September, and his positive comments on all the herds. The cups and certificates were then presented to the winning herds, and the evening rounded of with a well supported raffle.

NORTH WEST REGIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SHORTHORN BREEDERS

2009 HERD COMPETITION : JUDGE OWAIN HARRIES, LLANELLI

CLASS 1 BEST LARGE HERD

1st WINBROOK HERD G A & D W DENT
2nd STRICKLEY HERD W H & K M ROBINSON
3rd IREBY HERD A RITSON

CLASS 2 BEST SMALL HERD

1st MOORIGGS HERD S ARMSTRONG
2nd OAKTHWAITE HERD M DOBSON
3rd BRISCOLL HERD E COULTHARD

CLASS 3 BEST YOUNG STOCK (LARGE HERDS)

1st STRICKLEY HERD W H & K M ROBINSON
2nd IREBY HERD A RITSON
3rd WINBROOK HERD G A & D W DENT

CLASS 4 BEST YOUNG STOCK (SMALL HERDS)

1st SCREEL HERD S WILSON
2nd OAKTHWAITE HERD M DOBSON
3rd MOORIGGS HERD S ARMSTRONG

CLASS 5 IN CALF HEIFER

1st STRICKLEY STARLET 94th W H & K M ROBINSON
2nd BRISCOLL GRACEFUL LADY E COULTHARD
3rd MOORIGGS BESSIE BROWN EYES S ARMSTRONG

CLASS 6 HEIFER IN MILK

1st STRICKLEY ATHENA 3rd W H & K M ROBINSON
2nd STRICKLEY LADY SERENE 5th W H & K M ROBINSON
3rd MOORIGGS STARBUD S ARMSTRONG

CLASS 7 COW WHICH HAS CALVED TWICE

1st STRICKLEY STARLET 90th W H & K M ROBINSON
2nd WINBROOK DIGITALIS N & C BARKER
3rd WINBROOK PEERESS ROSE G A & D W DENT


CLASS 8 PROGENY OF ONE BULL

1st WINBROOK KING HENRY G A & D W DENT
2nd WINBROOK DIAMOND W H & K M ROBINSON
3rd COTLEY CUSTODIAN A RITSON

CLASS 9 BEST BULL ON INSPECTION

1st WINBROOK MARMADUKE G A & D W DENT
2nd MOORIGGS COSMIC S ARMSTRONG
3rd NEJAY AMAZON W H & K M ROBINSON

CLASS 10 BEST COW ON INSPECTION

1st WINBROOK PEERESS ROSE G A & D W DENT
2nd WINBROOK VI 86th G A & D W DENT
3rd PENYCOED CLARA UNITED J TEASDALE

CLASS 11 BEST BULL ON PRODUCTION & INSPECTION

1st WINBROOK MARMADUKE G A & D W DENT
2nd NEJAY AMAZON W H & K M ROBINSON
3rd BRECKNEY GREGORY S WILSON

CLASS 12 BEST COW ON PRODUCTION & INSPECTION

1st COTLEY GRACEFUL LADY E COULTHARD
2nd STRICKLEY ANNABELLA 117th W H & K M ROBINSON
3rd COTLEY ANNE 46th A RITSON

15th December

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Christmas dinner 2003.
Before and after.




















Monday, 14 December 2009

14th December

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A special visitor to New Hutton's Children's Party
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Sunday, 13 December 2009

A hectic social life

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Tonight will be a quiet night in. For the past few days Henry and I have either passed each other in doorways as one went out and the other went in, or sat round a table with friends.

Wednesday- I had a meal out with friends from work (not a Christmas meal, but welcoming the latest member to our Team - the Christmas meal will be in January when we won't be pushed into having "The Festive Menu").
Thursday - Henry was at a board meeting at Westmorland County Agricultural Society (followed by mince pies and drinks I believe)
Friday - we went for a meal out with four friends - a chance to catch up on months of news and gossip.
Saturday - a meal at a local pub with the local shoot. Another chance to catch up with everyone, but it was a reminder why The Festive Menu is not always a good option. And try not to sit at a table near the men's toilets - there'll be streams of men pushing past all night.
Tonight? Maybe scrambled eggs at home!
Tomorrow - The North West Shorthorn Society's annual dinner and Herd Competition prize giving. We'll have a good meal (we confidently hope) then the judge will give his comments and reasons before the silverware and certificates are handed out. I've been given a sneak preview of the results so I can print the certificates - but my lips are sealed! Watch this space on Tuesday.

And in among all of this I'm at work.

13th December

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Today it's an action shot of Rob.
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Saturday, 12 December 2009

12th December

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An action shot of James snowboarding at Strickley in 2004.
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Friday, 11 December 2009

11th December

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Maisie in the snow
Click to shuffle the jigsaw
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Click to Mix and Solve

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Update to post of 08/12/09

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This is a link to the sale report (including a photo of Henry and calf!)

Sorry - it's rather large
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10th December

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The pond in winter (2000 I think) - taken by Victoria.
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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

9th December


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William Arthur Robinson

1920 - 1996

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Show Results in December?

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Today was the Christmas Sale at Kendal Auction, and in the interests of making room for all the stock inside this winter we took 6 bull calves. There was a show before the sale and were pleased to come away with a couple of winners -

1st Dairy Bred calf
1st Continental calf
Champion Calf
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Looking on the website details of the sale, it seems there is some prize money to go with the rosettes. Maybe it's in the post.

8th December

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No photograph of Christmas Past today - but a link to Christmas Present and Christmas Future..

Ian (our builder) started work today on the footings for our next big project - at it's simplest a roof over the silage pit, but at also a way of saving and harvesting rainwater.

You can see copies of the plans here.

Monday, 7 December 2009

7th December

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Snow at Over Bleaze December 1977
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Sunday, 6 December 2009

6th December

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Something different in today's Advent window.

Click here for a long forgotten Christmas song (with maybe a subtle hint to Father Christmas about my Christmas List)

edited - to read "obscure lateral thinking hint"

Saturday, 5 December 2009

5th December

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A bad photo (taken on my way into work this week) of a very impressive tree at Lakeland
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Friday, 4 December 2009

4th December

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Dungeon Ghyll 1970
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Thursday, 3 December 2009

3rd December

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Christmas 1972 - at Over Bleaze.
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By now you've probably realised I'm trying to post a vaguely suitable/relevant photograph every day till Christmas.
The Strickley Blog Advent Calender.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

It's got to go somewhere

2nd December.
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It's not always picture-postcard winter scenes.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The countdown begins

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Ist December

The end of the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness"


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

We're back!

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After Windows failed to load this morning I've been brooding on the complications if I couldn't get the PC back to full health. I'm meticulous in backing up (one of the effects of working in a commercial IT department), but I knew it could be a long and tortuous process to restore all the programmes and data. In the end I needn't have worried. It was my backing up that caused the problem. I called on a young IT expert (nephew-in-law to be Leon) who came round armed with disks and advice. We watched the PC sit in sulky silence with only an occasional flicker of drive activity. I then mentioned my external backup disk. Was it switched on when I did the updates/restart? May have been. So I switched it on, and away it went! Sighs of relief all round; especially when I started up the weather programme.

So thank you Leon. I feel I've been dragged back from the edge of an abyss.

DISASTER!

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This morning I checked the office computer as normal (to see that the weather was updating the website etc) - all OK. I noticed there were Windows updates waiting to run - let them run (3 downloaded and installed) and clicked the "restart now" option. The computer shut down and seemed to start to load - it found the drives and started to load Windows - then nothing else! I've tried a few things but so far it's not working.

So, sorry - no updated weather statistics until further notice.

I'll be taking advice at work today on the best way forward, and hoping that someone has a magic bullet or wand to restore the status quo.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Virtual Show Results

At the end of the show season The Shorthorn Society holds a photographic competition. Not only does the stock have to be top class, but has to be photographed in such a way that there is no doubt of it's show winning qualities. We start each year with the best of intentions to take proper photos at shows (or even at home) - not just interesting snaps. But best intentions don't always come to fruition. Of course the entries can also be taken by professional photographers. So this year when James was at The Dairy Event he took advantage of the available photographer to get a decent photo of Athena 3rd - see the result on the post of 24th October. It was a good photo of a good heifer and the judges liked her - she was first in her class (heifer in milk to first calving) and Reserve Champion. The Champion was Marleycote Peggy 10th (a cow born in 2005 now in Mr & Mrs I L Harries' herd). We also entered some home made photos of Strickley Goldie 192nd (2nd in class) and Strickley Starlet 90th (3rd in class).

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Water, water everywhere


It may feel as though it's never stopped raining this month, and statistics from our Weather station bear it out. This is a graph of monthly rainfall so far this year. I think we've forgotten already how dry October was.
If you open up the Weather page, and scroll to the bottom of the page, you can click on "Daily update of averages/extremes to date for the month" for the latest information.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Farming - every day is different . . .

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or so it seemed last week - every day was busy with something different.

Sunday afternoon - we started the Winter Clip of all the adult stock. While James helped, the real work was done by Wendy and Rachel (Clippaholics)

Monday - clipping all day

Tuesday morning - checking and amending the latest RPA "Remote sensor" maps.
Tuesday afternoon - initial meeting with a "Fepper" - ie an expert that will help us complete a FEP (Farm Environmental Plan); a necessary step along the way to applying for HLS.

Wednesday - warm and sunny all day, so rebuilt a wall on The Lots (allegedly knocked down by a neighbours cows)

Thursday - rain. Repairing/replacing/improving spouting round the parlour

Friday - classification. The last time was 14/10/2008, and this time we were equally pleased.
There are 3 new EX, and 2 more were classified as EX again.
Overall there are now 6 EX's, 31 VG's and 31 GP's.
Special mention must be made of -

heifers -
Strickley Athena 3 - VG87
Strickley Starlet 91 - VG86
Strickley Hermione 12 - VG85
cows -
Strickley Pansy - EX92
Strickley Fillpail - EX92
Strickley Starlet 51 - EX92
Wreay Dainty Princess - EX90
Strickley Dainty Princess 3 - EX90

If you click on the cow name, it should take you to the Dairy Shorthorn database details. At the time of writing the latest results have not been uploaded. If you want to look up any other Strickley cow, just use the wild card % to fill in the blanks.

Friday, 6 November 2009

A load of rubbish

Maybe it's because it's November, but the weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse. At the beginning of the week it was very heavy rain and for the past two days we've woken up to frost. Not quite below zero, but cold enough to know it's winter.

Now that the cows are inside, it's time to get organised for the rest of the stock. All the young stock (apart from young calves) and dry cows are still out and room has to be made for them. We've been clearing out the barn and putting up pens and moving groups of calves around.

Over the summer we tend to dump stuff in the barn that we haven't quite got round to throwing away. Perhaps it will still come in useful? But what use is an old mattress? Discarded in the barn when we got a new state of the art one in September. So thick that by the time it's on our high wooden bed frame I almost need a step ladder to get into bed. The old one has been bounced on by Robert and Chris but it was time to take it to the tip. Henry loaded it into the back of the Land Rover, along with some newspapers and magazines and set off into town. Twenty minutes later he was back - still with a fully loaded Land Rover. Unless you have a Permit - applied for at least the day before - you can only take rubbish into the tip in a car. And "car" does not include Land Rover of any body shape. (Ours is a twin cab - with children's seats on the back seat). So he drove home, got the Discovery, put the seats down, moved the mattress and paper into the back and went back down to the tip. How un-green is that? Apparently, you're not allowed to walk in on foot carrying rubbish. Even if you live next door. I have heard of another authority's tip which is near some allotments. And no, you can't take in your garden waste in a wheelbarrow.

The one good thing that came out of all this - I found a hat I lost last winter. My old very-lived-in rain hat was squashed under the back seats and revealed when we made space in the back. All well and good, but having given up looking for it, I bought a new one two weeks ago.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The end of summer

This year the cows have been going out during the day, much later in the year than in the past few years. The milk yields have been holding (even rising), but yesterday the time came for them to stay inside. It's not just the grass, or even the weather, but the mess that nearly 100 cows can make walking through gates. I had hoped we could say "the cows were still out in November", but looking at the rain today, it's perhaps as well they're warm and dry.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

End of season picture


This is a photo of Strickley Athena 3 (taken by a professional photographer at the Dairy Event in September). After a successful show season she deserves the recognition.


Friday, 23 October 2009

Old Lane to New Lane

Early in 2003 we started work on widening the "Old Lane" - the track from the yard down to the fields that runs behind the old barn. Over 6 years later we're still improving it. It's now technically a new lane (though still known as the Old Lane) and runs behind Wellbank. These photos show the progress from 2003 (the first 10 photos) and the rather magnificent wall and steps built this past week. A very green construction - no cement and all the stones came out of ploughing (see the post of 19th April).































Monday, 12 October 2009

Congratulations!


Well done to Elliot for success in his badminton tournament yesterday

Friday, 9 October 2009

This may or may not work . .

If I have done this correctly, I have embedded the code for Chris Rea's new single from the BBC website (all perfectly legal!).



Sunday, 27 September 2009

The summer wasn't so bad after all

On Friday we got the last of this year's silage - 42 big bales. As far as I know the mower will now be washed off and put away (unless someone here at Strickley knows differently. . . )

It hasn't been exactly the summer we were expecting, after the early forecasts, but for us it's worked out OK. All our silage cuts have been got in with no rain on them. Of course that's down to careful planning (and anxious investigation of seaweed).

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Update

Where are we up to?

Just over a week ago I set out what we hoped to do over the next week. Has it happened?

Thursday - Westmorland Show - a resounding success
Thursday evening - oats in the pit
Friday morning - silage grass mown
Friday afternoon - herd judged for regional competition
Saturday - James judged at North Midlands Calf Show
Saturday - Henry rowed up all day
Sunday - silage grass all in the 2nd pit
Monday - bed finally arrives!
Monday - James leaves for Dairy event with Pansy, Athena and a calf we're giving as a raffle prize.
Tuesday - straw arrives and is unloaded onto top of silage
Wednesday - judging day at The Dairy Event. We were very pleased to come second in the heifer class (Athena 3), in strong class behind the heifer that won at the Royal Show.
Thursday - I'm back at work, and it's as if I've never been away (no magic elf to do my work while I'm off)
Thursday night - James due back.

Hopefully there's now time to draw breath!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

From our man at Stoneleigh

James took Pansy and Athena 3 to the Dairy Event yesterday - and thanks to the wonders of modern technology we can see how well they've settled in
The judging starts tomorrow - so watch this space