Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Detailed results

James and the cows got back from the Royal Highland Show about 11 'o clock Sunday night. The cows went straight out to join the herd, and the rest of the stuff (and there's a lot of stuff needed to keep 4 cows not just fed and watered, but also looking good, for 5 days - plus James) is gradually getting put away ready for the next show (Penrith).

So now the dust has settled, and I have a day off work, here are the details.

Goldie 162 2nd Cow in Milk
Annabella 117 1st Cow in Calf
Reserve Breed Champion
Starlet 91 1st Heifer in Milk
Reserve Junior Champion
Athena 3 1st Heifer in Calf
Junior Breed Champion
Annabell 117 & Athena 3
1st Pair

Monday, 29 June 2009

Record day

Did you spot it? I was stuck in an aggressively air-conditioned office all day, but yesterday was the hottest "since (our) records began". If you click here and scroll to the bottom of the page, you can see the details from our weather page. The record only counts for us through - as our weather station is not screened in any way, and the temperature is a record of the hot sun beating down on the Teapot Field.

Friday, 26 June 2009

First results

Just in from our man in Scotland.

Won 4 out of 5 classes.
Reserve Shorthorn Champion
Junior Shorthorn Champion
Reserve Junior Shorthorn Champion

More details - names etc - later


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Long trek north

This morning James set off for the Royal Highland Show with a trailerful of hopeful ladies.

So good luck to

Starlet 91
Annabella 117
Goldie 162
Athena 3
And to James too of course

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Dressed to impress

She might be only coming in for afternoon milking, but this cow has made a bit of an effort to dress up.

This was just as she came in from the field, having picked up a branch of Elderflower along the way.
The moral of the story?
Always carry a camera!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Please contact you MP

Earlier this week I emailed our MP (Tim Farron) about the problems faced by dairy farmers after the collapse of DFoB. Below is a copy of his reply - so please ask your MP (if you're not Westmorland and Lonsdale) to support him.

Dear Kathleen

Thank you very much for your recent email with regard to the plight of dairy farmers after the collapse of DFOB.

I strongly agree with your sentiments and the prospect of the need to import milk is nothing less than a scandal. I fear that the place of the Government’s agricultural policy in history will be seen to have been severely damaging by its neglect.

My views are summarised in the following Early Day Motion that I have put before the House and I am delighted to report that it has already been supported by 30 other MPs: -

Farron, Timothy
That this House is appalled by the collapse of Dairy Farmers of Britain which went into receivership owing £50 million to its 1,800 members; is deeply concerned that the impact on the UK dairy industry and on individual dairy farmers and their families will be devastating; deplores the banks' deliberate timing of the calling in of the loan to Dairy Farmers of Britain, causing the calling in of the receivers to maximise the benefit to secured creditors at the expense of those member farmers' May milk cheques; calls on the Government to underwrite the payments that Dairy Farmers of Britain were due to pay to dairy farmers for milk supplied in May or to force Dairy Farmers of Britain's bankers to pay the May milk cheques; also calls on the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Prime Minister to intervene to ensure that buyers do not exploit stricken dairy farmers by paying sub-market prices; and endorses the Farmers Guardian petition which urges the dairy industry's biggest customers to both buy British and to ensure that dairy farmers receive a fair return for their produce.
I think that this must be the EDM to which you were referring.
With best wishes

Yours sincerely


Wednesday, 10 June 2009

New Beginnings

At last we have cut the chains that bound us to Dairy Farmers of Britain and are moving forward with another buyer. Last night we went to a meeting with OMSCo. For the past couple of months there have been meetings between farmer committees from OMSCo and DFoB, with a view to forming an Organic Alliance. No news of this leaked out, and the deal was finally agreed and signed on Monday 1st June. If all had gone to plan it would have "gone live" on 1st July. But the events of 3pm on 3rd June, when the receivers took over DFoB pre-empted it. The date was moved forward to today (10th June) and last night we signed our resignation letters to DFoB (faxed to them after the meeting) and, after careful reading, the contract with OMSCo. So our next collection (tomorrow - we are on every other day and were picked up yesterday) will be collected by and paid for by OMSCo. The receivers are paying for the days between going into receivership and our resignation, but we don't know at what price. I expect it will be low. But not as low as the preceding 34 days (zero).

So it's onwards and upwards.
For better or worse.
Good times are round the corner.
A light at the end of the tunnel
For better or worse
For richer for poorer. . . .

Friday, 5 June 2009

Random Thoughts

What a difference a week makes -

A week ago -

  • our milk was sold to a Farmers Cooperative
  • the temperature was in the high 20's
  • the fields were full of lush green grass

And now -

  • our milk is sold to faceless Receivers
  • the temperature is 4 degrees (windchill 1 degree!)
  • the fields have gone from green to pale washed out cream to brown (and it smells like it!)

Thursday, 4 June 2009


After my hasty post yesterday, more details are available on the PWC website.

If you watch the Webcast and read the Farmer section (and letter) you'll see it's not good news. However, plans are unfolding for the Organic farmers and we should know more in the next few days.

As member of DFoB we had considerable investment with them; though it has become obvious over the past months that this was now worthless.

No money for May milk (and 3 days in June) but the bills need to be paid - and the cows milked.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Three long days

After the anxious wait when May never seemed to warm up, the hot dry weather hit us with a vengeance. There was no hanging about, and as soon as the contractor was on his last days' fields next door, James started mowing. He mowed till midnight on Friday and from five in the morning on Saturday. The contractor came on Sunday and we started picking up after morning milking. There were a couple of brief stops for tea and supper, and then on till nearly midnight. On Monday Henry was up at five to finish off the rowing up, while James milked, then it was picking up, carting and tipping all day. By five in the afternoon the fields were empty and the pit was full. There's still a lot to do today, but at a less frantic pace. We have to put the door in the pit, and put the last few loads on top. Then it's to be rolled and sealed in and weighted down.

I'm back at work today - having a break from making up boxes of food and bottles of squash.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Dear BBC. .

. . . I have an idea for a new TV Game Show - Celebrity Silage Making.

There would be teams of two - one a professional - not necessarily a professional farmer, but probably a professional driver. Maybe Jensen Button - no, he will be too expensive this year - better go with last years man Lewis Hamilton. He would drive the tractor and forage harvester.
The other team member would be a "celebrity" from another field (the usual ex Boy Band/soap star/failed politician - there'll be lots of those about soon!). They will drive the tractor and trailer and attempt to keep in line with the forage harvester, so the grass is blown into the trailer.
Points would be lost for grass that misses, and time penalties for not getting back from tipping the grass in the pit, if the forage harvester has to stand idle.
Heats would be held in flat fields, moving onto steep slopes in the finals.
And we would need some judges that are vaguely connected (but not necessarily qualified) to express an opinion - Bernard Matthews? Margaret Becket (has knowledge of Defra and towing a caravan)?
Of course the final decision would be down to a phone vote - but only from those with a genuine holding number.