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


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

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The pits are full

Another 25 acres of grass in the second pit and the contractor's gone on to his next farm.
We were done in time for milking (even time for Henry to sit down for 5 minutes). So all that's to do tomorrow is to tidy, roll and sheet the pit. Then get ready for the Dairy Event. James has to be their by 9pm tomorrow
Did I say all?

Friday, 11 September 2009

Faster and even faster

Yesterday while we were at the show Henry dropped by Coars stand (supplier and fitter for all things to do with the dairy and parlour) about 14:00 and ordered a small plastic part for one of the units. In the post at 9:00 this morning, a padded envelope with the part.

Service that can't be beaten I thought.

But also at the show I was very taken with my sister-in-law's camera case. I've never quite found the perfect case. One that is held securely to my person. That protects the camera. Is easy to open. Is light and doesn't weigh heavily round my neck. And with a long enough strap not to strangle me. This one met all these criteria, and more (made from recycled PET bottles). If life hadn't so hectic just now I might have popped into town to buy one soon, but with a click of the mouse I ordered one from Jessops at 17:20 last night. And here it is via DHL at 15:00!

Some is safely gathered in

Last night the Big Machines moved in and whizzed round our two fields of oats in about 2 hours - so quick that I never got to see the action. But for those who missed it, James took a quick video on his phone (so not the best of quality). It's rather an abrupt end as he suddenly moved out of the way.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

So far, so good . . .

At last a hot and sunny day (up to 31 degrees according to our weather station). James and the cows spent the night in the new enormous cattle tent at Westmorland Show. I don't think it was a particularly restful night, but by the time Henry and I arrived at 8.30 this morning they were all looking their best and ready to do us proud. The showground has been rearranged this year, with more space for the cows (and us) than we've ever had, and by moving the cattle classes to the main ring, the public have a chance to see what an agricultural show is really about. The stewards were determined to keep to the timetable and kept the classes moving with no gaps in between. The judge Gwndaf James from Ceredigion had some strong classes to judge and seemed to like the Strickley stock. Once again the sideboard has filled up with silverware.

Strickley Starlet 90th
Champion Shorthorn

Strickley Athena 3rd
Reserve Champion
Full results for the Strickley Herd
Maiden Heifer under 18mths
1st Strickley Goldie 196th
Heifer in Calf
1st Strickley Starlet 94th
Cow in Calf
2nd Strickley Annabella 117th
Heifer in Milk
1st Strickley Athena 3rd
4th Strickley Goldie 181st
Cow in Milk
1st Strickley Starlet 90th
4th Strickley Pansy
Best Group of Three
The John Handley Memorial Trophy
3 Strickley heifer/cows
The Aspden Perpetual Challenge Cup
Strickley Starlet 90th
Best Exhibitor Bred
& Best Udder
Strickley Starlet 90th
But now it's back to Strickley and the next bit of of our packed schedule. The cows are unloaded and being milked. Some of the show stuff has been unloaded and the trailers are temporarily abandoned in the yard, because at 5pm as promised the contractor came to cut the oats. He hopes to get 12 acres before dark - one of the fields is along the main road so it's better done in daylight. Tomorrow we start mowing for clamp silage and fit in the Herd Competition. One day at a time, bit it's going to plan so far.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Plans thwarted; plans made

What should have happened:

Monday - new bed to be delivered. We had put the old one in the barn and tidied up (extensively).
Late Monday - phone to say bed delayed by a week. Good job we've got some spare bedrooms.

Monday - new posh bedding to be delivered. Arrived Tuesday - instead of a mix of luscious rich colours, it's a horrible sludgy brown. To be returned. New order placed (and this time I really studied the close-up photos).

Tuesday - eye test. Cancelled by optician on Monday.

What's happening now:

Getting ready for Westmorland Show. Seven Strickley Shorthorns in prime condition are ready to go to the showground tonight with James, and a load of feed, bedding and all the show paraphernalia. Cakes made, ready to ice. Eggs boiling (egg & cress sandwiches are popular with children and farmers). Fridge stocked with pies and cold meat ready for the sandwich production line.

What should then happen:

Thursday - early start for the show. Watch this space for a report!
After the show, a contractor,s coming to get the oats - at the last the weather looks favourable.

Friday morning - mowing grass for clamp and big bale silage
Friday afternoon - judge's visit for the North West Shorthorn Herd Competition.

Saturday - James judging at North Midlands Calf Show.
Henry rowing up the grass.

Sunday - contractor arrives to pick up grass

Monday - James takes 4 aspiring stars to The Dairy Event.

What can go wrong?

Friday, 4 September 2009

Triumph over the weather

Having suffered with the rain and waterlogged field last year, Grayrigg Show relocated for this year to Kendal Auction. I missed the show (some days are more difficult than others to have off work), but I understand it worked well. All the classes were fitted in except the children's race (we'll never know if Robert and Chris would have triumphed) and everyone kept dry. I usually pack up loads of food when we go to shows; but not for Grayrigg. There's a catering tent serving a sit-down meal and the whole show stops for an hour at 12. So it was an easy day for me!

At this point I must point out that Grayrigg (officially "Selside, Grayrigg & Mountain District of Westmorland Agricultural Society Annual Show") is a thriving small show with a big heart and an impressive list of trophies. There may be fewer cattle exhibitors than in the past (no separate breed classes), but the sheep section is very well supported. We packed up the Grayrig cups from the sideboard and we seem to have most of them back again. If I have understood James' notes in the catalogue, these are our results.

Heifer calf under 12 months
1st Strickley Goldie 196
Heifer in milk
1st Strickley Starlet 91
Dry Cow
1st Strickley Annabella 117
Dairy Cow in milk
Strickley Pansy
Best group comprising newly calved cow or heifer, in-calf cow or heifer and yearling heifer.
Semex UK Challenge Cup
W S Hodgson Silver Rose Bowl
D W Dennis-Thompson Silver Challenge Cup