Thursday, 30 December 2010

The local wildlife

Our new camera is in place - capturing any movement in the yard. Maybe we haven't it set up quite right as this is the only wildlife filmed so far.

And a word of advice - if the instructions on the camera say "supports SD card up to 4gb" - it won't work with an 8gb card.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Sunday, 26 December 2010

It's Christmas Time. .

. . . and Technology time.
Now that all the troughs and pipes are thawed out (at least until tonight), and the pantry sink outlet has been thawed so I could wash up, we've had time to take stock of all the "gadgets" that have made their way to Strickley over the past few days. The past week has been a bit of a blur and the house is full of cards and flowers (not to mention bottles and chocolates) acquired through Birthday, Retirement or Christmas. But we've also between us got an eclectic selection of technological necessities.

1 - from my friends at Lakeland an ice cube maker - to go with the selection of gins in our cupboard and to chinkle in the "do not touch, they are only for gin" glasses. It's now plugged and in 15 minutes should produce it's first offering.

2 - Henry's new phone - if he falls through the ice on the pond, at least the phone will float and not suffer from immersion. It's Tough and built to withstand knocks, so it should survive life on the farm. As long as it's not lost.

3 - a new alarm clock that shows the temperature inside and out (sensor outside), so we know whether or not it's warm enough to get up in the morning.

4 - a new camera that Henry bought for my birthday (though I reckon he really wanted one himself). It's to be fixed to a tree near the beck crossing frequented by our kingfisher (that everyone has seen except me), and will be activated by it's infra red motion sensor. It is set to take either videos or still photos (to an SD card) so watch this space. We've been testing it and didn't realise it was working till we looked at the results - see the wildlife in our kitchen. It's now fastened to the porch and will probably have captured a video of Henry getting some wood in. Hopefully the final test will be tonight when It films the rabbits in the yard.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Mixed Emotions

The countdown has ended and later this afternoon I'll be walking out of Lakeland for the last time. It's a day of mixed emotions as though I relish the idea of "retirement" and freedom from the rota, I know I will miss going out to work. How will I keep up to date with the latest technology, hear about random television programmes only watched by 20/30 somethings?

And most of all I will miss the motley crew below - so thank you to Jane, John, Shaun, Nick, Paul, Wayne, Martin, Karen and Mike for making the Lakeland Computer Room the insane but wonderful department it is. Long may it continue.

Read all about it

Click on this link
(page 7)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Fire and water

Last night after milking our electrician came and installed two heaters in the parlour. They will hopefully stop the pipelines freezing and I can reclaim the portable heaters from the house that had made their way down the yard. Every year when we have winter visitors we try to put a heater in every bedroom and at strategic points round the house (the rest of the year the two of us cope in a northern hardy way), and every year we seem to have to buy a least one new heater. Where do they go in summer?

And finally, for those of you itching to know if our new self-sufficient water supply is fit to drink - the answer is "yes" - we have had the results from the samples we sent in last month.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

An night to remember

Last night the Lakeland department that is like no other (but as one of us says "unique is good") met up at Strickley for a retirement/Christmas/Winter Solstice/birthday party. Much food and drink was consumed (but there's a bit left for dinner today) and no other entertainment was necessary to ensure we all had a good time. We even had a visit from Father Christmas with a sack full of presents.

The evening started off in true Comp. Ops. style with someone having to dial into work to follow up a problem. And ended in what could have been spectacular fashion when the earth moved - except we never felt it. No damage was done here, but over at Wellbank two baubles fell off the tree and down the yard the cows mooed a bit.

Today it's washing up and then back to work! In the words of a well known saying - "It's not over till the fat lady sings" - so get your earplugs ready for Friday!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Only a couple of things left to do

1. Fit 17 chairs round the tables. Our kitchen table can seat 14 (if you're friendly or some of you are small children), but I planned to extend it into an L shape with a fold up table (bought from a well know kitchenware shop). I drew a plan and counted out 17 virtual chairs. We've just brought the table in from the shower (aka the storage cupboard in the back kitchen) and it seems to have shrunk. Or else my mind was playing tricks. We're going to have to be VERY friendly, especially as there are no small children invited tonight.

And 2 - get glammed up. I've tried to urge the guests to "dress to impress" so we are making an effort.

Off now to juggle a few chairs.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Getting Ready

While I'm baking for tomorrow night, Henry has also been busy. Having fixed the latch on the bathroom door (it needed a definite knack to open in) and he's now hoovering the kitchen walls.

Roving Reporter

Want to know how farmers are coping with the weather?

Listen to Radio Cumbria ("listen again" available later today - click here). James seems to be on the station's phone list when they want to call a farmer. If you don't want to listen to the whole programme, whizz though to about 08:15

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Party planning

It will soon be Party Time at Wellbank and at Strickley. James and Michelle are ahead of us with lights, trees, lights, decorations and more lights. Their party season kicks off tonight and James had been over here quite a few times with "do you have?" and "can we borrow". As we have a house big enough for the most dedicated hoarder we usually have whatever it is tucked away - from extra wine glasses to an extra settee.

One of the downsides of having a big house is that some rooms are only used on high days and holidays, and can become a bit of a dumping ground - and in the case of the sitting room, a very cold dumping ground. We've moved the clutter and lit the fire in the hope that it will warm up by Tuesday night - which is when we have A Bit Of A Do. On Christmas Eve I will be walking out of Lakeland for the last time and my biggest regret will be leaving behind the eclectic bunch of friends in the Computer Room. ("Room" is really as misnomer - when I started 18 years ago it was one tiny room, dominated by two enormous printers, one server and two of us. It's now a "Computer Operations Suite" with a whole room full of servers, managed and supported by nine dedicated professionals). So, instead of going out for a Christmas meal they're all coming here with their wives and partners for an evening of food, drink and nostalgia.

I'm off work for a couple of days and I have a PLAN. The Sitting Room is done, the Hall is nearly done and the shopping is done. We've brought the tree inside and managed to find enough working lights for it to twinkle and shine. We've strung a few more lights around the kitchen and I've taken a break from hanging baubles to write this blog.

Tomorrow the real preparation begins - turn the Aga up and start cooking

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Who needs a ladder. . . .

. . . . when you've got a tele-handler

Because it doesn't show on the weather page . . .

. . .
Just stuck my head outside and the yard is all white with snow. No footprints, so it must have come down since Henry went out at 5:45 to milk.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Final Straight

Only 7 days to go!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Calling Forensics

Last night as we drove out the lane we noticed the gate stoup at the bottom - broken off and leaning at a jaunty angle.

Clearly visible are the tracks made the vehicle that failed to negotiate the entrance. Who could have done it? Did we have any deliveries about then?

And if we need any evidence of the colour of the vehicle, we have some samples that were obligingly left behind. Now who delivers in a large blue wagon?

A reminder - - -

- - to Father Christmas.

Does he read this Blog?
Has he remembered to dust down his special costume for a starring role this afternoon.

And remember - not too scary!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Progress all round

In the excitement of getting the computer back on it's feet, I forgot to say that our shower finally thawed out yesterday and so far nothing else has frozen.

Henry has just put 4 trees in the front bedroom windows and spent a couple of hours sorting out sets of working lights. I'm sure they were all OK last January. The real tree for the hall has just arrived and will stay out in the cold till next weekend. So maybe we will be organised in time for Christmas. My countdown stops the day before and I haven't really applied myself this year. The turkey and pudding are sorted, and Victoria has made and decorated a cake. With all the drink in the pantry (and the overflow in the Back Kitchen) what more do we need?

Thank you Leon!

After 4 days of lying dormant our office computer is back up and running. Many many thanks to Leon who brought it back from the brink of death.

It's not a very new or fast computer, but it only has to do two jobs - run the program (ImpelPro) that we use for Herd Management (including milk recording), and run Weather Display (which connects to our weather station and uploads the data to the website). The herd data is backed up regularly to an external disk, but the thought of reconfiguring the weather stuff filled me with dread.

And as luck would have it, when the computer was not responding to my entreaties, we had the coldest weather that we can remember - but have no record of it.

So please keep your fingers crossed that me and the computer keep ticking along together for a long time to come.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Almost there

Only 14 days to go!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

More results

For those who like to know everything - this is the full list of results from the recent Herd Competition. As you see, there was a strong entry in all the classes.

And I apologise in advance for the layout - it is copied and pasted from a word document and seems to be doing it's own thing in the way of formatting

Class 1 Best Large Herd

1st G A & D W Dent– Winbrook
2nd W H & K M Robinson – Strickley
3rd A H Ritson – Ireby
4th Maurice Robinson - Kirkbryde
5th J Teasdale – Brafell
6th C Hall – Whitchester

Class 2 Best Small Herd

1st S Armstrong – Moorriggs
2nd M Dobson – Oakthwaite
3rd I Coulthard – Briscoll
4th S Wilson – Screel
5th E Wood – Waters
6th T Moscrop – Irthingelt

Class 3 Youngstock (Large Herds)

1st C Hall – Whitchester
2nd W H & K M Robinson – Strickley
3rd G A & D W Dent – Winbrook
4th J Teasdale – Brafell
5th A H Ritson – Ireby
6th Maurice Robinson - Kirkbryde

Class 4 Youngstock (Small Herds)

1st S Armstrong – Moorriggs
2nd S Wilson – Screel
3rd I Coulthard – Briscoll
4th N & C Barker – Middlebankend
5th E Wood – Waters
6th D Jackson – Tahuna
7th M Dobson – Oakthwaite

Class 5 Best Heifer In Calf

1st Strickley Starlet 103 – W H & K M Robinson
2nd Nejay JD Anne – I Coulthard
3rd Ireby Lady Laura – A H Ritson
4th Moorriggs Lady Barrington – S Armstrong
5th Winbrook Wildeyes 41 – G A & D W Dent
6th Brafel Ruby – J Teasdale
7th Oakthwaite Lorn Lady 177 – M Dobson
8th Winbrook Peeress Rose 80 – G A & D W Dent t
9th 400254 - Maurice Robinson
10th Tahuna Ringlet – D Jackson
11th 100223 – Maurice Robinson
12th Oakthwaite Barrington 312 – M Dobson

Class 6 Best Heifer In Milk

1st Briscol Tiger Lily 4 – I Coulthard
2nd Strickley Annabella 140 – W H & K M Robinson
3rd Gibbs Hill Rosebud – D Jackson
4th Briscol Graceful Lady 4 – I Coulthard
5th Brafell Bells 2 – J Teasdale
6th Winbrook Jill 143 – G A & D W Dent
7th Ireby Pansy – A H Ritson
8th Winbrook Cactus- G A & D W Dent
9th Kirkbryde Joy 3 – Maurice Robinson
10th Moorriggs Bessie Browneyes – S Armstrong
11th Waters Fairy Princess – T Moscrop
12th Middlebankend Ruby – N & C Barker

Class 7 Best Cow To Have Calved Twice Not Eligible For Class 10

1st Winbrook Digitalis – N & C Barker
2nd Winbrook Vi 114 – G A & D W Dent t
3rd Winbrook Jill 14 – G A & D W Dent
4th Strickley Starlet 90 – W H & K M Robinson
5th Whitchester Vinnie Nigger – C Hall
6th Ireby Lady Laura 3 – T Moscrop
7th Strickley Athena 3 – W H & K M Robinson
8th Winbrook Foggathorpe Lass - G A & D W Dent t
9th Ireby Claribel – A H Ritson
10th Kirkbryde Pansy 4th – Maurice Robinson
11th Strickley Starlet 93 – I Coulthard
12th Moorriggs Bessie Browneyes – S Armstrong
13th Briscol Sunlight – I Coulthard
14th Ireby Lady Laura 4 – A H Ritson

Class 8 Best Progeny Of One Bull

1st Marleycote Luckys Man – C Hall
2nd Winbrook King Albert – G A & D W Dent
3rd Nejay Prince – W H & K M Robinson
4th Winbrook Diamond – W H & K M Robinson
5th Cotley Custodian –A H Ritson
6th Drisgol Watzon – G A & D W Dent
7th Winbrook Vinnie – C Hall
8th Whitefalls Crusader – Maurice Robinson
9th Moorriggs Cosmic- S Armstrong
10th Oakthwaite Arthur – M Dobson

Class 9 Best Bull Production And Inspection

1st Breckney Gregory – S Wilson – 150points
2nd Nejay Amazon – W H & K M Robinson – 140 Points
3rd Marleycote Luckys Man – C Hall – 135 Points
4th Mooriggs Cosmic – S Armstrong – 120 Points
5th Winbrook Marmaduke – G A & D W Dent – 115 Points
6th Strickley Perfect 10 – W H & K M Robinson – 110 Points
7th Ireby Panama – J Teasdale- 100 Points
8th Brafell Lord Harry – J Teasdale – 90 Points

Class 10 Best Cow On Production And Inspection

Weather Update

Not quite as cold - minus 5 when I left home (re the car) and up to zero (!) by I got to Windermere.

Computer update - still dead - so no updated weather page


Wednesday, 8 December 2010

It's cold - but you will have to take my word for it

Our computer is still dead, so the weather site is not updating. But, here's a quick resume - it got up to plus 1 yesterday (re the thermometer down the yard) and down to minus 13 last night (re the car as we were coming back from Shap).

Last night was the annual dinner of the North West Shorthorn Society. A bit of snow and ice doesn't stop farmers working, and it doesn't stop them going out and having a good get together. Wendy Young judged the Herd Competition earlier this year, and was there to present the prizes.


Judge Wendy Young


1st G A & D W Dent - Winbrook Herd
2nd W H & K M Robinson - Strickley Herd
3rd A H Ritson - Ireby Herd


1st S Armstrong - Moorriggs Herd
2nd M J Dobson - Oakthwaite Herd
3rd E Coutlhard - Briscoll Herd


1st C Hall - Whitchester
2nd W H & K M Robinson - Strickley
3rd G A & D W Dent - Winbrook


1st S Armstrong - Moorriggs
2nd S Wilson - Screel
3rd E Coulthard - Briscoll


1st Strickley Starlet 103rd - W H & K M Robinson
2nd Nejay JD Anne - E Coulthard
3rd Ireby Lady Laura - A H Ritson


1st Briscoll Tiger Lily 4th - E Coulthard
2nd Strickley Annabella 140th - W H & K M Robinson
3rd Gibbs Hill Rosebud - D Jackson

CLASS 7 - BEST COW TO HAVE CALVED TWICE (not eligible for Class 10)

1st Winbrook Digitalis 2nd - N & C Barker
2nd Winbrook Vi 114th - G A & D W Dent
3rd Winbrook Jill 14th - G A & D W Dent


1st Marleycote Luckys Man - C Hall
2nd Winbrook King Albert - G A & D W Dent
3rd Nejay Prince - W H & K M Robinson


1st Nejay Amazon - W H & K M Robinson
2nd Winbrook Marmaduke - G A & D W Dent
3rd Breckney Gregory - S Wilson


1st Breckney Gregory - S Wilson
2nd Nejay Amazon - W H & K M Robinson
3rd Marleycote Luckys Man - C Hall


1st Cotley Graceful Lady 83rd - E Coulthard
2nd Cotley Anne 46th - A H Ritson
3rd Strickley Pansy - W H & K M Robinson


1st Winbrook Cactus - G A & D W Dent
2nd Winbrook Peeress Rose - G A & D W Dent
3rd Strickley Pansy - W H & K M Robinson

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

It never rains but it pours . .

. . or snows.

I could have called this "trials and tribulations", or, "these things are sent to try us" - but you get the drift.

Every night when it's very cold we put a couple of heaters in the parlour to stop it freezing. Despite this, and making sure all the pipes were empty, the past two mornings it has been frozen, and there's been a lot of messing about before milking. Yesterday James bought a Propane Space Heater to give some more aggressive heat. All should have been well, but we had a power cut between three and half past this morning and the heater went off (does it need electricity as well?). Fortunately it was not as cold this morning - why? It's snowing again.

All our resources have been concentrated on keeping the parlour and dairy going and we left the house to it's own devices. Yesterday there was no water from the shower - I assume it's frozen pipes as they go up from the Back Kitchen (a very cold spot). We've now got a couple of heaters on frost setting and hope it is just frozen pipes and nothing more serious. Our bathroom is not the warmest of rooms - last week the outlet pipe from the bath froze. So we're down to a washbasin and jugs of water to wash my hair.

But all this is just moaning about things that can't be helped. Winters are cold. Pipes get frozen. Roads get a bit iffy.

What has really upset me this morning - the office computer won't come on! It went off with the power cut and while it powers on, the disk doesn't spin. I need to get an IT person to have a look at it (do I know one?).

So - no weather updates until it's sorted (it's directly linked to the weather station and uploads to the web). And we wanted to prove to you that we had fixed Strickley's Tropical Micro Climate - yes, the Stevenson/Strickley Screen is in place.

Back to work now.

Monday, 6 December 2010

The Strickley Screen

The Strickley Screen (see previous post) - ready to be installed!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The camera never lies - - -

- - - but sometimes it seems that our Weather Station does. But what you see is what you get. When the sun (even weak winter sun) shines directly on the temperature gauge, it transmits the temperature at that spot at that time. Rather like being in a car, feeling warm when the sun shines through the window. What we need is something to deflect the direct rays, but let the actual temperature through - a Stevenson Screen. Read all about it on Wikipedia. We've had the raw materials for a year or two (or three or four) but have been galvanised into action today and the ex-carboot louvre doors have been assembled into the Strickley Screen. Photograph to follow - when Henry has remembered how he planned to install it all those ago.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Brights Lights and Cold Nights

Kendal isn't known for it's Christmas decorations (and this year's tree isn't popular) - but there are still a few bright lights in unexpected places. For the past few weeks the traffic lights at Murley Moss have been blindingly bright, and this morning the Town Hall lights are the same. Have they all got new bulbs, or has someone just polished the glass? There may be others round the town - so look out for the Christmas Lights.
So far this winter we haven't had as much snow as other parts of the country (touching some virtual wood) - but it has been cold, very cold. According to our weather station (which is of course 100% accurate!) - it has got down to -10.4 at 05:38 - just when I was leaving for work. Thank goodness for heated seats and car heaters.
But after today 06:00 starts at work are a thing of the past. No more early shifts now, and only
21 days to go

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Winter Wonderland

Not at Strickley - but Rob's house in Belper.

Monday, 29 November 2010

It must be winter, when

We have porridge for breakfast
James brings his peach tree into the back kitchen
We have to lean out of the bedroom winter to knock snow off the satellite dish
And I have to use the Snow Setting on the car to drive to work

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Not really a whiteout - - -

- - - but it's our first snow of the season. I know it's winter and we should have been expecting it, but when Henry checked the cows last thing last night it was a clear sky full of stars, so it was a shock (to me at least) to wake up to whiteness. There was only 1 - 2 inches but it's a reminder of last winter. I know it looks picture-postcardy, but I hope it's not as bad this year.

Anyway, I'm warm and cosy in the house - Henry has brought in barrow loads of wood, there's soup cooking in the Aga (special recipe - end of the week leftover soup) and no need to venture out. Later on when all the stock has been fed, watered and cleaned out, we'll be continuing with our latest DIY project. Not a very big project - just some new shelves in the pantry. As some of you will know, our pantry is not just a glorified cupboard with a few tins and packets, but a rather large room. Some might call it the kitchen, but the one thing that's missing is a cooker. That (the Aga) is in what we call the kitchen - a real main living room with everything from Aga, kitchen table (very large of course) to computer, television and comfy chairs, and everything in between. The pantry has many advantages - one of which the ability to close the door and ignore the chaos that piles up. Since we moved round here 14 years ago (when Henry's dad died) we've not done much to it - just added various old cupboards. Nothing much is going to change, but I plan to be more organised (especially post 24/12/10), hence the new shelves (flat pack bookcases from Argos). Watch out for the perfect housewife!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Winter Haircuts

Do you have the same haircut all year round? I know someone who used to let his hair (and beard) grow during the colder months, presumably to help stave off the cold, then go to the hairdressers when the weather warmed up. (Not now though - not a change of policy, just a change of natural resources).

With cows it's the other way round - for reasons of health and well-being they have a winter clip, and yesterday Wendy and Hannah (aka Clippaholics - contact details available on request), worked their way through the most of the herd. It's a case of have clippers will travel as they move onto another herd today.

I know I keep going on about it, but this last weekend was my last working weekend. Yippee!

Friday, 19 November 2010

A busy week

It's been a busy week since my last post, but when I look back I can't pinpoint exactly what's been happening. I was working Thursday to Monday (a very long weekend, but my last Sunday!), then on Tuesday we had a quick break from routine and went down to Belper to see new arrival Quinn. He may be very young, but he's certainly not small and while we were there we never heard him cry once. I was armed with our camcorder, but most of the action came from Izzy. When she's a famous singer-songwriter, or playwright I can show films of her first performances.

Back home Henry and James have been busy - on Monday we had the monthly routine visit from the vet (12 out of 12 PD'd in calf). Muck has been spread, gates have been hung, water samples sent off for testing (from the borehole) and James has begun his First Responder training. I'm sure I've missed something, but in a few weeks I'll be there to see it all as it's only

35 days to go!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

I forgot to mention - - -

- - - with everything else going on - the milk cows stayed in all day on Monday (8th). They're inside now till turnout in Spring. We've done really well having them out so long. In the end it's not just that they've come to the end of the grass, but it's very wet underfoot. Monday was an horrendous day (wind and rain all day) so in they stayed. Today is a wonderful crisp sunny day and when I came back from shopping, most of them were outside in the loafing area looking at the gates and wondering if they were going to be opened. Sorry, but no.

So that's winter settling in. Cows inside and wintering hogs in the meadows.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Remember remember - - -

- - - the Fifth of November.

The birthday of Quinn Douglas Robinson - born this afternoon to Claire & Rob.

11 lb 2 oz

Mother, father, baby and big sister all doing well

Counting down

49 days to go

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Dummy Run

I'm off work this week - for no particular reason, other than I need to get my holidays used up. There's no visitors, no shows, no silaging etc. So it's a bit of a practice of life after 24th December. No leaving cold ham, cheese and yogurt in the fridge for dinner. But hot meals fresh from the Aga. Today it's vegetable soup and Eve's Pudding (still loads of apples in store). It's a bit like going back in time without the DeLorean, to a time when I was that much maligned person "a housewife". But I've got to ease into it gradually - so I'm putting off the Extreme Housewifery (ironing and other boring stuff) until I've retired for real.

What shall I do this afternoon? Daytime television? Turn out one of bedrooms? Make some scones? Light the fire and sit and read?

Must go and check the pudding

Friday, 29 October 2010

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Full House . . . .

. . . empty house.

For the past few days Strickley has been almost full - children, grandchildren, dog, cousins from France and Day Visitors. But now they've all gone and it's time to knuckle down and do some work (ie pay the monthly bills), sort out the meals for next week (late shift so I need to have supper planned as well as dinners).

Henry has just picked the last of the apples so I need to sort out the freezer and see if I can fit in any more bags of ready prepared slices. It's funny how the freezer is always full but there's nothing for supper. If we're snowed in this winter we'll be OK for several weeks. Lots of casseroles and milk puddings.

Back to the grindstone now - but I can see that small light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Sunday, 17 October 2010

. . and Pear Day

It does pears as well.

Henry's mother always called them "bottling pears" - but as I have never bottled anything, I tried freezing them a few years ago, and they come out perfect to serve with ice cream etc. They don't keep unless preserved in some way. One year we picked tons and put away in a cool place in boxes and baskets. A few weeks later, they looked OK from the outside, but had gone rotten from the core outwards. Perhaps we'll try Perry one year if we can knock up some sort of crush. Years ago I made cider by putting chopped apples in a pillowcase and putting through an old mangle (Acme of course). All went well, until there was just too much in one end of the pillowcase and it burst. We still made the cider - a bit rough but very drinkable.

The pear tree has been growing at Strickley probably at least as long as Robinsons have been here(1875). This photograph was taken in 1914, and it looks well established then. It continues to thrive - but maybe that's because of what's underground rather near it. You don't want to know.

Apple Day

This morning Henry, with Robert as a willing helper (maybe because it involved picking Food), brought in the first buckets of apples from our oldest tree. I'm not sure what sort of apples they are - they look a bit like Bramleys, but are not as sour.

In half an hour a big box of these
was turned into bags of these, and stored in the freezer for easy almost instant puddings.
The trick? Using this gadget
We've had our magic machine for a long time (since the last time self sufficiency was in fashion) and it might sit at the back of a cupbooard like some gadgets, but it's worth getting out for jobs like this.
With now two young helpers turning the handle, it was a doddle. Ignore the slightly negative reviews on the website. Our apples are definitely not the supermarket perfect specimens, but all whizzed through the machine. Even the bulls get something out of it - a heap of cores and long snake like strips of peel.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Parish Councillors at work

Being a Parish Councillor isn't all meetings, minutes and planning applications. Sometimes it involves Real Work (remember who gritted the lanes last winter). New Hutton parish owns a field on the very edge of the parish boundary, up near the Wind Farm near junction 36. It's been let out to a local farmer but is not in as good heart as it should be. The Council decided to improve it and our very own Mole Catcher was busy earlier in the year. Walls have been repaired and last week a small team of councillors tackled the drainage.

Many thanks to Tony, Tony, Henry, Arthur (clerk, waller and photographer), Oliver (young parishioner) and James (Mini Digger driver).

Blatant advertising

As to be published in the next edition of The Shorthorn Journal .

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Putting the past away and looking forward

Last week we drew a line under silaging and washed off the the equipment and locked it away till next year.

Today we're tidying up the smaller stuff. September was, as seems usual, a month when there was no time to pause and take stock between shows, silaging and selling stock. For a couple of weeks I have been studiously ignoring a stack of plastic boxes in the corner of the pantry. They had come back in from the meals I packed up during silaging, when I just emptied out the leftovers (not too many, as most people know if you don't eat it all, you get less next time) and promised myself to wash and dry them "sometime". But now they are overflowing off the draining board. Henry and James have finally got to the bottom of all the stuff that came back from shows - from less than pristine white shirts to halters. And having had a round up of jumpers cast off in various tractors and buildings over the summer, the washer's keeping busy.

But what's this about looking forward? Seventy nine days to go.

Monday, 27 September 2010

That's it . . .

. . .
no more silaging - the mower has been washed off and put aaway till next May/June (or so they say!)

Friday, 24 September 2010

Yet more grass!

Is there no end to the grass at Strickley?

Having filled the pit to capacity last week, and made some big bales, we had a few days off silaging (busy sawing trees up - see post from last week). But today the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the grass is green - so James is mowing about 24 more acres. Row up tomorrow. Big bale on Sunday - what can no wrong?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Warm and Dry

Having snatched our silage while we could, the weather has turned, and tonight we laid the milk cows in. (Would you like to shelter behind a hedge to keep out of the cold rain?)

And - on a completely different subject what do you think of this idea ?

Can you think of any drawbacks? Such as fields of bulls in ten years time? Click on the link to "Cool cow milk"!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Is it really mid September?

I know that that last week I wrote about Autumn starting after Kendal Show, but after a few days of wind and rain, we're back into a dry sunny spell. It's a bit cooler than it looks, but it's perfect for getting our third cut of silage. I thought there were just a couple of fields to big bale, but it turns out there's about 90 acres! As much as possible is going for clamp silage in the pits and the rest will be baled. We seem to have grass for ever more and are the only ones round here silaging at the moment. So we're well off of helpers. We've even had someone ring up to volunteer (though we reckon he just wants to look at our grass and wonder how it's so good with no chemical inputs). Lots of helpers mean lots of packed lunches (and suppers) so I had to dash to Booths this morning to stock up on buns, pies, meat, yogurts, crisps etc and I've had a production line going on the kitchen table.
It's not just the meadows that are doing well - the cows are still out day and night and producing more milk than ever before. We must be doing something right! I know that some farms are giving up their Organic status, but it works for us, for our stock and for the way we farm.
About this time of year we have a bit of a count up of the stock and check if it will all fit inside come winter. So last week we advertised a batch of milking and in-calf cows. Within a couple of days someone had been to see them and today 15 have gone off to a new home in Yorkshire. So tonight there will be less milk in the tank, though with more cows due soon, it will creep back up. It was getting very near the top and I was thinking I would have to make rice pudding every day to use up some milk.

And finally, having mentioned the weather - this is the result of strong winds and a rotten tree at Over Bleaze.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Now I've got the hang of it . .

. . well almost.

Here are videos of the other Dairy Shorthorn classes from Westmorland County Show.

And to complete the picture - here's a glimpse of last minute preparations (I wasn't there early enough to film any more).

Friday, 10 September 2010

The videos!

For our wedding anniversary earlier this year Henry and I bought ourselves a present - an all singing all dancing camcorder. The idea is that we record Farming Life for posterity. So far the only real footage is of Henry calving a cow, but I went to the show yesterday ready to capture whatever might happen. If there had been any runaway cows or other drama I hope I would have got it in the bag - but the only action was in the ring. I took nearly 30 minutes' footage and I'm now trying to get to grips with editing. I have cobbled together the clips of the Heifer in Milk Class and hopefully you should be able to click and play (don't forget to switch your speakers on!). If this works, there'll be more to follow. You have been warned.
My first (and second) attempt to upload my video failed - so I've now reduced the resolution and quality, uploaded to You Tube and embedded here so hopefully it will play when you click.

Sunshine and Shows

James took a heifer and cow down to the Dairy Event this week, and in a strong showing of Dairy Shorthorns it was not our year to shine. On Wednesday evening he drove up to the showfield at Crooklands to join our other entries settling in for Westmorland County Show.

The weather was just right yesterday - warm and dry and visitors poured in through the gates in their thousands. Henry and I got up at half past four and were on the showfield by about 8.30 ready for the judging at nine. James and Sean (a friend who gave up his time off work to help us) were sitting relaxing having got the cows ready for the ring.There were not quite as many Shorthorn exhibitors as last year, but a strong entry. The overall consensus is that the Strickley contingent did as well as they could, but were beaten by a Winbrook cow for the Championship.

I was noting down the results, and as far as I know these are accurate -

Maiden Heifer under 18 months
1st Strickley Lily 13th
2nd Winbrook Vi
Heifer in Calf under 3 years old
1st Winbrook Peeress Rose
Cow in Calf
1st Strickley Pansy
2nd Winbrook Dewdrop 112
Heifer in Milk
1st Strickley Annabella 140
2nd Strickley Starlet 103
3rd Winbrook Cactus 7
4th Middle Bank End Ruby
Cow in Milk
1st Winbrook Peeress Rose
2nd Winbrook Digitalis 2
3rd Strickley Athena 3
Group of Three
1st W H & K M Robinson
2nd GA & D W Dent
3rd N J & C Barker
Breed Champion
Winbrok Peeress Rose - G A & D W Dent
Winbrook Digitalis 2 - N J & C Barker
Junior Champion
Strickley Annabella 140 - W H & K M Robinson
There are no photographs (yet) this year - but look out for the next post with videos! (well at least one)
And, as a postscript to the day, as usual Autumn starts the day after Kendal Show. Rain started at two o'clock this morning and has barely stopped!.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

As if we didn't have enough to do . . .

With James away at the Dairy Event, everything takes just that little bit longer, but by getting up earlier (and finishing later) Henry is on top of things. But just when you think everything is going well - fate intervenes.

The cows are grazing a long way down the fields this week and yesterday Henry set off in good time to fetch them in for milking. The most direct route is down the "Old Lane", behind James' house and onwards to Plucker. All was well when he set off, but by the time the cows had ambled back up the lane was blocked.

The strong gusts of wind that had been blowing all day struck down a tree and blocked the lane. A couple of cows managed to limbo underneath, but the rest had to be directed via the scenic route through the Teapot Field.

The lane's clear now and the good thing is we've got a bit of firewood for winter.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Revenons à nos moutons

Just to reassure you - I've not completely lost the plot and the next post will (almost) definitely be about Strickley and cows.

(And certainly not about sheep)

A soldiers story - part 3

If anyone is really really interested in Military History I found a link to a Google Book - "The Kings Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle". If you persevere past the blank pages, it lists the campaigns that James Garnett was active in.

Isn't the Internet wonderful!

A soldiers story - part 2

As promised in the previous post, these are copies of the Chelsea Pensioner documents for my Great Great Grandfather James Garnett. If you click on each image it should open up so you can zoom in and read it. Each one is followed by transcriptions. I've had to add these as images as Blogger resisted all my attempts are formatting at anything other than the most basic level. So, there could be lots of clicking involved. If the transcriptions display correctly, anything in Italics was handwritten in the original. I have made a bit of an attempt to read and transcribe the names, but most have defeated me. If anyone is really interested, I cam email them better copies.

A soldiers story

For the past few years I have been unearthing our family tree. I had a head start with the Robinsons as Henry's dad did a lot of research in 1975 and I have dug deeper and we now have considerable knowledge of Robinsons, Fletchers and their ancestors as far back as the 1700's (and tentative knowledge beyond). With my side of the family I almost had to start from scratch, but the Internet had made initial research much easier. Censuses from 1841 to 1911 are available online and give a lot of detail , for instance, this is the census return from 1881 for Strickley.


As it shows the place of birth and given age (though some are inaccurate) of all the occupants, it's a good jumping off point to records of Births, Deaths and Marriages (required by law to be registered from 1837). Things get a bit more difficult for people born before 1837, or not in the UK.

For instance, from the census of 1861 I know that my Great Great Grandfather was a Chelsea Pensioner and Shoemaker and his wife Elizabeth was born in Ireland.

The Shoemaker didn't surprise me (there were a lot of shoemakers in Kendal in the 19th Century), but the Chelsea Pension bit intrigued me. Somehow I couldn't envisage one of my ancestors wearing a fancy scarlet coat and tricorne hat. But further research (good old Internet) revealed that originally all old soldiers with more than 20 years service received a pension, and were known as out-pensioners. Those living at the Chelsea Hospital were in-pensioners.

As Wikipedia puts it -

In- and out-pensioners
During the reign of King Charles II, the Royal Hospital was still under construction, so he introduced a system for distribution of army pensions in 1689. The pension was to be made available to all former soldiers who had been injured in service, or who had served for more than 20 years.

By the time the Hospital was completed, there were more pensioners than places available in the Hospital. Eligible ex-soldiers who could not be housed in the Hospital were termed out-pensioners, receiving their pension from the Royal Hospital but living outside it. In-pensioners, by contrast, surrender their army pension and live within the Royal Hospital.

In 1703, there were only 51 out-pensioners. By 1815 this figure had risen to 36,757.

The Royal Hospital remained responsible for distributing army pensions until 1955, following which the phrase "out-pensioner" became less common, and "Chelsea pensioner" was used largely to refer to "in-pensioners".

I subscribe to a website that makes a lot of useful documents available and get regular emails about updated records etc. About 12 months ago each email had a section saying "Chelsea Pensioner records added" (from the originals held in the National Archives) and I logged on and searched for my ancestor. But each time the search came back "no results". However about a week ago, when another batch of records was released, my search came back with the record I wanted - James Garnett, by trade a Shoemaker, born in Kendal about 1813. So for the past week there has been much pouring over transcriptions in various documents, trying to decipher the different handwriting.

I have tried to transcribe these documents and hope to be able to post images of the originals and my transcriptions in this Blog- but Blogger can be a bit quirky in how it positions images, so I'll start a new post.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Last routine day for a while

The sun is shining and it's already 20 degrees (in the unshuttered glare of our weather station) , but there's no time to sit around relaxing. Tomorrow James heads off to the NEC with Annabella and Athena. The Dairy Event has moved from Stoneleigh to the NEC (and it's also changed the date, which just adds a bit more logistical pressure onto us). He has to arrive on Sunday and will spend Monday preparing the girls for their big day. Judging is on Tuesday, and late afternoon on Wednesday he can leave and head north. But not quite to home. Thursday is our big local show and James and cows will be joining up with the rest of our entries in the new big cattle tent, before settling down as well as he can for the night.

So, if you're in Birmingham on Tuesday/Wednesday or Crooklands on Thursday, come along and see us.

And, as a bit of an aside, I can't quite visualise cows at the NEC. I've only been twice and neither times involved anything remotely agricultural.

In 1984 we went to a Queen concert, and the wonders of the Internet brought up this link to it. I know that given 5 minutes I could put my hand on our programme and tickets - just like those on the web page.

We were there again in 1995 for a motor show. In a previous life I was a navigator in Historic Rallies (1966 Mini Cooper) and that year we won our class in the "Demon Tweeks Classic - Historic Rally Championship" and part of the prize was a ticket to the motor show (I can't remember the proper name, but it was all to do with motorsport), a posh dinner in a posh hotel (where we were actually in the same room as the whole McCrae clan), and small cup (that sits between the cattle ones). I can't find any relevant links, but one day I'll post some photos.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Ruby Red

When it was our Ruby Wedding in July our very kind family and friends gave us a wonderful variety of presents - some to eat and drink, some to look at for years to come, some to enable us to enjoy time away. Those who know us (well, me in particular) know that giving me things to grow and nuture can be a risky option. But so far nothing drastic has happened to the Apple tree that was one of our presents. In fact we've had our first crop of apples! We knew it was time to pick them when one fell off and the rabbits ate most of it. The rest are in a bowl in the kitchen.

I took one to work, and before eating it, took a photo with my phone. If you think a 48 piece jigsaw is too easy, you have the option to change the type of puzzle (up to 280 pieces of various fiendish shapes).

Click to Mix and Solve

Friday, 20 August 2010


I'm sitting in a cool (very efficient air-conditioning) office watching the rain beating against the window. Four days ago I was sitting outside the caravan, sipping a cooling drink and thinking it was just a bit too hot. We've been trying to get away all summer - but have either been too busy with farm work (weather and silaging wait for no man) or entertaining guests. But at last there was a chink in clouds and on Sunday we headed north, caravan in tow. Not too far north - we didn't want to spend the time travelling. Just over an hour later we were set up at Englethwaite Hall with no plans, schedules, lists or deadlines.

So we had 3 days and nights doing nothing more taxing than a bit of shopping and a bit of sightseeing - where we got the chance play with out new toy.

The next few weeks on the calendar seem to be filled in for most days - North West Herd Competition, James away judging South Wales herd, Friends of the Lake District Farm Walk at Strickley, Dairy Event , Westmorland Show. It's a good job we enjoy what we do!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

August 1st

Just in case you were feeling sorry for me while the rest of the family were away enjoying themselves on August 1st - I have now edited the post to show the real reason for James' day out!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Just the two of us

Today the Strickley B & B is empty and the campsite closed last week.

So tonight we can leave the bathroom curtains open and wander round naked (upstairs at least) - or is that too much information?

Friday, 6 August 2010

Harvest Time

Back in May (see post from 4th May) we sowed two fields (Teapot and Barn Fields) with oats. This was immediately followed by a long dry spell and for a while we despaired that we would get any crop. As we were thinking we would maybe have to grub it out the weather changed for the better and/or worse (depending on your point of view) and the oats grew and grew.

Yesterday the contractor came and with tractors and machines that dwarfed ours whizzed round the fields and within 2 hours the silage pit in the barn was full. James was buck raking and Henry was wielding the camera. I missed the action, so for you and I (and 2 little boys who were away in Shropshire) here's two of the videos and a couple of photos.