Friday, 26 February 2010

Still going strong

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Last night our grand old lady Strickley Geri had her 12th calf. She's a perfect example of what's best about the modern Dairy Shorthorn. Born in August 1996 she's still going strong and though her show winning days are over (see details on our main website) she is still in full production and hopefully will add to her already impressive yields (over 75,000 kg). She was our first cow to be classified excellent, and the last time she was classified (2008) scored EX 93. You can click here to see the full details on the Shorthorn website.

This latest calf is a heifer (Strickley Geri 19) to the Australian bull Panorama Aramis and I'm sure will be a valuable addition to the Strickley Herd.

This photograph of Geri was taken soon after turnout in 2007 (I think!)


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Easily Tempted

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Life on a dairy farm, especially in winter, doesn't give much opportunity for days out. So when Henry rang me at work last week and asked if I fancied a day out in the country, with the added attraction of a free (hot) lunch I was easily swayed. I checked the rota at work and as no one else was gallivanting off I could take a day off.

When I got home and read the flyer that had prompted this invitation I began to have doubts. It was for a day at Greystoke Castle, organised by FWAG and Natural England called "Energise Your Farm Business". It was a day of talks, trade stands and demonstrations on, among other things, saving energy. Now as we are hoping, and starting to investigate, a wind turbine, we felt it could offer some useful leads. But I could envisage striding up hill and down dale, and lots of standing around in a draughty and probably muddy farm yard.

But not wanting to look too much of a wimp I enjoyed the sleep in (till 7:30) and agreed to go. We could see snow not too far away from us, but assumed the roads would be clear. And they were (at least two lanes of the M6 had been ploughed and gritted). The road from Greystoke village across what I assume is parkland to the castle, was OK for those of us with 4 wheel drives (most farmers) and there was a tarmaced area to park. I was wrong about tramping up and down hills - everything was centred in one area. And I was wrong about the muddy farmyard - it was covered in snow.

It took a bit to get going as everyone had struggled to get there, but a large barn/shed/workshop (obviously used for training courses) was divided into bays and a few exhibitors had set up stalls. The main talks (accompanied by the ubiquitous Powerpoint presentations) were at one end. At first I thought "good it's inside" - but I have never been as cold in my life (certainly not inside). It was a well ventilated building (very healthy) with no additional heat. When we ventured outside the feeble heat of the sun seemed almost tropical.

We picked up some leads to follow up, and the hot pie and mash was very welcome, but it was wonderful to get back into a warm comfy car.

This is the view looking down towards the car park.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Free at last!

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Yesterday our heifers, though they may not have noticed, enjoyed genuine locally produced water - fresh from our new Rain Water Harvesting System. As you know as part of our roof-over-the silage-pit-project, we have captured some of the water that runs off, and it is directed to and stored in a storage tank. So far this has only been used for mixing cement, but yesterday the plumbing was completed and the new supply "switched on" for the heifers in the New Building. (This is of course the original New Building bought secondhand in 1965, not the purpose built pens "across the yard", or the newer building over the silage pit).

The water's not exactly free - about £300 for storage tank and pipework, not to mention the not inconsiderable cost of the building of the roof, but it's a first step away from the clutches of United Utilities.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

It's just as cold . . .

. . . as it was 41 years ago.

In February 1969 two fresh faced young men, accompanied by two elegant fiancees held a 21st Birthday Party in New Hutton Village Hall. It was a bitterly cold night, which got even colder when the electricity went off. I can't remember if we got by with the light from candles till it was restored, but I do remember the band (live music - no disco then) went down the pub to keep warm.

This is rather an old scabby photo, but note the two identical cakes, and stacks of cups and saucers.

There's no celebration tonight (Henry has a Parish Councilors' training meeting), but tomorrow the four of us are off out to somewhere with good food, good wine and roaring fires


Friday, 5 February 2010

Birthday Boys in February

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February's a busy month for Birthdays at Strickley and it's outposts -
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Happy 12th Birthday to Elliot on 2nd February
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Happy 6th Birthday to Robert today (5th February)
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And Happy 62nd Birthday to Henry and Arthur on 11th February.
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Thursday, 4 February 2010

Grapevine

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Living in the country we might not see our neighbours as often as is they lived just over the garden fence, rather than several fields away, but that doesn't mean we're not as nosey (sorry, I mean interested) in what they're up to. And we don't need to be kept in the dark. There is a rural network of intelligence gatherers going from farm to farm spreading the news.

If you ever want to keep a secret, make sure you don't let on to the AI man (or woman), sales rep, postman or milk recorder.

Yesterday's news was not just QI, but Very Interesting.