Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Is it really summer?

11:00 - spotted at Strickley - one swallow.

Looking rather sorry for itself and probably wondering where it's mates are, and why it made the effort to get here so early in the year.

Never have we seen one so early, and never has winter gone on so long.

Perhaps - "Summer is icumen in". If you click on the link you can read all about it. I especially like the modern version -

Summer has come in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow
And the wood springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo!
The ewe bleats after the lamb
The cow lows after the calf.
The bullock stirs, the stag farts,
Merrily sing, Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing,
Don't you ever stop now,

Sing cuckoo now. Sing, Cuckoo.
Sing Cuckoo. Sing cuckoo now!

A New Toy

Just arrived, and waiting for me at home, is a new toy. A present from me to me. It's a blank sheet of paper. It's a new filing cabinet. With more space than I could ever need. With a bigger desk to spread out all my work in hand. With more hamsters running faster on more wheels.

Yes - a new computer.

The only fly in the ointment - it will use the same slow broadband that we get living so far from the Exchange

Saturday, 27 March 2010

It only seems like yesterday. . .

. . . but it's three years today since I started these public ramblings.

Some things have changed - one more grandson, one less son-in-law - but farming changes slowly. We are now fully organic and have invested in a couple of new buildings, but we're still a family farm milking Dairy Shorthorns.

Mole Watch (an idea for the BBC?) - the total so far is 17.

The grass has at last started to green up after the ravages of winter. Despite what some people think, farmers are essentially optimistic, and we're hopeful growth will soon catch up with other years. The wintering sheep have gone back their summer fells so there's nothing to nibble the young shoots. It's "Spring Forward" tonight - so we can get even more work done in daylight hours. No lurking inside just because it's dark.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Twenty four hours from Strickley

It was only Friday night, but it now seems a lifetime away.

We left Strickley about 11.30 on Friday and were back again by 1.30 Saturday. Just over 24 hours; some of it spent sleeping (in the worst bed I've ever tried to sleep in) and some of it travelling, and even some of it eating and drinking. But the essence of the weekend was the two hours watching Chris Rea on stage. Each time we see him I wonder if it will the last so I try so hard to store it deep in the recesses of my mind so I can recall it all later. The seats were good - uninterrupted view to the very centre of the stage (my fingers were poised to book the day tickets went on sale) and the sound was amazing. It's the sort of experience you don't want to end, and I would willingly have opted for a Ground Hog Day chance to relive it again and again.

But everything is finite and now it's Sunday afternoon. We've been shopping, got some wood in, sorted some paperwork and paid the monthly bills, planned the meals for the next few days and put supper in the oven. Henry's milking and I'm looking forward (but not necessarily in a good way) to a week at work.

I hesitate to post a link to the concert - though there are clips on YouTube - as nothing can really convey the atmosphere of a live concert - but if you go to YouTube and search for "Chris Rea 2010 Harrogate" you'll find some clips. I thought about taking a camera, but decided to enjoy the moment, rather than be fiddling with technology.

Till the next time

Monday, 15 March 2010

The fields are alive . .

. . . with the sound of tractors.

Now that the ground has thawed and and dried up a bit everyone is busy with spring field work. Today Henry is harrowing and James aerating, in the hope that underneath the yellow veneer, green shoots are waiting to burst out.

And moles - watch out! The mole catcher is at large - eleven so far this year.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Another Tick

Party marquee now booked (just to keep the hot sun off us of course!)

And a warning - we may be looking for volunteers to erect the tent (were you ever in the Scouts?).

Update from yesterdays Blog - why is there no photo of Henry on a bike? Did be ever have one?

Monday, 8 March 2010

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose

or somethings never change.

A boy on his bike
Robert in the yard yesterday -

And 30 years ago (actually 30th December 1979) here's James - same wall, nearly same gate (replaced last year), woolly hat, wellies, big grin.
And to complete the sequence - here's one from 1932 (pity it's not in front of the gate though).

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Summer is already mapped out

There still may be frost in the air and not many green shoots in the fields, but our plans for a busy summer are in full swing. It's going to be busy at Strickley with something for everyone. Sometimes we just can't say no, and sometimes we have Big Plans ourselves. But there's going to be lots of clearing and tidying (and that's just outside).

We kick off in May with a Farm Walk for Kendal Farmers' Discussion Group (fine night preferable but not essential), followed by Grayrigg Show's Summer Barbecue at the beginning of July (fine night if possible please). Unfortunately this clashes with some football event somewhere and I may have to consider setting up a TV in the barn . . .

But these are just an excuse to make us tidy up for the Main Event at the end of July. Forty years ago it was cold and wet - when I look back at photographs everyone is wearing coats (or nice tweed costume and sensible hats). Will this year be any different? In the Olden Days weddings seemed to have been planned more by the parents than the Bride and Groom (maybe because they paid for it?) so having a Ruby Wedding party gives us the chance to do what we want. The plans are all there in my mind, but getting them to fruition has had a few setbacks. In retrospect we chose the wrong weekend to get married. We should have known that forty years on there would be other bigger events on the same day. We hoped to use a local caterer, but out first choice is committed to Cumbria Steam Gathering. (No disrespect intended to those we have booked, who will do a wonderful job). In my mind's eye I could see a pristine white marquee in the paddock (courtesy of Westmorland Show). But that is committed to Windermere Air Show. So if the weather runs true to type we will be in the barn (beautifully decorated of course), or if the unexpected happens and we have last year's promised "Barbecue Summer" under a row of gazebos.

I have a checklist which I'm ticking off -
Hog Roast - booked
Marquee - alternative planned
Band - booked
Cake - decorator promised
Invitations - lots of creative thought being applied
Weather - nothing we can do about it
Everything else - not yet done
Busy schedule maybe - but none of this is real farming business. It all has to fit around silage making and shows (showing and judging). And maybe even a few days holiday?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Good for another hundred years

About a month ago there was a rumble and suddenly the corner of our garden was was lying in a heap. It's always looked strong and solid but the severe frost this winter had loosened it. We've been carefully parking to the right of it and waiting for an opportunity to rebuild it. On Sunday Henry's brother Arthur (retired teacher and now part time waller) came round to make a start, and by teatime today it's as good as new.

Surveying the damage
Sorting the stones
A good foundation
Working together
Checking the level
Almost done
Better than ever!
Hopefully the wall will last for the next hundred years - this photograph was taken in 1914 and the wall looks almost the same (the stone ball was added later).