Sunday, 30 May 2010

First cut

Just a quick update - James has just started mowing.

Henry's getting the rake ready and Len the contractor is coming at 6 tonight to start picking up.

And me? I'm 12 miles away in an empty office keeping an eye on another business.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Porch Watch 6 - when you though the bird had flown

This morning I was sitting at the computer (monthly accounts) and idly looking out of the window. As I watched the swallows swooping round the yard a familiar brownish bird landed on the gatepost with a beakful of dry grass. Yes, it's our very own porch guest back to raise another family. Obviously the bedding needed freshening up after having had 6 babies in it, but she's now back on the nest looking smugger than ever. Where has the last brood gone? Somewhere safe I hope.


And this is copied from Wikipedia for those who might doubt that the blackbird would come back.

The male Common Blackbird attracts the female with a courtship display which consists of oblique runs combined with head-bowing movements, an open beak, and a "strangled" low song. The female remains motionless until she raises her head and tail to permit copulation.[24] This species is monogamous, and the established pair will usually stay together as long as they both survive.[13] Pair separation rates of up to 20% have been noted following poor breeding.[34] Although socially monogamous, there have been studies showing as much as 17% extra pair paternity.[35]

Nominate T. merula may commence breeding in March, but eastern and Indian races are a month or more later, and the introduced New Zealand birds start nesting in August.[5][25] The breeding pair prospect for a suitable nest site in a creeper or bush, favouring evergreen or thorny species such as ivy, holly, hawthorn, honeysuckle or pyracantha,[36] and the female builds a neat cup-shaped nest from grasses and similar vegetation, which she then lines with mud or muddy leaves. She lays three to five (usually four) bluish-green eggs marked with reddish-brown blotches,[24] heaviest at the larger end;[25] the eggs of nominate T. merula are 2.9 x 2.1 centimetres (1.14 x 0.93 in) in size and weigh 7.2 grammes (0.25 oz), of which 6% is shell.[37] Eggs of birds of the southern Indian races are paler than those from the northern subcontinent and Europe.[5]

ChicksThe female incubates for 12–14 days before the altricial chicks are hatched naked and blind. Fledging takes another 10–19 (average 13.6) days, with both parents feeding the young and removing faecal sacs.[13] The young are fed by the parents for up to three weeks after leaving the nest, and will follow the adults begging for food. If the female starts another nest, the male alone will feed the fledged young.[24] Second broods are common, with the female reusing the same nest if the brood was successful, and three broods may be raised in the south of the Common Blackbird's range.[5]

Montane subspecies, such as T. maximus have a shorter breeding season, smaller clutches (2–4 eggs, averaging 2.86), but larger eggs than merula. They produce just one brood per year, and have a slightly shorter incubation period of 12–13 days, but a longer nestling period (16–18 days).[38]

A Common Blackbird has an average life expectancy of 2.4 years,[39] and, based on data from bird ringing, the oldest recorded age is 21 years and 10 months.[40]


What have I been Blogging about lately? Well, according to Wordle it's all of these words -

Click on the Wordle link and have a play

Sunday, 23 May 2010

From rocks to buildings

Having found our water it needs to be pumped down to the buildings. Colin returned last Thursday with a truck load of cables, pipes, fittings and a pump etc. Henry was on his own all day (I was at work and James at Legoland) so there's not as many photographs as usual . (Though Arthur did come over to take some later in the day).

We had worked out a route (bearing in mind the borehole is in the middle of a field) and dug a trench straight across to the hedge, down the side of the hedge and along the bottom of the field behind the buildings.

This was later filled in and will soon be invisible

A cable for the electric supply was laid in the bottom, covered over and marked with yellow tape, and then the blue water pipe.

The hole was then uncovered and we were ready to connect.

The submersible pump was connected to the pipe, tied to a rope and lowered into the well. (sorry some of the photos are in the wrong order but it's awkward rearranging things in Blogger)

The other end of the water pipe was connected to a pressure vessel. It's here that the flow is controlled (I think)

And by I came home from work Henry could demonstrate real live water.

Since then we have laid a temporary pipe across the yard so that the first water runs out into the slurry pit. We'll be sending some samples off for testing this week but we had a glass each last night with no ill affects.
And for those of a scientific mind, it helps to have a geologist in the family. Arthur has drawn up a diagram of what's what and is willing to answer questions you post as comments.

And if anyone else is thinking of doing something similar we can recommend our driller/contractor (not sure if that's the right term) Colin Armitstead. And, if you don't know if you've got a suitable water supply, then get in touch with Peter Golding who found ours. His website has his contact details

Porch Watch 5

The birds have flown!

Last night there was a nest full of birds (all 6 hatched) and by 08:00 this morning it was empty.

So good luck to our Blackbird family, and at least there shouldn't be any more black and white splatters on the step.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Porch Watch 4


Sometime this past week the eggs have hatched and the nest is now very full of fledgling blackbirds. The mother is kept busy finding tasty morsels and still smirking smugly.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Caught on camera

Last year on Saturday 30th May we started mowing for the first silage cut (see the Blog entries).
We always make a note of these dates, but just in case we forget it's been immortalised by the Eye In The Sky (aka Google Earth). The picture below shows the empty silage pit, James mowing Strickley Hill and Henry rowing up in the Barn Field. The date on the bottom of the screen confirms it was taken 30/05/2010. I would have liked to have put a link to Google Earth, but failed miserably. If you have Google Earth - search for LA8 0LU. That will bring up Bleaze Hall (same postcode) so move a bit northwest to Strickley.

If you use Streetview you can tell that the street level cameras captured us later in the day as the grass is rowed up and we're just waiting for the contractor to come and start picking up.

It's fascinating what you can see - hours can be idled away. If you scroll down to our pond, you can even pick out a swan on the bottom island!

.Happy browsing!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

It must be summer

It doesn't matter what the date is, or to some extent what the weather is like - today is Summer at Strickley. Last night the dairy cows stayed out, and today the rest of the youngstock is going out. So there's only the younger calves inside. That means, less time doing up, and more time to do other jobs. It doesn't mean more time off!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

A day in the life of a Parish Councillor

Do you know what your Parish Councillor actually does? Well, among many and varied duties one of the members of New Hutton Parish Council is charged with controlling the mole population in the Parish Field (a small wind blown outpost up near Lambrigg Wind Farm).

Here's one that won't trouble us again

Saturday, 8 May 2010

What happens next?

So what happens now? We know there's water between 50 and 80 metres below Wellbank (you've seen the photos and video), but how do we get it to the cows and the house?

The drill and all the shafts have been pulled up, unscrewed and loaded back onto the rig.
The drill head

The blue liner has been pushed down the borehole fixed in placed with 2 metres of grouting.

And later we'll be using blue water pipe and a submersible pump

It will then be covered with a inspection chamber

The driller has gone away but will be back soon and we then carry on with Pressure Vessels, pumps, electricity, testing and deciding the best route.
When James caught some water in a bucket (see the video in the previous post) he put some into an empty (Gin) bottle and left it on the windowsill. It hasn't taken long to settle (there is hardly any sediment).
It looks good enough to drink!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Strickley's finest organic spring water

Today when I was at work missing all the action we finally found what we were looking for - real, wet, gushing water. These picture were taken at about 60 - 64 metres. We're going to continue to about 80 metres then I'm not sure what happens next, but a Blue Liner comes into it. I must find out out more!

Henry caught some of the water in a (cleanish) jam jar. It's settled out a bit more since this was taken, but it's maybe not quite ready for drinking yet.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


This is probably a reason for using Twitter - latest news - the drillers assistant has been sprayed by water! Muddy, but definitely wet.

As ever, watch this space


It wasn't all Boring at the weekend. Spring Work still goes on. At the end of last week a contractor came and ploughed the Teapot and Barn fields, so Henry and James have been busy disking, levelling and stone picking. The contractor was due back this morning at 06:30 (I assume he came - I was already at work by then) to sow the seeds - grass undersown with oats, or is it oats undersown with grass? I should have been paying more attention.

A Boring Bank Holiday

What did you do on Bank Holiday Monday? Went to the seaside? Walked in the country? Queued at a DIY store or Garden Centre? I bet not many of you stood on top of a hill and watched a drill bore slowly into the earth.

After waiting so long for the return of the drill I was really excited and was on top of Wellbank with my camera to capture all the action. I had forgotten how long it took to get anywhere last time (or to accept that we weren't getting anywhere) and had not realised how cold and exposed it was. The drill was levelled up (so it would go straight down to Australia and not veer off and come up in the next county) and we were ready to go.

One by one lengths of pipe (not sure if that's the right word) were screwed onto the drill bit and it slowly bored itself into the ground.

It went through the Top Soil and Sub Soil, leaving a very fine tilth on the surface.

And then through more stony stuff.

There are correct geological terms for the various layers, which I'll add in my Final Report. But when we left off last night, we had gone down about 34 feet and not reached the limestone rock (where apparently we may find water).
To be continued.
And of course, no Bank Holiday would be complete without a visit to casualty . . .

Monday, 3 May 2010

Porch Watch 3

This morning the blackbird briefly left the nest (weekly shop?) and with the help of a tall son on a kitchen chair we were able to grab a quick picture of the six eggs.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

One month later . . .

. . . . or that's what we thought when we started this project in November 2007 when we started to look for water. I didn't publicise the whole process (maybe because of the non-scientific side to it). But the drill went deeper and deeper and found nothing.

So we investigated a more left field approach and called on a Water Diviner/dowser. His equipment was a bit smaller and simpler that the drilling rig and he started in the Teapot Field where we had been drilling (in hope that the source would be near the buildings)

Definitely no. So having looked at the terrain and maps he suggested the most likely place would be on top of a hill and we tramped up to watch him at work

He walked backwards and forwards and moved his pegs as he homed in on the source.

He could tell us not only the best place, but details of the flow etc and how deep we should drill. James duly noted all of this.

When the exact location was established he marked the spot with a stick and spray. (Watched with varying degrees of incredulity by James and Colin the driller)

In due course we had a written report (and bill).

So we sat back and waited for the drill to return "in about a month". Thirty months on the marker pole is still in place (despite silaging/muck spreading/cows/snow) and today there rolled into the yard the same big dusty drilling rig.

It's up on the hill next to the marker (faint line on the right of the photo) and next week the work starts in earnest! So watch this space (again)