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.