Saturday, 29 October 2011

Improving the environment

As you may know we have an HLS agreement (click for a link). This is a sort of descendant of the Hedging Initiative, Countryside Stewardship and other schemes - which Strickley has been involved with for many years. We already had an ELS (Entry Level Scheme), then OELS (Organic Entry Level Scheme), before being accepted onto the HLS (Higher Level Scheme). It's a ten year process and we've spent a lot of time getting this far. Some of it rewards us (by payments) for what we are already doing (hedging etc), and some encourages to do more. Over the past few years local schools and playgroups have spent time at Strickley, but now they do so in a more structured way (led by Michelle). Over the winter we hope to improve the facilities.
Next week we will be starting hedging (we used to reckon we did a mile a year), now the leaves have mostly fallen. This past week, as part of the scheme, we have been felling a group of trees in the wood. These are conifers that were planted about 40 years ago and now the tree canopy is too dense. So down they've come, to let in light and encourage vegetation to grow underneath, providing a habitat for flora and fauna

We've also been busy on The Lots digging out two small ponds to encourage different wildlife - e.g. Redshanks (apparently we're on the flight path) - pictures to follow when/if we take some.

And of course muck is always with us, so plenty of that had been flung as well

Saturday, 22 October 2011

It really is the World Wide Web

We've been using Google Analytics for about a week now, tracking and analysing visitors to our main website and to this blog. I've a long way to go in getting to the bottom of all the features, but a quick click on the standard reports shows a surprising range for countries.

This data is for the main website (the Blog is tracked separately at the moment - though there is an overlap with links from one to the other)

And if your geography is a bit rusty - that's
Hong Kong
United Kingdom
United States

Some visitors come direct - i.e. type in Others follow the link from this blog. Some people follow links from other websites (e.g. or But quite a lot "Google" us. We can see what keyword they searched on - and it's not all farming related. The spelling in the list below is as input by searchers.

blackthorn tree
charlotte, ia poor farm
cuckoo flower
dairy shorthorn
dairy shorthorn cattle
dairy shorthorn prefection ten
dairy shorthorn sales uk
dressed poultry chicken
dust and stones
garlic mustard
holly flower pictures
how to dressed chickens
iris yellow
pearson william robinson
robinsons dairy dingle liverpool 8
rodway organic shorthorns
shorthorn bulls head
strickley farm kendal
yellow irises

But rest assured - we don't know who you are, or your IP address. I just find it fascinating that someone the other side of the world is reading about us. 

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Don't be scared, but . . .

. . . we are watching you.

I've just discovered a new "toy" - i.e. something else to fiddle about with.

Google Analytics

Assuming I've got it setup correctly, and inserted the right bit of code in the right place on the Blog, Strickley main website and Weather page, I should be able tell how many people visit them. And a lot more besides. I've a bit of a learning still to do, but the results so far seem to be accurate.

For instance, yesterday some from Bristol, using Windows and IE 8, with a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 visited us.  I even know their ISP.
And then was someone from Leicester looking at the weather on an Android  phone. I even know the make of phone.

I hope this isn't worrying, but if I, with no previous experience, can find out all of that with a free out-of-the-box tool in 30 minutes, what are the real websites picking up about our online behaviour?

Well, I'm off to fiddle about some more - so keep visiting us (to give me some data to analyse)

Friday, 14 October 2011

Dipping a toe in the water

. .  well, several legs actually.

As part of our HLS agreement we have had a few local schools visit us. And by the next ones come, looking in the pond will be easier. We've assembled a "Dipping Platform" and Henry and James have prepared a place for it and today it was lowered into place and firmly fixed.  This video shows how useful our tele-handler is.

And in case the video doesn't display correctly - here are a few photos.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

In, Out, In

Over the past week the milk cows have been going out during the day, but there have been a couple of really bad days when we've kept  them inside. And now the time has come to say, enough's enough, and stop the trek through muddy gateways. We also brought a batch of calvers in, so the winter routine has definitely started.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Whatever the weather . . . .

. . .  there's always plenty to do.

The brief misplaced spell of summer has been and gone, and the only reminder is the big stack of bales. But wind and rain (and there's been a lot of wind) don't keep farmers indoors. This week almost every animal at Strickley has been moved around. The cows have finished off the grass that was undersown the Triticale and are  now in The Teapot Field. Groups of calves have been shuffled round and have new grass to graze. And we've sorted out the bulling heifers. The first group should be calving in summer and go into the herd (with a few to sell at the Penrith Sale) and the next group calving a bit later (with a batch for sale in the autumn).

School visits have stopped for now, but we're improving what we offer ready for next year. We're lucky having the wood and pond and have bought some picnic tables and benches for outdoor activities. There's also a pond dipping platform, which is ready to be lifted and lowered into place.

And whatever the weather, you're never more than a Click away from checking it out. We're now exporting the data to four different places.

So, you can see all the latest details and historical analysis on put main weather page - updated every 15 minutes

Or read summary on the top of this Blog - updated every 10 minutes

Or see how we compare with the rest of the country on WOW - updated every 15 minutes

And we've joined Twitter. I've never really seen the point of telling the world the mundane details of your daily life, or reading other people' random thoughts. But partly as an exercise to see if I could, and to keep my brain active, I've set up our weather software to send a Tweet three or fours times a day (I'm still fine tuning the schedule). As each Tweet is limited to 140 characters, it's a slimmed down report. This is it's first day, so it's probably still a work in process. But if you're a Twitterer, you can "follow" us (StrickleyFarm) - but don't expect any non-weather Tweets.

Monday, 3 October 2011

More deer

Who needs a fancy remote sensor wildlife camera, when Victoria was able to take this yesterday in deepest Leicestershire (well, not so deep - Bradgate Park).

(And if you're wondering about the dearth of Strickley wildlife photos - the camera had an unfortunate incident involving a bike, a coat and hard concrete. It's currently in the hands of the NFU)

Saturday, 1 October 2011

A productive week

Looking back we seem to have done a lot this last week. The long (or longish) dry spell may have come late in the season, but it was very welcome. On Tuesday we mowed about 60 acres of third cut, and we now have 140 extra big bales stacked ready for winter. Big Bale silaging seem to run to a different tempo to clamp silaging. From the house I don't see a constant stream of tractors and trailers rattling through the yard, and there are less mouths to feed. Most of the work is done out of sight of the house and it can happen that the various people involved work alone. It started with James mowing on Tuesday, then Henry spent most of Wednesday rowing up. (See the videos in May posts). Wednesday afternoon the contractor arrived to bale and wrap (all in one machine). Henry and James worked till dark on Wednesday and Thursday shifting the bales to our compound. And that's another difference to the earlier silage cuts - "working till dark" was after  11pm in May, but is now only 7.30 pm.

Also on Thursday we sorted out the batch of cows that we have sold to a farm near Gargrave. They had some last year and are very pleased with them, so caught up with James at the Dairy Event to see if we have some available this year. We've done our calculations and know how much stock we can house over winter. There were three newly calved and twelve due in the next couple of months. They have gone to another Organic farm, so as well as the passports, CTS movement, pedigree certificates etc, they need Soil Association transfer documents. A lot of paperwork. All went well and the carrier came for them yesterday afternoon, in time for milking at their new home.

Other fine weather jobs this week have included sawing up wood and replacing slates on the house roof (the Manitou comes in very useful - long and high reach).

And finally a quiz question -  "When was the October temperature record set in March?"

Click here for the answer (about third of the way down)

Update - record broken today