Sunday, 22 December 2013

Shorthorn Journal

Click here to read the 2013 Shorthorn journal hot of the press!

Read all about the Dairy Shorthorn world (including of course the Strickley Herd).
And look out for a very fetching photo of James!

Computer problems

Just so you know, we've got a bit of computer problem at the moment. Our main desktop PC is temporarily (we hope) out of action. So, there will be no weather updates for a while.
We'll still be contactable on the usual email. I now need to find friendly IT person who can offer some practical advice. Someone reading this might get a call soon.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Another milestone

Today I am older than I was yesterday. Not just a few hours or a day older, but a year older. I can no longer sing that well known song heralding "old age" as something way in the future. Are there any songs about being sixty five? It's rather a transitional age - women of my age could have been claiming their pension for five years, while their male counterparts were just qualifying. (And that will no longer apply). I could still have been at work (but I chose to retire three years ago). Retirement is maybe not the correct term - more something like, stopped going OUT to work.

As befits someone at an age that was once considered really really old, I have had a lazy day.

I slept in (till 8.30!) and Henry made breakfast (after he, poor old pensioner had been working for two and a half hours).
I opened my presents - an amazing selection - something for the inner body (and mind) as well as the outside - and much more apt cards than I ever find.
We went for lunch at a local farm shop/café, and this afternoon I have been doing nothing more strenuous than playing with my latest gadget. (In the end, hints weren't quite enough for Henry, and I had to take him to a local PC store and extol the virtues of what I had my eye on)
And tonight, Henry and I, together with James and family are going out for a celebration supper.

And to finish, a song for the future. Written by John Lennon, but sung here by Glenn Campbell

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Last week - no Christmas trees.

This week - eight Christmas trees!

    One huge one in the hall (taking up half the floor space)
    One in 4 front bedroom windows.
    Two in the sitting room windows
    One sparkly little red thing on the big bookcase.

Swags, dangly things and lights along the kitchen beams.

Presents bought and wrapped. Some given out.

Have we enough food?
Have we enough drink?
Probably - but we wouldn't want to under-cater.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Cards all posted.
Presents all bought (including Henry's)
First batch of presents wrapped ready for delivery this weekend.
Christmas cake made (just come out of the oven and it smells wonderful!)
Tree lights tested - four sets working, one set not working, one set missing presumed dead.
Bedroom trees on windowsills ready for the Switch On on Saturday.

Herd Competition

Last night the North West Association of Shorthorn Breeders held their annual dinner. The main event, after the food, was the announcement of the results of the 2013 Herd Competition, and presentation of trophies and certificates.

These were the results - I have copied and pasted them from another document, so they may or may not display and be formatted correctly. (Saves retyping)






Class 1 Large Herds


1st       Winbrook Herd                                 G A & D W Dent

2nd     Whitchester Herd                             C Hall

3rd      Strickley Herd                                   Messrs Robinson

=3rd    Kirkbryde Herd                                 M Robinson


Class 2 Small Herds


1st       Beaconview                                      J Handley

2nd     Briscoll                                               Mrs Coulthard

3rd      Moorriggs                                          P Armstrong

4th      Newpark                                            D Craig


Class 3 Young Stock Large Herds


1st       Whitchester Herd                             C Hall

2nd     Strickley Herd                                   Messrs Robinson

3rd      Winbrook Herd                                 G A & D W Dent

4th      Brafell Herd                                       J Teasdale


Class 4 Young Stock Small Herds


1st       Beaconview                                      J Handley

2nd     Moorriggs                                          P Armstrong

3rd      Briscoll Herd                                     Mrs Coulthard

4th      Tahuna Herd                                     D Jackson


Class 5 Heifer in Calf


1st       Strickley Oak Barrington 29th        Messrs Robinson

2nd     Newpark Jean 22nd                         D Craig

3rd      Moorriggs Swell 2nd                       P Armstrong

4th      Mossrigg Poppy Barrington           J Fisher


Class 6 Heifer in Milk


1st       Strickley Lily 15th                          Messrs Robinson

2nd     Winbrook Foggathorpe Lass 5th   G A & D W Dent

3rd      Beaconview Lady Rose 2nd          J Handley

4th      Oxton Foggathorpe 677th              T Moscrop


Class 7 Cow to Have Calved Twice


1st       Beaconview Fillpail                        J Handley

2nd     Strickley Goldie 198th                     Messrs Robinson

3rd      Whitchester Lucky Lady                 C Hall

4th      Winbrook Peeress Rose 12th        G A & D W Dent



Class 8 Progeny of One Bull


1st       Marleycote Lucky Man                  C Hall

2nd     Llandovery Jinnys Empire             Messrs Robinson

3rd      Winbrook King Henry                    Mrs Coulthard

4th      Winbrook Marmaduke                   G A & D W Dent


Class 9a Bull on Inspection Only


1st       Marleycote Gold Blend                  G A & D W Dent

2nd     Middlebankend Digger                   N Barker

3rd      Briscol Laird                                    Mrs Coulthard

4th      Winbrook Pedro                              G A & D W Dent


Class 9b Bull on Inspection and Production


1st       Marleycote Gold Blend                   G A & D W Dent

2nd     Strickley Maximus                           Messrs Robinson

3rd      Briscol Laird                                    Mrs Coulthard

4th      Middlebankend Digger                    N Barker


Class 10a Cow on Inspection Only


1st       Winbrook Peeress Rose                 G A & D W Dent

2nd     Marleycote Barrington Iris 15th       J Fisher

=2nd   Strickley Starlet 94th                       Messrs Robinson

4th      Briscol Graceful Lady 4th               Mrs Coulthard


Class 10b Cow on Inspection and Production


1st       Marleycote Barrington Iris 15th     J Fisher

2nd     Briscol Graceful Lady 4th               Mrs Coulthard

3rd      Strickley Starlet 94th                      Messrs Robinson

4th      Winbrook Peeress Rose                 G A & D W Dent


Class 11 Best Pure Bred Animal


1st       Parton Perry Pansy 6th                  J Hewson

2nd     Oxton Foggathorpe 677th              T Moscrop

3rd      Kenprest Lady Hermione 10th        J Teasdale

=3rd    Tahuna Dewdrop                             D Jackson




Saturday, 7 December 2013

Live Music

There's nothing like live music. It doesn't have to be in a grand concert hall or massive arena. And maybe it's better in a small venue where the band and/or singers are near to the audience. There's nowhere to hide - no backing tracks, no session players or singers. And definitely no dancing girls. With the Brewery theatre sold out to an audience who seemed to be avid knowledgeable fans, the Show of Hands gig last night was a memorable end to our season of concerts.

There was no support as such - but each member did three songs on there own, giving us a chance to admire their individual skills - especially Miranda.

As usual there was interaction with the audience and a chance of joining in with songs. There were songs from old albums, favourites which are even more appropriate now (Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed, and Katrina) as well as a Springsteen song and No Woman No Cry. An acoustic version of "Don't be a Stranger" brought a wonderful evening to a close.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

A day of two halves

If you have been looking at our weather page, you will have seen the wind speeds today - up to 76 mph. As far as we can tell there's no damage at Strickley, but James had to nip up New Hutton Lane to saw up a fallen branch, and Henry was diverted on his way back from the auction (fallen tree on Oxenholme Brow).

Back home I was getting a bit wound up as the stove struggled to get going. There seemed to be a malicious force putting it out every time there was a glimmer of a flame. It probably didn't help that the wind was blowing down the chimney.

Meanwhile the computer was having a bad day. Not exactly not working, but a fan was making excessive noise. Even with some music turned up high I knew it was not quite right. I do backup regularly (half a lifetime in IT taught me that), but if it was about to expire I wanted copies of the work I had done yesterday (certificates for the North West Regional Herd Competition).

But all has calmed down now (even me). After dinner we removed the cover of the PC tower and saw what I expected - a very large quantity of dust. Judicious use of a vacuum cleaner (I remembered not to say "Hoover"), and twice as long trying to get the side back on the runners, and it's running smoothly and silently.

The wind has shifted direction and calmed down and the fire is burning brightly. Panic over.

P.S. - this morning we brought in the last of our stock - 12 heifers and a bull. So everything is warm and dry inside now for Winter) but not too warm, as that can lead to problems).

Monday, 2 December 2013

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

It must be winter. .

. . . we've started hedging.

Monday, 25 November 2013

The name's the same . .

. . . but -

Once a building has gained a name, it tends to stay with it for ever. For example - the "New Building" is a secondhand hen hut that we bought from near Preston in 1965. Never mind that there has been more than one new building since then.

Once upon a time kept sheep. Just before they were due to lamb we brought them inside - to a Poly Building, which became known as the "Sheep Building". But the last lambs were born in there in the spring of 2005, and the building became more multi-purpose. We have housed calves in there (though it's not ideally placed for carrying buckets of milk etc), and lately it's just been used to store "stuff". Everyone needs somewhere to put all the stuff that doesn't go anywhere else. The bigger stuff includes our caravan and a classic Mini Van. There's a saw bench and wood (sawn and ready too saw). Drainage pipes, old bikes, ride on garden mower, out of season garden chairs and much more besides. But it's still the "Sheep Building". Even Robert and Chris who don't remember the sheep, call it the Sheep Building.

The plastic sheet has been showing it's age. There were a few gaps and tears, but it was more or less weather proof. But we decided we had to either renew the sheet, or consider other (more expensive and complicated) options. We reckoned that we still needed a building for all this Stuff, so ordered a new sheet (from the original supplier). The new sheet may have still been waiting in a corner, but the strong winds last week sounded the death knell for the old plastic. By morning there was not much left. So since then we've been clearing a way down the sides (inside and out) in preparation for a fine still day. Today's the day and new sheet is going on. The Sheep Building still lives.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Another night out

Our mad social whirl continued last night, with a trip into town. We saw Glenn Tilbrook (formerly of Squeeze for those who don't know) at The Brewery. It was one the best concerts we've ever been to. One man, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and occasional keyboard. And a voice untouched by age. And an amazing back catalogue of songs, mixed in with new ones off his latest album. As well as all the Squeeze favourites (and I'd forgotten how many there were), we had Wichita Lineman and Voodoo Chile, and "Rupert" (which Glenn was particularly pleased with as he had been banned from performing it on BBC radio).

It was an exhilarating evening, with a set which seemed to be partly planned and partly made up as he went along, taking requests from the audience. We were on the front row so had an unhindered view (even of Glenn's green shoes). It's a more of a platform than a stage at The Brewery, so we felt very much part of action.

The new album is not on general sale yet, so we bought one after the concert - personally signed by the man himself (who didn't look as though he'd wowed us on stage for over an hour and a half.)

added - review from Westmorland Gazette

Friday, 22 November 2013

It's a bit early for me . . .

. . . but I'm getting organised for Christmas!

Cards printed.
All presents bought - except Henry's! I'm struggling to think of something that he wants (that I don't really want for myself).
Turkey and large joint of ham in freezer.

Still to do -
everything else!

Including -
make the cake
write the cards
test the tree lights (I think we put some away last year that didn't work).

Loads of time left!

Also done - restaurant booked for a significant December birthday. I hope there's no surprise party planned!

Monday, 18 November 2013


Today we've been giving a batch of heifers a pre-winter MOT. I hope I've got this list right - if not then blame me for not listening properly to Henry and James.

Clipped their backs, tails and ears
Cleaned the Tags
Vaccinated for IBR and BVD
Given boluses for trace elements and vitamin
Dosed for fluke and worm

All happy and healthy!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Never at home?

After our holiday last week you may be thinking we are never at home when you hear we were away again last Sunday. But in this instance we left home at 5.15 pm and were back at 10.45 am the next day. It went by so quick that I wonder if it happened at all. But of course it did - we had a wonderful night at King Georges Hall in Blackburn, experiencing the wonder that is a Bellowhead concert. Bellowhead concerts are either seated or standing, and this fortunately for me (being more than a bit decrepit) was seated. By being on the ball and quick off the mark on the day tickets went on sale, we were on the front row. There was quite a large gap between us and the stage - which came into use when the tunes got livelier and we were encouraged to get up and dance. I maybe didn't leap as high as some (or even as high as Henry, whose hips didn't seem to mind), but entered into the spirit.

I've just found this on You Tube - you won't see us as we were on the right of the stage, just in front fiddler (and bagpipe player) Sam. Not the best quality, but a reminder.

And here's review from a local paper.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Late summer holiday

Yesterday we got back from our late summer holiday - or you could call it an early winter holiday. When we went away in July we planned on at least another break away in the caravan - sometime later in summer, after 3rd cut and the bulk of heifers calving etc. But the uncertain weather meant that 3rd cut was delayed until after Westmorland Show, and the calvings kept on happening (not unexpectedly as we had planned them), so the time slipped by. The calendar seemed to have something written on every week, but it was getting colder and the days were shortening. Last week we realised it was now or never, so booked a pitch at the Caravan Club site near Grassington.

We left home just after 5 o'clock and by we got there it was pitch black. We drove round the site a couple of times trying to identify a good pitch, though the direction of the sun would be irrelevant (we didn't expect to be sitting out, but had packed two garden chairs "just in case"). Setting up in the dark and cold (very cold) was a bit different to doing it in warm daylight, but we were organised and soon had the door shut and the heater switched on (still with warm clothes on). We put our M & S meal in the oven (secondary heating) and plugged the television into the aerial socket on the bollard and waited for it to tune in. We got a brief picture before the screen went off, leaving us with sound only. We had had this problem earlier in the year when we first got this television out of storage (in the caravan) and almost consigned it to the tip, but after a week in the house it returned to normal. We assumed it had suffered with the cold over winter. I hadn't thought it had been unduly cold yet this year, but it must be very sensitive. We had taken some DVDs as an alternative to the TV, but of course these didn't have any picture either. Backup plan A - watch a DVD on the laptop - OK for about 15 minutes then it froze (DVD fault probably). Backup plan B - music from the Ipod (docked in the TV) and Sunday papers, glass of fizz and supper.

Despite having to get up in the night to add another duvet to the bed (a hot spare) we had a good night and by we looked out on Monday morning the sun was shining. After a late breakfast (bacon sandwiches and proper coffee) we went for a ride out, not following a map or listening to the Sat Nav, but turning left or right on a whim when we came to a signpost. We were never really lost and eventually arrived back near Skipton so had a late lunch at The Bull at Broughton. We tried the television on and off (mainly off) and eventually the picture stayed on. Moral of the story - keep it in the house and try it before we go away. We also realised it we rely on it more in the cold dark months when we can't sit outside and read (or in Henry's case, sleep).

On Tuesday we had a plan - to drive part of the route of next year's Tour de France (starting in Yorkshire - click here). This was part of our reason for coming to Grassington. The campsite is on the route and we hope to book in there for Le Tour (but Caravan Club 2014 bookings don't open till 4th December!). We drove up the road to Hawes, marvelling how not only the cyclists, but all the publicity and support vehicles will get through some of the narrow roads and villages. We had hoped to see the creamery at Hawes in action, but it was a non-cheesemaking day, so had to be content with sampling (and buying) lots of different cheeses.

Back at the caravan we made the most of having no plans or timetable to keep to, and had another relaxing evening.

Wednesday we had another late breakfast and packed up. We had taken too many clothes and too much food, so we emptied the cupboards and bagged it up as we prepare to put the caravan away for the winter. Getting away when the stock is inside is difficult and we know the next trip will probably be next May.

There is another night way though - on Sunday we are going to see Bellowhead at Blackburn and living it up in a Premier Inn!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Happy Birthday


Saturday, 2 November 2013

In for winter

For the past fortnight the milk cows have been going round all the pastures. There's still grass for them, but underfoot it's getting wetter. This past week they've been going out for half the day, but today that has come to an end. They went out after milking, but we've now brought them inside. They've plenty of room to wander about or lie down in their individual cubicles on comfy mattresses, and they see the sun (or not) when they come up to the parlour twice a day, but there'll be no more grass beneath their feet till turnout next Spring.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Plug and Play, or Fiddling About

Yesterday we got a new Sky Box. Urged on by members of our family who had managed to get a good deal from Sky (i.e. more stuff for the same price), I rang up and tried my luck. I think the key bit I missed out was to say I was thinking of cancelling. Instead I tried to get something as a reward for loyalty (the best offers are always for new customers). But loyalty doesn't really count. Maybe I should have tried the "poor pensioner on a fixed income" ploy. We did get something though - a new box - flashier looking, more storage and WiFi enabled (to access catch-up services), so it's not true to say my phone call was fruitless.

I got word that the box had been dispatched and should be with us in the ubiquitous 3 - 5 working days. A week later nothing. I rang Sky who gave me the carrier details. When I phoned them they seemed to have difficulty understanding that there was no street line in our address. I assured them we did exist and gave them our phone number in case the courier got lost in the wilds of Old Hutton.

So, the box arrived with very clear detailed instructions how to connect it. This was the worrying bit. Seventeen years ago when we had the house rewired, we also had television cables put in and sockets in all the rooms (except the bathroom), and the wiring behind the kitchen television where it all stems from resembles a bowl of spaghetti rather than the nice neat diagram in the manual. It's also rather (very) dusty re the Aga and out-of-sight-out-of-mind. We carefully cleared a path and gently moved the stand. We disconnected one cable at a time and discovered I had been very far-sighted and labelled some of them. There are more cables and wires than we use now (I don't know why), so we taped them together to avoid undue confusion. We connected the new cables and gently pushed everything back into place. I also checked that the television still worked in the sitting room (so we hadn't disturbed the house cables).

Now all we had to due was follow the instructions on software updates, activation and WiFi etc and we were good to go.

When I rang Sky re a better deal I was given a month's free subscription to the Movie channels. But try as I might, I have not really found any films I wanted to watch. I did record a few children's ones for rainy day childminding, but these would have been lost when we swapped boxes. But we have an old hard drive recorder/DVD player from analogue days, so by logical thinking and correct cabling I managed to copy over the recordings I wanted to keep. Last night this didn't seem possible with the new setup (it's all HDMI now, and my old recorder is Scart), but a bit more fiddling about this afternoon and I'm copying "Batman and Robin". When we come to the end of our month's Movie trial all Movie recordings will be lost - except for those I've copied onto another device. My small victory over Sky.

edit - just added this rather apt link - click here

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Chelford sale report

Click here for the press release from Frank Marshall's auctioneers.

And to whet your appetite - here's a few extracts -

Leading the trade at 2600gns was the January 2011 born heifer Strickley Charlotte 2nd, from
Cumbria Breeders Messrs. Robinson. Although on the Society’s Grading Register and not a full
pedigree, she is by the exciting bull Nejay Amazon and out of the 9,700 kg Strickley Charlotte.
This fully organic herd, from a four year TB testing area, has produced some outstanding quality
heifers in recent years and Charlotte 2nd was the subject of lively bidding, before being knocked
down to C.D. Malkin of Stone, Staffordshire.

Messrs. Malkin were also in for Strickley Oak Barrington 29th, at 2250gns, another daughter of
Nejay Amazon, this one out of the 8500 kg the Strickley Oak Barrington 4th. This Nejay Amazon
bred Heifer, showed great depth in udder and again attracted bidding from a number of

The Reserve Champion and leading heifer in milk came from the Strickley Herd
of Messrs. Robinson. Strickley Tricia 7th, by Strickley Perfect Ten made 1950gns to Messrs. Malkin of Stone.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Thank you

James has just got back from the Dairy Shorthorn 2013 Annual Autumn Show & Sale. We took three newly calved heifers and are very pleased with how they were received.

I'm sure a full report will be available on Frank Marshall's website in due course, but in the meantime

Strickley Tricia 7th was Champion Heifer and Reserve overall.
Strickley Charlotte 2nd achieved the best price of the day.
Strickley Oak Barrington 29th was the second best price.

So, many thanks to everyone who supported the sale, and especially to our purchasers and I hope they do well for you.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Last night

Last night we went to The Brewery Arts Centre. Months ago I bought tickets for Midge Ure, not really sure what to expect, but thinking it was an opportunity not to be missed. How glad I was that I did. It was an uplifting amazing gig. His voice seemed stronger than ever and soared around the room. I would have said "to the rafters" - but the rafters in The Malt Room are not very high. It was just one man, a guitar and a voice. Armed with a set of songs I had forgotten I knew. I like to be near the front - especially at The Brewery which is not raked seating, and has pillars to block the view from some seats - and by early booking we were in the middle of the front row.

I took a few photos of the set etc, but none during the performance - it would have been too distracting and off putting. It was a very simple set - a microphone stand and a guitar.

This is Henry's feet to show how near we were.

The set list was typed in large print and laid on the floor.

The set for the support (Steve Rodgers) was a bit fancier.

We arrived in plenty of time, so had a drink in the bar first. Maybe we should have done what a couple at the end of our row did - they had an ice bucket and champagne (two bottles - not that I was counting) - during the performance.
And a slight moan or two - why must venues put back the doors opening time, when you've given up your seat in the bar and are standing in the foyer. And why must a large party in the row behind us talk among themselves during the performance.
But neither of those issues detracted from a very good night out.

Friday, 18 October 2013

A busy time ahead

The main event is the Shorthorn Society's Annual Show & Sale at Chelford - click here for the catalogue. Don't forget you can also get in touch with us (see contact tab) for information about the Strickley heifers.

The heifers are all halter trained, washed and clipped ready for James to take them down on Sunday night. They'll have the chance to settle overnight  and James will have time to give them a final wash in the morning before the Show at 09:00.

Henry and James are busy getting everything ready for the stock (and James) - feed, bedding, Show Box etc. The Landrover will be packed to capacity.

Sunday will be a long day for James as straight after morning milking he's going on a First Responders advanced course and will get home just in time to drive down to Chelford.

As we're so busy (it's monthly accounts time for me) I had an Asda delivery instead of going shopping. I know I haven't got everything I want, (it's different looking at pictures online, and I like to buy meat from Booths or a butchers), but I did get some bargains.

e.g. strange pricing of Clover (used extensively in my baking)
500 g for £2.00
1 kilo for £2.00.

Guess which I bought 5 tubs of?

And it must be getting nearer to Christmas - large boxes of Jacobs "Biscuits for Cheese" are back in stock. Does no one eat many crackers from January to October?

But - time to relax tonight - Midge Ure at The Brewery. Do you know who he is? Do you remember Ultravox? Yesterday I went to see my old colleagues at Lakeland (armed with home made biscuits). I told them about my exciting social life (i.e. upcoming gigs). Blank looks from the 30-something boys. "He was in Ultavox" - "no", says one "this means nothing to me". He looked a bit amazed when one of the "girls" spread her arms wide and sang "Oh Vienna. . . " Out of the mouths of babes.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Seasonal work

Signs that it is definitely Autumn and that Winter is just round the corner -

Spreading slurry while it is fine; no doubt there will be times in a wet winter that we are glad we had kept on top of it.

Washing off machinery that won't be used till next Spring - mower, rake etc

Sawing and splitting logs to keep the home fires burning.

But - the weather has been good to us this year - all the stock is still outside (though the milk cows do stay inside at night.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Friday, 11 October 2013

For Sale

For the catalogue, and to read details of the four Strickley new calved heifers,
They are all fully organic and we are TB free in a TB4 area. If anyone wants to know any more details of the stock, or of any of our other cattle, just get in touch with us (see the Contact tab on the Blog).
Strickley Charlotte 2nd

Strickley Goldie 212nd

Strickley Tricia 7th

Strickley Oak Barrington 29th.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Still busy

The rush of summer work may be over, but it's still very busy at Strickley. In fact it seems even busier.

School visits are once again in full swing, plus Michelle has been doing some "Outreach" sessions in schools. So far this term we've had orienteering, ice cream making and bread making. The classroom has also been used for slightly older "students"- yesterday our Vets ran a course here on Heifer Calf Rearing.

Calving is still well under way. We've more heifers calving this year as we've had a bit of a clear out of older unproductive cows, so the age of the herd has changed a bit. New calved heifers can be a bit of a problem when they first come into the milking parlour and we try to make sure they don't all come in one after another. Like young mothers they need to get used to it. We're up to 95 milking now, so gradually the working day is getting longer.

The weather is also changing, overnight the windchill was down to 0.8, and now at 8 degrees it's bright and sunny, but coolish. Maybe I'll light the kitchen wood burner tonight.

It's not all work though. I've been doing a stock take of the stuff in our safe - there's tickets for nine gigs with the first ones coming up next week! Most of them are at The Brewery in Kendal, so we don't have to travel far.

Next week we've got Midge Ure (couldn't resist) and BBC Radio Two Young Folk Awards (free!) at the Brewery, and next month Bellowhead at Blackburn (a night of luxury in a Premier Inn) and Glenn Tilbrook at The Brewery (especially for Henry). Then in December it's Show of Hands at the Brewery. Next Spring we already have tickets for Oysterband and two Spiers & Boden gigs.

Who needs big stadiums!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Out of the mouths of babes . .

Henry to grandson Robert - "Look, Grandma's bought a Kindle".

Robert to me - "Why would you do that? You could just read a book?"

I wonder where he heard that . . . . .

Friday, 4 October 2013

More from the show

Yesterday Henry picked up copies of some photographs that were taken at the Westmorland County Show last month (see the Blog if you've forgotten about it already). They were taken by a Show Society photography, so I must acknowledge that they're not mine.

The first ones are taken in the cattle tent - hence the warm yellowy glow - when HRH The Countess of Wessex came to talk to us.



James, Michelle, Robert and Chris being presented with the Strickley Cup

Happy Birthday!


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Nearly forgot . .

Amongst all the hustle and bustle of silaging yesterday, five heifers calved!

Friday, 27 September 2013

And sudenly it's all over

Just when you think the weather is bound to turn against us, the last load comes into the pit.

There's still two fields mown that will be big baled, but that's for tomorrow (I think) - and it doesn't involves lots of tractor drivers.

Not the 5000. . .

. . . just 5

(re yesterday's post)

Tractors and trailers are once again rumbling through the yard.

One disadvantage of silaging late in the year, is the length of the days. Henry was in by 8 o'clock last night as it was way too dark to carry on.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Lost contacts

James' rugged phone has been slowly dying and last week he got a new smarter one. He's been gradually transferring all his stored numbers, (not as easy as it was expected to be). But now the old phone has finally given up the ghost, still hoarding about half the numbers.

So, on the off chance that you're reading this and are likely to be one of James' contacts (especially if your name/surname/nick name/company begins with M - Z) can you please text him your number (his is the same), or email us at Strickley.

Thank you

Plans come and go and I can't keep up

After getting the first 35 acres of grass in the pit, we held off mowing any more because of the poor weather forecast. But in reality it wasn't as bad as expected, so we've now mown another 55 acres and will start picking up tonight. Unless something happens that I don't know about. I think I ought to be prepared for someone to come to the door and say "can you feed the 5000 in 10 minutes?"

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

More looking back

Today was the funeral of my dad's brother Bill. The Shaw family have never kept in touch with each other in the way the Robinsons have, so my memories go back a long way, then start to fade out. But as you will have realised I'm a bit of a Family History obsessive, so I have been rummaging among boxes of snapshots to bridge the gap.

Bill (William) was born in 1929 and he's here in this small grainy snapshot taken in 1939 with his brothers Stan (my dad), Norman and Jack. They were living on Castle Grove.

And here in 1954
And just to be self indulgent, here's the bridesmaid!
And finally, fast forward to 1970 and our wedding

I'm sorry now that I don't have any more.

Halfway there

The contractor has just come into the yard to "diesel up", which means we're finishing this batch of silaging. We've been studying various weather sites and looking at the odd bit of seaweed, and in the end erred on the side of caution and only cut about 40 acres. One of the problems has been the complete lack of wind, with the growing grass not getting much of a chance to dry off and the cut grass not much of a chance to wilt.

The 40 acres has produced a very good crop and now James has to roll and level before we sheet it up.

And then when we've caught our breath, we have to do it all again with the remaining 40 acres.

And then, maybe, just maybe, Henry and I can have a few days away in the caravan. But where? To be decided when/if it happens.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Looking forward and looking back.

At last it seems that we may be getting three consecutive fine days. While we haven't had a lot of rain this past week, it has been damp and miserable. The grass is ready to cut for 3rd cut silage, but too wet to start. And after checking the forecast on Friday we got the mower out to grease up and get ready. But, with a rattle and a bang fate intervened. A vital bit (a chain?) had broken. This last broke in 2008 and Henry and I dashed off to near Preston to get a replacement. But this year there was no time for that; the grass is ready to be cut. So later today a local contractor will start mowing our 80 acres and hopefully it will all be in the pit by the weather changes again.

Today Henry took me on a drive out. Nowhere really scenic, though it does have it's own tourist sign - "The Furness Peninsula". Shorthorns are known for their longevity, but there is still an inevitable end. We took three elderly cows to a local abattoir. The eldest, Strickley Goldie 132nd is over thirteen and had 10 productive lactations. I'm not really sure where the meat goes from such cows. Do I want to know?

It was also a chance to look back at my roots - my paternal grandfather (Wilfred Shaw) was born in 1901 nearby. His father (John Dixon Shaw), at the time of the 1901 census is listed as an Iron Ore Worker. They lived in a house on what is now the main A590 and with the wonders of Google Street View I could find it. Not a very exciting picture. I don't think the traffic lights and white lines were there in 1901.

And here's a photo of me, my father, grandfather (Wilfred), great grandfather (John) taken in 1952.

I've been looking back quite a bit this week. Compared to the Robinsons I don't have many relatives. Family sizes seem to have got smaller with each generation. I am an only child, as was my mother. My father had three brothers, but one died in the war and another never married. For one reason or another I've not had much contact with the family I do have, and Henry and I had talked about getting in touch with those we knew. My father's surviving brother, Bill Shaw, died last week and so we will meet up with the rest of the family. But a funeral is not what we had planned.

Monday, 16 September 2013

After Kendal Show

In our minds Kendal Show (Westmorland County Show to give it it's proper title) marks the end of summer and the onset of at least Autumn, if not Winter.

The Show was last Thursday and yesterday we lit the wood burning stove in the kitchen for the first time. Admittedly it was a bit hot by the end of the night, but the wind and rain in the morning made it almost inevitable. And today for dinner it wasn't cold ham and cheese but beef casserole.

And this morning Henry ignored his shorts in favour of jeans.

But, the real sign that "nights are drawing in etc" is leaving the cows in overnight. So no going down the fields for them tomorrow morning, but an extra job to do last thing at night when we check that they're all OK.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Recovering from the Show

Yesterday was Westmorland County Show. Strickley Robinsons have been showing there since 1875 and stashed away with all our other archives are various Prize Cards. As well as exhibiting the family has always been involved with the running of the show as members of committees and in 1989 Henry's father was President.

The final preparations for this year's show began on Wednesday when the cows were washed and trimmed to show them off to their best. The show field is only six miles away, so in the afternoon Henry and James took down the straw, feed, show box, chairs, folding bed and other paraphernalia and got our stalls ready. Then after milking James took the four cows down. Most of the stock was on the field by then, so there was plenty of company for pre-show socialising. He was up early washing the cows and getting them looking their best. By 4.30 Henry was also up at home getting the cows in for milking. I'm not sure they appreciated being woken up in the dark. I did get a bit of a sleep in, but only until 5.30. And by 7.30 we too were on our way.

Judging in the cattle classes started at 9.00 and the stewards did a wonderful job in getting the right cattle into the right rings at the right time. Dairy Shorthorns shared a ring with the Jerseys - alternating classes, so there was time to take one lot of cattle back to the tent and bring the next out. I was at the ringside with my camera and took a lot of photographs - not all of which show the cow and the handler to the best advantage. I tend to click more in hope than expectation. So please bear that in mind when looking at this small selection of images.

The judge Edward Crank from Cheshire had some good classes to judge from several local, and not so local, breeders.

This is Strickley Lily 15th which was placed first in the Heifer in Milk class, and won the Ciba Geigy Cup for Junior Champion.

These three Strickley in milk cows and heifers won the John Handley Memorial Trophy for the best group of three animals

And here is Lily 15th again receiving her rosette for Best Exhibitor Bred Dairy Shorthorn.

The overall Dairy Shorthorn Champion was Jonathan Fisher's Marleycote Barrington Iris 15th. I'm sorry I missed getting a decent photograph. I'm sure there will be one on the Society's website in the next few days.

After the judging visitors started to come into the cattle tents (access is restricted during judging for H & S reasons). We had tried our best to keep our cattle lines and ourselves as clean and tidy as possible as we knew that HRH The Countess of Wessex was visiting the cattle tent. Once again I tried to get some good photographs but was somewhat thwarted by official photographers in front of me.

And then, after the Interbreed judging, milking the cows and snatching a bit of dinner, there was time for a quick visit to some of the trade stands, and to look at the Schools' Tent. Some of us took the time to relax.

The Grand Parade was scheduled for 3.00, and wasn't too late. There was a very impressive array of stock that stretched right round the main ring, with almost every breed represented. Speeches were made and cups presented for the breed champions and general farm classes. When Henry's father died in 1996 the family presented a cup to the society for a class in his memory. And this year Strickley won the Strickley Cup for
"Working farmers and landowners who have done the most to
further environmental sustainability and protection and the ideals
of conservation in keeping with local conditions and the environment."

So now it's all over for this year. Henry and James are emptying the Land Rover and washing out the trailer. And me? I'm the one recovering - from when a cow stood on my foot. The moral of the story is wear steel toe capped boots. Not 25 year old Brashers.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Judgement Day

A brace of judges at Strickley this weekend.

Last night/this morning we had the judge for the North West Dairy Shorthorn Herd Competition (who saw some very wet cows, the weather not being in our favour).

And this afternoon we have the judge for Class 2 of the Westmorland County Show - to quote the schedule -

Working farmers and landowners who have done the most to
further environmental sustainability and protection and the ideals
of conservation in keeping with local conditions and the environment
And today the local conditions are wet. Maybe it will fair up soon.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Happy Birthday!

(and for a treat it's back to school . . . )

Saturday, 31 August 2013


Ten years ago while builders were working on James' house, they helped with building up and renovating our kitchen fireplace. Following his instincts of always buy the biggest and best, Henry chose the largest woodburning stove possible. Since then it has worked tirelessly, keeping not only the kitchen warm (aka hot) and spreading heat throughout the rest of the house. We never really thought about maintenance (apart from riddling and emptying etc), but when we looked at it a few weeks ago it was obvious that time and heat had taken it's toll. So with the wonders of the Internet we bought a new Baffle Plate and Rear Fire Brick. The engineering involved was not so much precise and delicate as heavy handed, involving strong men and thick planks (no comments please!). It's all back together again and should burn even brighter and hotter. I ought to have taken a photo when the inside was exposed, but of course forget to. So here are some photos from 2003 (pre Blog) of it's transformation from seventies fireplace to the focal point of the room.


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Back From The Show

 . . . and well done to everyone (cows, men, women and children).

Today was Grayrigg Show and Strickley was well represented in several sections. It's not just a livestock show (though sheep do feature heavily), but has classes for Produce, Photography, Handicrafts and Children (not that you are allowed to exhibit children - just their work).

We took three cows (2 cows in milk and a heifer in milk). The Dairy classes are interbreed and were keenly contested. We came home with two cups (Reserve Champion and  group of three), and an assortment of rosettes (including Best Pair and three firsts). And not forgetting small brown envelopes with cash in. (Not a lot, but the entry fee is only £1 an entry).

Robert and Chris have been busy this past week with their entries in the Collage,  Potato Head and picture classes; and both also came home with envelopes of money (free entry).

At the moment I've no photos of any of these successes, but here are James' prizewinning entries in the Photography section. I'm not sure of the top of my head what won what (or was second), but James also has a stash of Little Brown Envelopes.

And finally - these are large files and may take some time to display - but I wanted to do them justice.

Best Coloured Snapshot depicting a season

Best Coloured Snapshot of a view taken in the society's district

Best Snapshot of an animal or animals

Best Snapshot of child or children

Best any other snapshot

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Well done Elliot . . .

with passing
GCSE Biology
a year early
Onwards and upwards to next year now!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


16 acres
170 tonnes
300 litres diesel (200 for chopper and 2 x 50 for carting tractors)
4 hours

While the weather holds. . . .

. . more winter feed is filling the silage pit. Earlier this year we continued our practise of sowing three fields for "wholecrop". This year it was barley and peas, undersown with grass. Today the contractor has come with a huge specialist forage harvester and cut and chopped (all in one) the wholecrop. It's coming in by the trailer load and James is loading onto the rapidly filling silage pit. I haven't any photos (yet) as the fields aren't quite as handy this year (one on The Lots and then Front and Back Bank). I'm told that there's a very good crop of grass underneath, so we've plenty of grazing for this year, and next year the grass should do even better. All organic seed of course and only fed with slurry and FYM.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


The past two days have been a bit wet - over 3 inches in about 36 hours. After the rain stopped yesterday we were out in force with cameras. There had been a lot of rain, and the becks were running fast and overflowing and finding there own way across the fields, but we've seen it a lot worse. In February 2004 we had worse flooding. This was Before The Weather Station, so we've no figures, just photographs taken in similar places to use as comparison


 In February all of the stock (apart from sheep which we still had) were inside and warm and dry. This year we moved a few calves whose grazing was getting smaller and smaller, and some could see the rising water and moved onto drier ground themselves (though it was not very deep).
Smaller creatures also knew when to climb above the water.

© James Robinson 2013
© James Robinson 2013

And finally, from the safety of our car I took a short video with my phone. Hardly the world's best film, but it shows the speed the water was flowing.