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 . . . )