Monday, 15 December 2014

Good News, Bad News

The good news - Claire has passed her driving test.
The bad news? - Rob has a "radial head fracture" (broken elbow)
The good news - he has a chauffeuse!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Herd Competition

Last night was the Annual Dinner for the North West Regional Association of Shorthorn Breeders. This was a good night held at The Lowther Castle Inn at Hackthorpe. After the meal,as the final raffle tickets were sold, the President of The Shorthorn Society, Neil Madeley gave a short encouraging talk, exhorting us to continue to take every opportunity to publicise  the breed and to register all our animals, The herds had been judged in September by Basil Lawson, and he gave a brief talk of his tour round our region and presented trophies and prize cards to the winners. We returned two cups from last year, and came away with three (plus two raffle prizes), so it was a good night out for us. And in bed just before one in the morning. The alarm at 5.30 seemed far too soon.

Here's the full list of results in the various classes. And apologies - as I copied and pasted a Word document, the formatting may be a bit odd.





1st       Whitchester Herd                             C Hall
2nd     Winbrook Herd                                 G  A & D W Dent
3rd      Brafell Herd                                       J Teasdale & Son
4th      Strickley Herd                                   Messrs Robinson


1st       Briscoll Herd                                     Mrs I Coulthard
2nd     Beaconview Herd                            J Handley
3rd      Moorriggs Herd                                 P Armstrong
4th      Irthingelt Herd                                   T Moscrop


1st       Parton Herd                                      Messrs Hewson
2nd     Winbrook Herd                                 G A & D W Dent
3rd      Brafell Herd                                       J Teasdale & Son
4th      Strickley Herd                                   Messrs Robinson


1st       Oakthwaite Herd                              M J & J A Dobson
2nd     Moorriggs Herd                                 P Armstrong
3rd      Beaconview Herd                            J Handley
4th      Newpark Herd                                  D Craig


1st       Winbrook Vi 143rd                           G A & D W Dent
2nd     Strickley Starbud 54th                     Messrs Robinson
3rd      Tahuna Dewdrop                             D Jackson
4th      Moorriggs Sparkle 7th                     P Armstrong


1st       Strickley Goldie 217th                     Messrs Robinson
2nd     Moorriggs Lady Barrington 3rd         P Armstrong
3rd      Beaconview Annabella 3rd              J Handley
4th      Screel Erin 3rd                                 S Wilson


1st       Briscoll Graceful Lady 7th              Mrs I Coulthard
2nd     Winbrook Foggarthorpe Lass 5th G A & D W Dent
3rd      Strickley Starbud 48th                     Messrs Robinson
4th      Brafell Molly 8th                               J Teasdale & Son


1st       Bishopsbrae Royal Appeal                        C Hall
2nd     Panorama Aramis                            J Handley
3rd      Winbrook Marmaduke                     G A & D W Dent
4th      Llandovery Jinny's Empire             Messrs Robinson


1st       Middlebankend Digger                    N Barker
2nd     Brafell Royal Lad                             J Teasdale & Son
3rd      Winbrook Pedro                               G A & D W Dent
4th      Nejay Errol                                        Messrs Robinson


1st       Nejay Errol                                        Messrs Robinson
2nd     Middlebankend Digger                      N Barker
3rd      Winbrook Pedro                                G A & D W Dent
4th      Brafell Royal Lad                               J Teasdale & Son


1st       Winbrook Peeress Rose                 G A & D W Dent
2nd     Strickley Goldie 198th                     Messrs Robinson
3rd      Kenprest Lady Hermione 19th        J Teasdale & Son
4th      Parton Perry Blossom 13th              Messrs Hewson


1st       Strickley Goldie 198th                     Messrs Robinson
2nd     Winbrook Peeress Rose                 G A & D W Dent
3rd      Kenprest Lady Hermione 19th        J Teasdale & Son
4th      Parton Perry Blossom 13th              Messrs Hewson


1st       Kenprest Lady Hermione 19th      J Teasdale & Son
2nd     Dunham Margaret 122nd               Mrs I Coulthard
3rd      Oxton Foggathorpe 677th              T Moscrop
4th      Newpark Barbara                            D Craig


Monday, 8 December 2014

Just a quick note

I know that I've been very lax in Blogging lately (where does the time go?) - but a quick note, and an aide memoire for us, today all the rest of the stock came inside for winter. All the counting, contemplating and calculating worked out as we still have an empty pen!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Monday, 10 November 2014

Winter is upon us . .

 . . we started hedging today (at the top of the lane for those who want to see us in action)

Remembering my Grandfather

My maternal Grandfather, Isaac Edward Blamire, was born in 1902, the eighth of eleven children. He was born in Castle Carrock, but by 1911 was living in Kendal on Windermere Road. In 1923 he married Jessie Garnett and they had one daughter, my mother Marjorie.

For much of his working life he was the caretaker of The Provincial Insurance Company at Sand Aire House, living in at one point, what seemed to me as a young child, a wonderful flat on the top floor of the building, and later at Melrose Place. Despite living and working in town he was a countryman at heart and my first visits to Kendal Auction were with him in school holidays.

He never served in the First World war but was called up at the end of 1941. He was passed as fit by the Medical Board

and in January 1942 was  sent out to the war in the East.

He didn't come home again until 1946.

He was a prisoner of the Japanese and despite what may have been written on postcards supposedly sent by the prisoners, suffered deprivation and hardship.

Before repatriation he was sent to India to recuperate and convalesce. He was then able to write home for the first time 

first page of a long letter

He had missed my mother's wedding, but was there for my Christening in 1948. Seen here with my Godmother Alice (Isaac's sister) on the top Sand Aire House.

After the war his life returned to normal, working at the Provincial until he retired and he and Jessie moved into a house on Hallgarth. My Grandmother Jessie died in 1977 and my Grandfather in 1982. 

Great Grandchildren Victoria, James and Robert with Granda Ike summer 1982

There are lots of reasons while I'll never forget him, but among the most light hearted are - 

Growing so many raspberries on his allotment that I could have them for breakfast.
Teaching me to swim.
Getting a liking for curry whilst in India and having Nan make it (whose recipe I have).

Isaac Edward Blamire
1902 - 1982
Remembered today and always.

Monday, 3 November 2014

I think I've got it right this time . . .

. . . the cows are staying inside today (and for the rest of the winter). Unless someone here knows differently and I see them walking past the window.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Update - we have made it to the end of the month!

Contrary to what I was told this morning - the cows have been out enjoying the sun and the grass in Strickley Hill and Wellbank.

Not quite made it to November . . .

. . . but the milk cows are not going out today. The sun is (currently) shining so they're probably getting themselves ready for the trek down the track to the grass, but we're allocating it to other stock.

So, there's more feeding and mucking out - but no 40 minutes of fetching them in from our farthest fields.

Roll on Spring!

P.S - it's only 55 days till Christmas!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A belated "Thank you"

I'm sorry I never posted this at the weekend - but Thank You Very Much to our buyers at the Beeston Sale. I hope they do well for you - and remember we usually have stock for sale - so get in touch!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Strickley Organic Dairy Shorthorns for sale tomorrow

Tomorrow is the Annual Autumn Show and Sale of The Dairy Shorthorn Society. This year it has moved from Chelford to Beeston Castle Auction. We are taking two newly calved heifers and two second calvers. All have been pre-movement TB tested (and we are in a 4 year parish).

You can see all the details in the catalogue - click here - we are Lots 4, 5, 15 and 17.

James is taking them down this evening and will be with them to answer any questions. He has been taking photos in the parlour this morning - see his Twitter account - this link should take you there. Or just go to Twitter and search for @JRfromStrickley.

And while James is spending the evening with our four lovely ladies, Henry and I will be at Kendal Brewery Arts Centre for a Faustus gig . Surprisingly there are still tickets available - so if you're not having an early night before heading of to the sale, get into town!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Recipe for today. . .

. . . when today is wet and windy and no one goes outside unless they have to (e.g. farmers and cows).


all measurements and timings are very approximate -

Chop finely (by hand or Magimix)

      300 gm streaky bacon
      1 onion
      2 old carrots almost best their best
      thick slice of home made seedy bread

Tip into large mixing bowl and add

      1 kg mince
      500 gm good sausage meat
      several sploshes of Worcestershire Sauce
      some dried herbs - whatever you like
      stock cube
      1 egg (doesn't matter if you forget and find it on the table later in the morning)

Get one hand in among it and mix well, squidging through you fingers.

Plonk into two loaf tins (or one loaf tin and one large deep pie plate).
Squash down.
Cover with foil.

Cook in the top oven of the Aga for about an hour, then in the bottom oven for about another hour.

Have one hot for dinner - with mashed potato and a good savoury brown sauce (recipe on application), with leftovers in sandwiches for supper.
Freeze the other for another rainy day.

Ready for the oven


Saturday, 4 October 2014

A Wet and Windy Night

The wind blew strongly overnight and the rain started in earnest about 4.30 am. And by now (7.45 am) there's already been more rain today than in the whole of September. But at least the milking cows were warm and dry as we laid them in for the first time last night. I'm sure they appreciated it. They'll be going out during the day for a while yet, but this marks the start of the farm's winter. There will gradually be more mucking out and feeding inside and less checking stock out in the fields, as different groups come inside.

Last night was also the start of Winter in the Strickley kitchen - we lit the big wood burner. It was maybe a bit too hot so we moved farther and farther away from it, but I think it started a trend and we'll be lighting it again later today.

And finally,

8 today!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

At last another post!

It seems a long time since I posted anything on our Blog, and would hate for anyone to think we haven't been busy!
If I had to choose three words to sum up the past few weeks, it would probable be - 


This year the grass has kept on growing and growing. We've made two good cuts of clamp silage, and another good cut of big bales. The grass has not stopped growing, and the cows are never going to get round it all so twice we've had the mower out "for the last time" and added to our stack of bales. I think it's now ready to be washed off and put away till next May.

Some years the cows have been inside by now, especially at night, but the really really low rainfall (only a quarter of an inch so far this month) has meant no poaching of gateways etc and they are enjoying being outside. This week we're grazing a field a bit farther along the road - so apologies to anyone we hold up as the cows walk along. With hi-viz jackets and a flasher on the bike we're easily seen.

The photo was taken by James, who was waiting to turn the cows into the field, so he had time to Tweet. For more relevant and up to date farming thoughts and photos, why not follow him on Twitter? Clicking here ought to work. You may also get the odd Tweet about Manchester United (but I can't help that). 

At night the cows are also grazing a long way from the buildings, but down the fields. Henry has had to fix a bright light on the bike and take a spot light to find them in the early hours (5.45). I'm got sure if they appreciate getting up in the dark.

We've about come to the end of our busy calving period, so hopefully we won't be woken up so much by calving cows bawling just outside our bedroom window (at least, that's what it sounds like).

All this grass and the calvings lead the the third word - milk. Every day the tank is a bit fuller. I hope it's big enough.

The prolonged dry spell has meant we can keep on top of rush control. As organic farmers we don't use sprays, so we cut them off - with a Topper. We've been able to get on usually wet fields and yesterday James spread slurry on newly topped fields. The idea is, I'm told, that the grass is given a boost and grows ahead of the rushes.

Yesterday was a day to rely on old and new recourses. Electricity North West are replacing poles round here and we were forewarned that the power would be off from 9 till 5.  I hadn't realised how dark it was inside until the lights went out. The milk was already cooled by 9 and when it was collected later in the morning, and temperature tested, was still cold. We have two UPS's in the house in case of unexpected power cuts. One is for the computer, and the other for the router (unfortunately not near enough to use the same one). I know they work seamlessly (tested in anger a few times), but the battery doesn't hold out forever, so I switched the computer off. I left the router UPS on, so we had Wifi for phones and Ipad etc. It lasted 4 hours, which I think is pretty good. Money well spent. More money was well spent a few years ago on a decent generator. So before we started milking we connected it up and flicked the switch to change form Mains to "Genny" and power was restored. The only trouble is, it's very noisy in the house as the tractor driving it is just outside the window.

And no electric doesn't mean we are cold or hungry - the Aga may be nearly as old as me, but being solid fuel provides heat, hot water and cooker whatever else is happening.

EDIT - please don't get the wrong idea about the "flasher" on the bike - it's not too alarming or scary - just a bright orange light!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

"Best two days of my life!"

. . . that was the verdict of young Robert last night.

On Thursday it was Westmorland County Show. As usual it involved a lot of preparation in getting the cows looking their best, and gathering together all the kit and feed etc. But it was worth it as a record crowd was able to see the sun shining on a good line up of Dairy Shorthorns. The judge Seimon Thomas from South Wales picked David Dent's Winbrook Wren 2nd as the breed champion, and Strickley Starbud 48th as reserve.

But for Robert the excitement came in first showing the maiden heifer Strickley Starlet 133rd, which was placed first in its class and in then entering the Junior Dairy Handling. All the practising round the yard . . .

must have paid off as he was placed first. He was even photographed and interviewed by a local newspaper.

I think Robert and Chris also relished the chance to escape from the cattle tent and wander round the Showfield with their friends and with money in their pockets. They came back with empty pockets while Henry and James only managed to spend £3.50 each (bacon buns).

Friday was back to school - along with trophy and rosettes. I expect the school bus felt like a victory parade by a Championship winning football team.

Day Two culminated in Kendal Torchlight Carnival. Old Hutton school joined with Bendrigg Lodge
in a float, and Robert and Chris walked round the route as a two- headed alien. I hope I may have some photographs, but cameras sometimes jam at the wrong time.

And I must mention James and  The First Responders who decked out our trailer with large red heart shaped balloons, and to the sounds of "Stayin' Alive" demonstrated the importance of CPR so well, that a nearby policeman was about to call 999.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

That's it!

Final batch of bales for this year  - 175 (and mostly carted and stacked)

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

And so it continues . .

Third Cut underway - tractors and machines coming and going through the yard. The sun is shining and the temperature's rising - you might almost think it was summer!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

100 Years Ago

In 1875 Henry and Abigail Robinson moved into Strickley with their young family. Henry's Dad has written about how it came about that they got he tenancy of the farm - see here on our website. The family grew to eleven children and many grandchildren.

In September of 1914 they all gathered at Strickley to celebrate Henry and Abigail's Golden Wedding. All the children and their wives were present, and three of the grandchildren. The occasion was marked by a formal photograph in front of the porch. They all look remarkedley composed - no one is pulling silly faces, and even the dog is looking at the camera! The names in bold below are Henry and Abigail's children

Earlier this month we managed to get all of the present Strickley family together and thought we would recreate the photo.

There are obvious similarities and differences!
The house and porch, and even the drain pipes are unchanged, and although the barn is in the same place it has been altered. There are less cobbles and more weeds.
But the main difference is the size of the family. As parents of three children we are never going to fill the porch. And I know it's a colour photo - but I bet the 1914 Robinsons weren't all wearing blue. The colour wasn't meant to be coordinating - everyone just came downstairs in blue!

Left to right -
Elliot, Victoria, James, Michelle, Robert, Claire
Chris, Fletcher, Henry, Maisie the dog, Kathleen, Quinn, Isabella

It will be our Golden Wedding in six years, so maybe we'll do it all again then!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Comings and goings

It's been a while since the last Blog post, but there's been plenty going on at Strickley. Second Cut was piled high in the pits and sheeted up (covered by what sounded like - to me - Cling Film). Hundreds of big bales were wrapped and carted down from The Lots to the compounds at Strickley.
We're well into our main calving season cow, with most cows seeming to prefer calving at night. The dry cows spend their last few weeks inside, so we can manage their diet etc (mustn't get too fat), and when they start "bagging up" they are moved to calving pens. These are right opposite our bedroom window, so it's usually me who hears the telltale moaning sounds about 2 in the morning. A quick nudge and Henry is up and out to see what's happening.

There have been much comings and goings round the house as well. Cousins camping in the Paddock, cousins camping near the pond. Children and grandchildren staying on the way to and from Scotland and Dorset. Sudden influxes of family visitors so I had to do a minor miracle and turn supper for 10 into supper for 16.

But tonight Henry and I get a bit of a respite as were off in the caravan for a couple of days. No getting up in the night for calving cows! No feeding a multitude! We're leaving Strickley - and the Aga - in the capable hands of Victoria. Elliot has had a crash course in filling and riddling.

So, Au Revoir till  the next time.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Penrith Show

Yesterday was Penrith Show - one of the highlights of the North West Dairy Shorthorn's year. There is always a good turnout of stock - not just because we have such good stock up here, but also because The North of England Calf and Showmanship competition is held at the same time. It's been held in various locations, on farm and at Auction Marts, but for several years has settled into it's slot at Penrith.

For our readers who don't know - the Calf Show has two parts - classes for the calves, and classes for the handlers. For the past few weeks Robert and Chris have been preparing; leading their chosen (by Henry and James) calves round the yard after milking, getting the calves used to being on a halter, learning how to encourage the calves to do what the handler wants and how to handle the calves and watch the judge. The day before the show the calves were washed and clipped, and by 06:15 on Show Day were loaded into the trailer with three show cows.

An early start meant there was plenty of time to unload, wash and brush up (the cows), and sit and relax.

Then a few last minutes touches - the Vice President of the Shorthorn Society fluffs up a cow's tail.

Bedded, fed and watered.

And it's not just the cows and calves that are looking their best!

Ready to go

Concentrating and remembering all the practice.

Three smart boys now

Controlling the calf

First in class!

Robert and Starbud 60th

Champion Junior Handler (and Goldie 229th)

A happy boy and calf

So, well done to Robert and Starbud 60th - Champion Junior Calf, and Reserve Overall Calf.
And to Chris and Goldie 229th - Champion Junior Handler.

And as an extra bonus to the joy of winning, the boys also got some little brown envelopes with prize money - to put away into their New Zealand holiday fund.

And what of the Strickley cows? It was not our day, the honours went to Jonathan Fisher's Mossrigg Barrington Iris, who not only won the Champion Dairy Shorthorn, but also Supreme Champion Dairy animal

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Good things coming in threes?

Is it true that good things come in three's?

Maybe it is.
Last week James found out that he had won a trip to New Zealand ("Study Trip" not a holiday!, though all the family are going).
And then on Saturday I found out I had won an Ipad case from a local farm shop.
We wondered what would be next -
Then last night night both James and myself won in the New Hutton 200 Club monthly draw - only £10 each but every little helps!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Here we go again

Second cut for clamp silage has started - James is mowing, while Henry and David are opening up the big bit, where we hope to squeeze a few more loads on top. The second smaller pit is ready and waiting. We've our fingers cross that this is a start of a few good days weather wise. Pickup will start tomorrow

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Deja vu

We came back yesterday from 9 nights in sunny Scotland, but it's as if we've never been away.
Grass is growing.
Cows are calving.
James was mowing.
Baler due this afternoon.

But it was a relaxing break.

There was a little bit of rain

Quite a lot of sun

A lot of Al Fresco cooking, from breakfast

to supper

And a lot of sleeping, inside and out

Then it was wagons roll and off back to Strickley

Monday, 30 June 2014

Thank you!

A quick and inadequate thank you to everyone who came to Strickley on Saturday for the AGM and judging day. Thank you for coming so far (Devon, Ireland, Scotland and all points inbetween).

Thank you to Henry and James for all the tidying of yard, gardens and cows and to Michelle for sorting out all the tea and coffee (who knew farmers drank so many cups? A good job we had a tank full of milk down the yard).

And if you're passing and want a quieter look round, just let us know!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Bales, bales and more bales

Having looked at the weather forecast, and not really believed that we would get another sunny haymaking day, we took the "safer" option and made big bale silage, and big bale hay (unwrapped).

Monday, 16 June 2014

Coming up

Mowing, scaling and baling - different shapes and sizes, depending on the weather, but we have booked contractors for small conventional hay bales, big bale wrapped silage, and large unwrapped hay bales (I think). But don't take my word for it - keep an eye on the fields across the road from Strickley.

And then, on Saturday 28th June its the Dairy Shorthorn Society's AGM at Strickley. Not only an AGM, but a judging day and farm walk. And - a homemade lunch. Everyone is welcome, and more details can be found if you click   here

Forty years ago today . . .

. . . James Edward Robinson made his first appearance. It was Fathers Day (a Sunday) and in between milkings (so Henry could be there for the birth than get back to work) and a week earlier than expected. Other than that, I don't remember much about it.

But, here's a few memories of a young, and older, James


Saturday, 14 June 2014


Are you following on us on Twitter? It's often more up to date than this Blog!

For general Strickley news (but really what I write) and the weather follow @StrickleyFarm

And for an alternative - and younger view on farm life and life in general - follow James on @JRfromStrickley

First cut may be in, but we're still busy

Grass is in the pit and muck is on the fields and they're gradually changing from brown back to green. It's quite amazing how much more silage we have this year - maybe 20% more. I'm not sure where the next cuts are going to go. We keep some fields for hay (depending on the weather) and rough estimates of the number of small bales that we'll get is quite alarming. Maybe we had better plan to be on holiday that week!
We had our Soil Association inspection yesterday, so now all the files and stacks of paper can go back in the relevant files and boxes in the office. I sometimes think the practical farming side of Organic is the easy bit, it's the paper trail that can wear you out. But if we couldn't prove what we've done (or not done), what would be the point?

On a sudden whim last week (well not too sudden, it's been long in the pipeline) Henry and James knocked down an old shed (known here as the Sawdust Shed - though it hasn't held sawdust for some time). It was full of a lot of "stuff" - all useful (so I'm told). This is now in the winter calf pens, so whatever we decide to do, there is a deadline. The plan is to build a new workshop, but now that we've got this lovely wide open space in the yard, the powers that be are wondering if they really want a workshop there.

And finally Henry and I did something last night we've never done - went to see a group at The Brewery that we had never heard of. I usually plan nights out well in advance, buying tickets as soon as they're available. But see this girl group advertised on the Brewery website, I clicked and bought tickets on a whim. Maybe it was the name that swayed me - The Henry Girls. And a good time was had by all. If they come your way, go an see them. There next appearance is on the Accoustic Stage at Glastonbury. Click here for their website.And on Twitter - @TheHenryGirls.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Ten days later

It's been a long ten days since we mowed out first fields, but by lunch time today the first cut was in the pit. It's a very good crop and the grass in the pit is getting nearer and nearer the roof. It will settle a bit, but for the moment we have decided to big bale the last 5 acres we cut. So the contractor and carters have been fed and watered and have moved on to the neighbouring farm. The weekend weather looks not bad, so maybe they'll be lucky and get it all in one go.

For the moment the fields look a pale strawy green colour - but be prepared - next week they'll be brown!

Monday, 26 May 2014

The mower's out again . .

. . . but the forecast isn't brilliant, so we'll just be snatching a few acres before it rains.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Silage update

Well, the weather wasn't quite as bad as we feared, and by Wednesday night we had 25 acres in the pit. We're now back to weather forecast watching, and looking for the next opportunity.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

It seems we got it wrong.

The sky has gone black and it is raining.
Oh dear (or similar words)

Now that's what I call a Birthday Cake!

Hasn't he got a clever Mum!