Sunday, 26 January 2014

Back from holiday, and back to work.

No, not us, but Wiggo (our young bull) who has been at a Collection Centre for a few months. This morning he was introduced to one of our heifers.

You too could have a little bit of Wiggo - read all about him on the Dairy Shorthorn website. Look for the link for RCG, or click here for the catalogue. And look out for other featured Strickley bulls.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Always ahead of the field

Last Sunday Henry's Uncle Wilson came to lunch and more particularly to look at some old photographs and reminisce. He was born at Strickley in 1916 and so has seen vast changes in farming. We have inherited hundreds of old photographs; some professional studio portraits (from the 19th century onwards), some especially posed to commemorate special occasions, some of cows and bulls, and many snapshots. To preserve them in another form and to share, I have scanned and saved the bulk of them. And with the wonders of technology we can look at them on a large screen television. 

To set the scene, this was taken in 1920, and shows Uncle Wilson (in a sailor suit) and Henry's father William (in what looks like a dress - maybe for his Christening?), with parents Frances and Arthur, and grandfather Henry.

And another more informal photograph as the boys grew up.

But on Sunday we were also looking back to earlier in the 20th Century. It seemed that the Robinsons were always ready to photograph important events, in the family and on the farm. And the arrival of new machinery was definitely something to capture.

Uncle Wilson remembered this photograph (taken in 1912 a few years before he was born). It shows a Bamford mowing machine - the first in the parish. Until then corn was cut by hand with a scythe. This was a great leap forward. It was a two man (and two horse) job, with one man "putting off" the cut corn (I hope I've got the right word - it was definitely not "forking off"). And yet another man to hand tie the sheaves. The photograph shows Henry Robinson, born 1843 and obviously in charge of the new machine. Tying the sheaves is Arthur (born 1880) and we think the other man is one of his brothers. Bringing out the tea is Arthur's sister Ruth. It's difficult to see all the mower detail in this photo, but we have another larger one that shows the lettering on the "spokes". I can't scan it as it's firmly fixed (ancient wood and nails) in a large frame. But peering at it thorough the glass it says )one word on each spoke) - Bamford, Patent, Royal, Uttoxeter, England.

Thursday, 9 January 2014


Congratulations to grandson Elliot - an "A" in GCSE Maths (taken last November). Keep it up for the main batch this summer!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Shorthorn website

The Dairy Shorthorn  website has been relaunched - click here.

Note - there's a lot of good information and articles, though some are last years (and you may gave missed them the, so a chance to catch up!)

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Back to reality

While farmers can never have a break at Christmas (but maybe arable farmers do? I'm only speaking of livestock farmers), it's true to say we've been taking it a bit easier for the last couple of weeks. Henry and James planned to have as a relaxing Christmas Day as possible - i.e. they made sure they did as much as possible the day before, and that feed and bedding were all readily available. And they didn't get up at the usual time on Christmas morning - but nearly an hour sooner so there was more time to spend indoors between milkings.

I too had done as much as possible the day before, with the help of visitors. Many thanks to Victoria for decorating the cake (and more besides!) and to young Fletcher for helping with the vegetables. By we went to bed on Christmas Eve the turkey was tucked up in the bottom oven of the Aga and a mince pie, glass of milk and a carrot waiting by the tree for any visitors that might come by.

The early start meant an early finish to breakfast (rum butter on toast) and then we could get down to the serious business of unwrapping the heap of parcels which had thoughtfully been left behind a locked door in the sitting room. Poor Father Christmas had got a bit confused (or maybe there was no more room on the sleigh) and left Fletcher's bike in Leicestershire - but he did leave a note to say where it was. There was rather a technological and foodie theme to some of the presents (including chocolate game controllers).

Meanwhile the Aga was struggling manfully on, as I began to panic that the parsnips would never crisp up, or the gravy heat up. After a bit of a meltdown (me, not the Aga) it all came together and ten of us sat down to a laden table. I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas food - well I keep to the traditions that have been established in our family over the past forty odd years - turkey, vegetables and as many trimming as we can manage.

Henry and James had to go out to work at four o'clock - and not just so they could work up an appetite for turkey sandwiches and Christmas cake.

On Boxing Day I was glad I had gone a bit overboard with the food the day before, as there were plenty of leftovers to go round. After a supper of rather posh shop bought nibbles (supplemented by another of my traditions - home made mushroom vol au vents), we sat back and relaxed and/or played a few energetic party games. Somewhere along the line we had musical turns from children and grandchildren - violin solos, singing and piano playing.

As the days went on Henry and James had to do more and more farm work - and tried to make the most of the few good days when it was fine, by hedging and spreading muck. I had got up to date with bills and other paperwork before Christmas and I've just been "ticking over" since then. But today marks the end of my "holiday" and it's nose to the grindstone again (well, nearly to the grindstone). We've taken the decorations down and it's back to school tomorrow. What shall we look forward to next? February's a month full of Birthdays, so I had better start saving up.

Every year I think our Christmas tree is the best we've ever had, but this year it really was! It reached the ceiling in the hall and spread it's branches far and wide. I can never take a good photo of it, but this gives some idea - you can even see the fairy  on the top (given to me on my first Christmas many years ago).