While the cows have been going out during the day for the past ten days, they have still been staying in overnight. But last night was another step forward into summer, when they went back out to graze after evening milking. So there was no need for Henry or James to go down the buildings last thing at night "to shove the silage up".
When the cows went out for the first time they went into The Meadow - the long field opposite our lane end. They did their job well and ate off all the grass. It's now been limed, ploughed, stone picked and reseeded. Watch out for green shoots soon.
Ten weeks ago today two new settees arrived at Strickley. Despite my best efforts at measuring, they refused to slim down enough to get through the door from the hall to the sitting room. Looking back at earlier posts you'll see the simple solution we came up with - replace the back window with a door. Work was held up as our builder battled the elements on other jobs, but eventually the destruction, and them construction began (see photos in earlier posts). But that was just the end of part one of the project. In 1997 we had the house rewired - a mammoth undertaking that involved chipping away at walls and chasing in cables. Intending to redecorate later we just painted over the bare plaster and more or less forgot about it. So while the room was almost empty with the remaining furniture sheeted up, we repapered the missing bits (nothing glamorous, just woodchip) and painted everything. The final touch was steam cleaning the parquet floor and polishing.
Then yesterday, just before noon, Henry and James carried the settees round to the back and through the door. Thankfully, they went through with ease.
So all we have to do now is to replace all the stuff that we moved out of the way (23 pictures for instance).
This morning after milking/feeding/mucking out (aka "doing up") we were busy checking fences and gates, ready for the main event after dinner - the cows going out! We've still got plenty of silage, but the grass is growing and we want to get one field eaten off before we plough and reseed it.
So it was a rush down the cow track, across the road and a hop skip and a jump into the Meadow.
Then back to field work. We recently took some soil samples to check if fields were deficient in anything. Two fields came back with the comments "pH only slightly down in 2 fields – need calcium lime to address this – just
over 1 t/acre on each. Phosphorus level Ok so root growth shouldn’t be affected
– possibly some compaction which would be worth a look", so today Henry was out and about with the aerator.
I had just got back inside and looked at the photo, when he was followed by a contractor spreading lime.
Don't be fooled by the look of the gradient - it's actually the steep hill across from our house.
And after a quick drink and cake or two (or three if you're a hungry farmer) it was time to bring the cows back up for milking.
This one found time to sniff out the cake in the feed bin outside the parlour.
These are a bit young to go out yet, but in a few weeks there will only be the very young calves inside.
It's a long way off - but we (or perhaps I should just see "I") are planning our social life for next November/December.
We already have tickets booked for two local gigs at The Brewery Arts Centre, and one in York for Bellowhead, but yesterday we heard that Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook (of Squeeze) were touring together for the first time for years.
So I made a note to book tickets for Salford as soon as booking opened on Friday. But today, news of another must-see gig - Chris Rea.
We're not planning on going to France (it's the only advert I could find), but maybe to Glasgow in December. Booking also opens on Friday (plus a Live Nation pre-sale on Thursday, and O2 pre-sale tomorrow - which will have the best seats?)
We have to decide - both? or just one? Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook is a rare event, but it may be Chris Rea's last tour. I'll sleep on it.
EDIT - booked for both! I'm a bit poorer now - but I'll have forgotten the cost by we go.
. . . I can tell what's going on today. There's a well known agricultural whiff in the air.
But it has to be done.
In winter we have to spread slurry if the pit and tower are filling up. But at that time of year we are just spreading it to make room for more (what goes in one end, must come out the other). But in late March we start to spread in earnest. There's an optimum time to apply this wonderful natural resource to the fields, and that time is now. It can be a bit tricky if the ground is still very soft (which it is) or if the fields are steep (which some are), but we've almost got round the whole farm now. If the rain holds off till later today we will have done all we can, and the rest is up to nature and the nutrients in the good organic slurry.
We've seen some of our neighbours venturing out with fertiliser spreaders, but that's one expense and job we don't have.