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!