Sunday, 9 September 2018

Almost time to fly and say goodbye

Pry House Farm is a wonderful place to observe birds and animals.  
Sometimes I think its like living in my own nature reserve.  Okay, we don't have anything particularly rare to see but to have wildlife at every window is a wonderful thing to me.

 The parents built this nest in an outbuilding in the yard - one that we use very regularly.  To avoid disturbing the female as she sat on her eggs we moved everything that we needed.  The plan worked as this is her second brood.



They are an entertaining little bunch and enjoy perching on Chris' hay rake.  Today they were all sat on the top of the stable door waiting for the parent bird to bring them food.
They are a late brood.  I wonder if they will follow the hundreds, possibly thousands, that gathered on the electricity wires last week as they prepared to migrate.  I have never seen so many - it was quite a sight.























Every year a group of Greylag geese land on the field at the back of the house and stay for a few days.  This year they came in early August which is later than usual but there were more of them.

Lots of little birds come to the garden fence; meadow pipit, wren and this year, for the first time, an attractive little great tit who is too sharp and quick for me to catch on camera!


All the ground nesting birds have gone back to their usual habitats but by spring the air will be full of the call of the peewit (lapwing) and curlew and the skies an acrobatic display of oyster catcher, redshank and snipe.

Muker Show 2018

Muker Show takes place on the first Wednesday in September.
There's plenty of good country shows to visit during August and September all over the 
Yorkshire Dales but those of us who live in Upper Swaledale think our show is the best!  
Why don't you come and see for yourself next year?

 The setting is spectacular and on a sunny day (and it usually is) crowds of people sit on the grassy bank to listen to the band, enjoy the attractions and watch the fell race.

The children's fancy dress competition is guaranteed to bring a few 'ooohs and aaahs' 
from family and friends watching on.

 There's something for everybody at Muker Show; vintage tractors, sheep dog trials, wood turning demonstrations, crafts and stalls to suit all tastes and pockets.


There are classes for everyone; baking, art, fruit & veg, flower arranging, photography.  What is your speciality?  Everyone is welcome to enter.  Why not come next year and have a go?
The schedule can be found on the Muker Show website https://www.mukershow.co.uk/




However for the farming community a prize for hay or in the sheep ring bring the biggest smiles. We were ecstatic to get a second in the hay class.



At the close of the show Muker Silver Band assemble outside the Farmers Arms in the village, song sheets are handed out and everyone joins in with the community singing.  To many this is the highlight of the day.  A magical moment which is not to be missed.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Reeth - A Traditional Dales Country Show

It has been Reeth Show today. It takes place on August Bank Holiday Monday and I can thoroughly recommend this excellent Yorkshire dales show. 
Its not too big and not too small with something for everybody. 
It was a pleasure to be asked to judge the children's handicraft section. 
I enjoyed every minute.

 This is the young exhibitor who won several first prizes and who I awarded the overall trophy (in the sections I judged) for his 3D display 'Tractor Run'.  Well done.



 
There is plenty to see across the showfield from show classes and displays in the main ring to demonstrations to watch and exhibits and trade stands to wander around .




 


 A good variety of breeds of sheep to see.


Young handlers class was won by a farmer's son from Teesdale.















Fell racing is a popular event at many dales shows with a shorter course for younger runners and the adults racing to the skyline, high on the fell, before returning back to the showfield.



 Tractors, dogs, drystone walling, cookery demonstrations, cows, climbing wall, bouncy castles, produce & handicrafts tents, lots of good food stands.  
A great day out.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Foraging is Fun

This year there has been an explosion of beautiful, pearly white field mushrooms in the little garth next to the farmhouse.  The hot weather all summer followed by rain has proved ideal growing conditions for mushrooms.  Foraging for food such as mushrooms, blackberries, damsons, wild raspberries is such fun and very rewarding when turned into tasty soup, pies or jam.

    Knowing where our food comes from is an important topic at the moment so for children to actually find and harvest fruit and veg is a lifelong learning experience.



I had lots of ideas in my head to make the task more interesting -  who can fill their basket first?  Who can find the biggest mushroom?  But as it turned out the simple act of finding lots of little white buttons hiding in the grass was encouragement enough.



A family affair and plenty of foraged treasure to take home for tea.  
Thank you for helping with the mushroom harvest.






Keld to Muker - a fabulous walk with children

Children love a map.  They love having a list of things to find.  They love exciting places to explore.  The 'Showing You the Way .... Keld to Muker - a Children's Guide has everything needed to stimulate imagination and spark interest in the great outdoors.  I have copies at Pry House Farm B&B or pick one up in the Keld Countryside & Heritage Centre http://keld.org.uk/

  


Ruben and Fergus (9 years) studying the map at the start of the walk in Keld where the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast path meets.









Before we set off we called at Rukin's Tearoom in Keld village for supplies and sweets in a stripey bag - essential kit for explorers of all ages.


It wasn't long before we came across the first of two magnificent waterfalls.
            

Here we are standing in front of  East Gill Falls and a little further along the path searching for the entrance to a disused lead mine called Landy Level.  It has now sunken and looks more like a fox hole or a tiny cave.  If you are on the path earlier in the year, before the bracken has grown, it is easier to find.


At the bottom of Swinner Gill the remains of Beldi lead mining buildings are too exciting not to explore. The stream can be crossed by footbridge or paddled through.  When the weather is really hot the pool below is a fabulous place to swim.  In the second photo Fergus and Ruben and I are looking round an old abandoned farmhouse called Crackpot Hall.  Find an old fireplace, a tin bath, a stairwell and landing window.  What must it have been like to live here with no electricity, no running water, no road?

There are three different illustrated walks leaflets in the children's series.  
This is what Fergus and Ruben had to say about their walk.  'Great walk from Keld to Muker.  We loved following the map and finding all the things especially the tractor skeleton.  We think Auntie Glenda is the best teacher of all things Swaledale!  We can't wait to do the next walk'.

If you are in Swaledale with your children or grandchildren please pick up a walk leaflet and be your children's guide.  Its great fun.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Hay time with Dalesman magazine

Its not often I open Yorkshire's most popular magazine to find photographs 
of my husband haymaking.



In August's edition of the Dalesman magazine there is a photographic account of 
the haytime afternoon we held last year.  Local children, who helped me create 
an illustrated walk leaflet for young visitors to the dale, came to find out how hay used to be made before mechanisation and to have a go themselves.


Proffessional photographer, Stephen Garnett
came to record the event for the Yorkshire Dales
National Park Authority.

It is fascinating to look back and recall how different hay time this year has been compared to 2017.

This year we had all our hay made and stored by 2nd July.
Last year we struggled to get two dry days together and
we made very little hay.  At one point I didn't think the children's haymaking event would happen but it did - 
on the last day of the school holidays 
Friday 1st September!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

One Swallow Doesn't Make a Summer

One swallow doesn't make a summer but a whole nestful does!  
When the parents of this brood built their nest on the top of an old door propped up in a building in our yard I thought there was little hope of them hatching.  They had chosen a place that we use every day; where we store the dog food and where Chris keeps his tools.  Every time we went in the parent bird abandoned the nest and her eggs. There was only one solution - a mammoth tidy up and a re-housing of anything we used regularly.

The plan worked.  They have all successfully fledged and each evening join the dozens of other young swallows learning to swoop and dive and catch food on the wing.
 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Muker to Calvert Houses - An Every Cowus Tells A Story Walk

There are six walk booklets as part of the Every Barn Cowus Tells a Story project
This is Muker to Calvert Houses and is an easy walk, almost all on the level with only two short inclines.  It starts in Muker and passes through the meadows to the river then instead of turning left to Keld turn right and head down dale.

 
This walk is infact probably less challenging than the children's cowus trail from Muker to Thwaite via Kisdon Houses.  Then again children love a challenge!


Shortly after leaving Muker is the hamlet of Rampsholme and in the field you pass through is Great Rampsholme cow house.  This is one of the cowus's that was restored using money left in a legacy which in turn sparked the idea of the Every Barn Cowus Tells a Story project.

The impressively restored internal features of a tradional cow house

This is a walk for all the family with plenty of space and places to paddle and picnic.


Looking back to Muker and the patchwork of meadows each with its own cowus.
From mid May the sheep are taken off the fields to let the grass grow so that in summer it can be made into hay which is fed to the stock during winter.  Please be mindful of this precious crop and perhaps walk around the edges rather than taking the direct path straight across. 

After passing through the farmyard at Calvert Houses turn left onto the higher level track that runs along the edge of the moor.  The moors have their own species of flora; dozens of tiny, pretty, low growing alpines which are delightful after the bleak winter months when very little grows here.




Follow the track back to the river and cross the bridge.  If it is a very hot day, as it was when I walked this route,  then take a break, dip your toes in the water and count the cow houses!


The maps in the centre of each booklet has the route marked clearly in red. However any other public footpaths are also shown (in grey) so you can shorten the walk if necessary or make your own route.   The Every Barn Cowus Tells A Story booklets are available to buy at the National Park Visitor Centres in Reeth, Aysgarth and Bainbridge or online at yorkshiredales.org.uk.  At £4.99 for a pack of 6 different walking guides they are terrific value for money.