Friday, 29 March 2019

The Year of the Daffodil

From Reeth to Keld,  hundreds of golden daffodils form a guard of honour along the roadsides....




... providing a sunny welcome to villages of Thwaite, Muker and Keld

  and when finally they are weary from standing and their last golden trumpet fades
bluebells and buttercups, meadowsweet and primrose are ready to take their place.





Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Anticipation and Expectancy Part 2

Spring is here and the air is charged with anticipation as we prepare for new life on the farm.
This calf decided to come into the world when Chris and Raymond weren't around.  It was the cow's first calf and she needed a bit of help.  I wasn't on my own ... my nephew Andrew had the job in hand but it was the first time I'd assisted a calving!


A lot of people think that because it is spring and the sun is shining that we will be lambing however high up in the hills (Pry House sits at 1300ft above sea level) March is far too soon for us to be lambing.  Its a degree or two colder up here, our grass, a vital ingredient for sheep mothering their young, isn't growing yet and as last year proved, when the beast from the east hit in March, anything can happen this early in the year.  So we wait .......

Something else a lot of people don't realise is that over half our flock spend the winter on lowland farms, some as far as 70 miles away from Pry House Farm.  They go there after tupping, they have been scanned on their winter farms but now they must come back to lamb.

 


Sheep carrying twins come back first and are kept inside.  They have to be carefully watched for signs of staggers, a disease that puts them off their feet and can be fatal if not acted upon quickly.  These sheep are in our building now and are all expecting twins (note the blue mark between the shoulders).  Sheep carrying a single are not so problematic and go straight back onto the fell.


 Lambing time is so very busy but its also very special.  April 12th is our starting date, it will be here in no time and the farm will be buzzing with activity and new life.  Watch out for lots of lambing time stories throughout April and May.




 

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Anticipation and Expectancy

As the month of March rolls on, all over the dale, there is an atmosphere of anticipation and expectancy in the air.  Both the farming community and hospitality sector are gearing up for the busiest time of the year.

Quietly and behind closed doors B&B and holiday cottage owners are beavering away ensuring every inch of their properties are in tip top order in readiness for guests coming for a relaxing holiday, a stop-over during a long distance walk, cycling events and more - the list is endless.

Pry House Farm and Hillcrest Cottage are no exception.  Stuart from OvenSOS North Yorkshire has been to give my hard working ovens a thorough clean.  What a good job he does - I can recommend.


                                                   
David the decorator came a few weeks ago to smarten up both houses (as he has done since 2005). What would I do without him?  This year I had the dairy painted and took the opportunity to  reorganise and re-stock.  There has been much talk recently about stock piling food because of Brexit however, living in such a remote place as Pry House Farm, keeping the shelves and freezers full is normal practice for me! 

As for the farming community getting busier - more of that in my next post.
Coming soon!

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Dry Stone Walls

Everyone who visits the Yorkshire Dales are fascinated and sometimes bemused when they see the thousands of miles of stone walls that feature so prominently here.  
Who built them?  How old are they?  Where did the stone come from?  

The first thing to understand is that the walls are double skinned with a narrow cavity in the middle. The walls are strengthened with three lines of 'through' stones (sometimes pronounced 'truffs').  The through stones transverse the two walls and are left proud of the face of the wall.  Through stones are also obvious on the stone buildings (cowhouses) as they are built using the same principle.
 
So the stones that you see sticking out of the walls and buildings are not:-
a)  to make it easy for the farmer to climb over.

  b) so that he can scale the face of the cow house to reach the forking hole.          

c) or somewhere for him to perch his behind!  
Although they may be used for these purposes on occasions!



Winding walls that edge our weaving roads, walls that divide our meadows, that snake their way over the fell and form the boundary between pasture and open moor.  These dry stone walls are not only an iconic feature of the Yorkshire Dales but an essential resource for hill farmers in the dales.

 GETTING OVER - GETTING THROUGH

 
 Squeeze stiles and ladder stiles provide a place to get over a wall and keep walkers safely on the official path but what about the sheep?

 Look closely and you will find all manner of strange openings.  These are thurl holes (sometimes called smoots or smoot holes) and are gaps in the stone walls that can be quickly opened to let sheep through.  Commonly found in walls that divide fields but occasionally seen on roadside walls to allow sheep to move from field to farmstead.  

 














Below, the sheep-shaped thurl is most unusual. And the stoned-up section of wall on the roadside opposite Pry House Farm is fascinating.  Was it once a thurl or a gateway? Then when longer required, simply and neatly walled up.
(P.S. I am not sure of the correct spelling of 'thurl'.  Any suggestions gratefully received).
                                                                                             

NOT JUST A BOUNDARY WALL - OUR WALLS HAVE MANY USES










A place for moss and lichen to thrive.

A hidey-hole for mice and voles.

A place for three hand reared lambs to show off and play!

But perhaps most important of all a sheltered place to lamb and to keep a newborn safe.

Guests staying at Pry House Farm B&B admire our beautifully maintained walls and often want to find out more.  The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are holding Drystone Walling Demonstrations at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes from April to August www.dalescountrysidemuseum.org.uk or have a look at The Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild 2 day non-residentional courses www.ydswg.co.uk.
Then when you come to stay with us we may a gap or two for you to practise on!
www.upperswaledaleholidays.co.uk