Saturday 31 December 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year to everyone who has stayed at Pry House Farm, to family, friends and neighbours and to anyone at all who might choose to read this blog.  Just returned home from The Kearton Country Hotel in Thwaite, just a few miles down the dale, where we have been letting in the New Year in style.  Good company, great food and entertainment in this unique little hotel in Swaledale.  Its always a treat to go there whatever the occasion but at Christmas time it is extra special. 
Visit  http://www.keartoncountryhotel/ and see for yourself.

What's happening on the farm?

Tupping has finished and the sheep, hopefully, should all be in lamb (we will know for definate when they are scanned next year) so now they can go away for their winter holidays!  We call it 'wintering away'.  About two thirds of our flock spend the winter on lowland farms all over the north east and during the last few days Chris has been transporting them by trailor or lorry to farms around Durham City, Stockton, Darlington and Sedgefield.  Generally speaking the sheep do better when they are 'wintered away' as the weather is nowhere near as harsh as up here in the hills.  Also land is more productive in lowland areas so there is much more grazing for the sheep.  The sheep that stay at home live on the fell and rely on Chris, Ray and Andrew to feed them every day and in severe weather twice a day however the Swaledale are a hardy upland breed and can cope with the harshest of conditions.  So why do we send so many away?  Pry House Farm, like many farms in the upper dale, is in a conservation area.  In order to protect the heather moors we are required to reduce our stocking levels during the winter.

Monday 26 December 2011

Christmas at Pry House Farm

We've had a brilliant Christmas weekend with a house full of family and friends.  It all starts on Christmas Eve when Muker Silver Band come and play carols.  To me it heralds the start of Christmas. The photo was taken last December, no snow this year just rain and gale force wind!  This year my family arrived in time to hear them play and then it was off to Keld Lodge for mulled wine and lots of Christmas cheer.  There were ten of us for Christmas lunch and then later Chris' family joined us for tea.  Today, Boxing Day, my brother and his family arrived so we have had quite a house full.  Everyone has gone home now and the house seems quiet.  Tonight I'll be curled up by the fire with my feet up, a box of chocolates and a bottle of Baileys for company.  Perfect!
Hope you have all enjoyed the holidays as much as we have.
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Thursday 22 December 2011

Christmas is coming!

Its Christmas at Pry House Farm and the house looks lovely with the tree in place, garlands on the mantlepiece, candles on the window sills and cards hanging from the beamed ceiling in the dining room.
Yesterday we had the Owen family from Ravenseat for a Christmas party tea.  Clive and Amanda and their six children live less than a mile and a half from Pry House and are our nearest neighbouring farming family. You may have seen them on the ITV programme 'The Dales'.  The children love playing with my old farmyard and all the farm animals, toy tractors etc that belonged to our boys when they were little.  We had a thoroughly good time.  Visit to meet the Owens and see their beautiful Shepherd's Hut which is available for holidays.

Monday 12 December 2011

Storms hit Swaledale

Pry House is still standing after being battered by storms last Thursday (8th December).  Terrific winds and torrential rain caused lots of damage in the upper dale.  The road into Keld village turned into a river causing flooding in the village.  The water got into a holiday cottage I look after.  No serious damage, just a mess.  Further down the dale the Swale broke its banks.  The quantity of water and the sheer force of it flattened huge stretches of dry stone wall and damaged bridges.  No one can remember it ever being so bad.

Monday 5 December 2011

The perils of living at Pry House

We have had heaps more snow today.  The roads are very tricky even in the 4x4.  The gritter has been up past the house twice but the roads soon get covered again as it is snowing most of the time and the wind is blowing it all over the place.  I foolishly set off for Keld at about 7 p.m.  I only drove a few hundred yards before I was in trouble.  I was slipping and sliding on a bad, downhill bend.  I was terrified but had no other option than inch slowly to the bottom of the hill where I abandoned the Freelander. This cowardly choice meant I had to walk, head on, into a blizzard all the way back up to Pry House!  I'm still shaking!

Sunday 4 December 2011

Its Snowing!!!

I could see from my bedroom window this morning that Great Shunner Fell was white with snow but there was none here at the house then at about 11.30 a.m. it suddenly went dark and wow what at white out.  There has been another couple of nasty blizzardy showers and the forecast is for more to come.  I'll let you all know if we get snowed in! 

Saturday 3 December 2011

New Job!

I have just taken on the responsibility of The Keld Countryside & Heritage Centre in the village.  The centre opened earlier this year and basically is a small, unmaned visitor centre.  It is situated on the ground floor of the old Keld Centre building and it used to be where the minister kept his horse and trap.  The two rooms have been done out very sympathetically and incorporates information boards about the village, village life and the area around Keld both past and present.  My job includes keeping the place tidy and organising events and activities based in the centre.  To date we have 5 events arranged for next season.  To find out more visit  but not just yet!  You will have to wait until the new website goes live! Watch this space.


The tups have been with the sheep for two weeks.  Each day the tups are rudded.  This is a colouring applied to the underside of the tup, so as the females are covered, the tup leaves his telltale mark!  At the end of each week Chris marks the sheep that have been served, with a paint mark.
This process known as smitting.  Each week the smit mark is applied to a different part of the sheep's body.  The colour of the smit also tell Chris which tup the sheep is in lamb to.  Next April when the sheep are gathered in for lambing we can tell by the smit mark which week they are likely to have their lambs.  Complicated isn't it?

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Chris drove Coast to Coast on his Grey Fergie

In June Chris drove almost 200miles from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood's Bay on the north east coast on his 1948 Grey Fergie Tractor pictured below.  I was back up in the Freelander.  We had a fanatastic time driving across the country over 4 days and raised £6350 for Cancer Research UK.  If you would like to read the whole story see our website.  Watch out for a photo of his new little red tractor when we get it home!  I wonder if he will tackle another long distance tractor drive on the Massey 35?  Possibly.  It goes faster than the Fergie!

1948 Vintage Grey Fergie Tractor

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Monday 28 November 2011

Chris has bought a vintage tractor!

Chris has been searching for a Massey Ferguson 35 for ages and last night successfully bid for one on Ebay.  Now he has a little red tractor to play with as well as his little Grey Fergie!

Sunday 27 November 2011

Whats Happening on the Farm at Pry House

Its Tupping time on the farm and on15th November the tups (rams) have been put to the female sheep.  As our flock are pedigree Swaledales this means Chris has to select which sheep he thinks will suit each tup.  Each tup can serve between 50 - 80 ewes.  Lucky them!  Tupping goes on until the end of the year by which time all the sheep should be in lamb.

Thursday 24 November 2011

A blustery night at Pry House Farm

All is quiet at Pry House today as there are few walkers around so nobody requiring bed & breakfast.  It soon starts to get dark with the light beginning to fade by about 3.30 p.m. and completely dark by 4.30 p.m.  Its a wild, noisy night with the wind howling down the chimney so in that respect not quiet at all!

Saturday 15 October 2011

Sunny Saturday in Swaledale
The sun is shining at Pry House Farm!  Summer has arrived, a bit late but very welcome however there are rumours flying that we might have snow next week.  I'll keep you posted!
This is my first time at blogging so I'm a bit green.  I intend practising over the winter so I know what I'm doing for next season.