Tuesday 27 March 2012

A lovely walk by the river on a warm March evening

 It has been another glorious day and I couldn't resist taking one of Chris' sheepdogs for a walk by the Swale at the bottom of Pry Home Field.  This is Wamp Bridge, built over 100 years ago to span the River Swale to enable farmers access to the other side.  It has been skillfully constructed out of the finest local stone and is as strong today as the day it was built.
 The view downstream from Wamp Bridge. 
 Pry House from Ash Gill
 Again looking east towards Hoggarths (behind the trees) and Smithyholme in the far distance.
 A field barn in the field by the river that we call Greendale.  The stone enclosure next to the barn is called The Rhubarb Patch.  One assumes this is because rhubarb and perhaps other vegetables were grown here in the days when farming families had to be more self surficient.  No 4x4 vehicles for farmer's wives in those days and certainly no Tesco or Asda delivery vans!  The sheltered fields on both sides of the river are where we put the sheep that have had twin lambs.  Tonight the air was full of birdsong.  In a few weeks time the sound of bleating lambs will be prevelant.  Its a lovely time of year.
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Monday 26 March 2012

Sizzling Swaledale!

Well, its been another simply glorious day with wall to wall sunshine and the bluest of skies.  Its unheard of to be farming in shirt sleeves and shoes in March instead of the usual wellies and waterproofs.  We are busy getting ready for lambing.  The building was cleared of cows a few days ago, cleaned out and bedded up for sheep.  We have just started to bring the in-lamb ewes back from the lowland farms where they have spent the winter.  Normally this is an anxious time as the sheep adjust to the colder, windier, harsher climate up here, but not this year.  Chris is keeping a close eye on one or two of them that are heavy with twins but the majority are in very good shape.  At the beginning of next week several hundred more will come home.  Some will go indoors but most go back onto the moor including the hoggs (young sheep born last year).  We start lambing around 12th April.  I'll keep you all posted with lots of photos too. 

Tuesday 20 March 2012

A pair of twin calves and a single!

 Last night one of our cows gave birth to twins which is quite unusual.  As you can see from the photo above both mother and babies are doing fine.  They are less than 24 hours old.  Whilst I was in the building looking at the twins another cow was calving.  She too has had a fine healthy calf.  The mother was very protective over her calf, snorting and stamping and pouring the ground. Chris and Raymond had to be careful as they made a pen around her and gave her fresh bedding. She won't behave like this for long, just the first few hours until the calf is on its feet and suckling.  He is only ten minutes old in this photo.

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Friday 16 March 2012

Bird Song

The curlews are back!  This morning there were dozens of them walking across our home field, pecking the ground with their long beaks, looking for food.  Last week the lapwings returned swooping about in the sky making their familiar 'peewit' call.  It has been lovely to wake up, the last few mornings, to the sound of the birds.

Monday 12 March 2012

BBC Countryfile Magazine

Nice surprise today when I discovered Chris, his brother Raymond and his nephew Andrew are featured in April's edition of the BBC Countryfile magazine.  Its just a small piece but a large section of the magazine is dedicated to the Yorkshire Dales.  Well worth buying if you love the dales.

Tup Hoggs on the Rampage!

I have been to Hawes today to collect the 2012 events brochure for the Keld Countryside & Heritage Centre.  Email me if you would like one and I'll send you the online version.
When I got home the tup hoggs had got out and decided to explore my garden!  They have trappled all over the place, flattening daffodils, nibbling at my one and only coniverous shrub, pooing all over the flags and generally leaving the place covered in muddy footprints!!  AAAAAhhhhh.  So its sweeping brush and power washer for me tomorrow!

Sunday 11 March 2012

Heather Burning

This was the view from Pry House this afternoon.  A gamekeeper from Gunnerside Estate has set fire to the heather.  This is done in a controlled manner.  The whole hillside is not burnt at the same time.  It is burnt in patches in order to leave areas untouched to provide shelter and cover for nesting grouse.  Just as a gardener hard prunes shrubs and plants, the heather is burnt to assist regrowth.

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Tuesday 6 March 2012

Foddering Sheep

Chris feeding the sheep on the moor this morning. It was a beautiful day, sunny and still with just a hint of snow on the highest tops.
The sheep are given silage or hay every day as well as sugar beet which they love. The sugar beet bag makes a very good tool to get close to the sheep. Chris rattles the bag to get their attention and then is able to catch any he needs to have a closer look at.
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Sunday 4 March 2012

A very pleasant day out

We have had a lovely afternoon off in Hawes today.  First of all Chris and I visited the Wensleydale Creamery, home of Wensleydale cheese, and had a super carvery lunch followed by treacle sponge (me) and apple pie served the traditional way with a wedge of cheese, Wensleydale of course, (Chris).  As well as the restaurant there is a new Cheese Shop where all the varieties of cheese are temptingly available to sample.  The Jerveau Blue is excellent and so is the Abbot's Gold cheddar with caramelised onion. Bought some of each!  The gift shop is well stocked with quality merchandise and a good range books.  I bought a lovely book called Yorkshire Dales Villages to add to my collection of local interest books for my guests to enjoy.  Visit http://www.wensleydale.co.uk/
Then it was off to Gayle Mill near Hawes for a guided tour of this fully restored 19th century sawmill. Gayle Mill was a strong contender in the BBC Restoration programme a few years ago.  They came third which was brilliant as they were up against much bigger community projects such as the Victorian Baths in Manchester which came first.  Today the water powered turbines and machinery are all back in working order and the mill is back in production.  The tour and demonstrations were fascinating and the dedication and determination of the volunteers who keep the mill going is admirable.  Have a look at http://www.gaylemill.org.uk/  

Snow at Pry House

Its snowing here today.  It is, honestly.  It is white and wild outside this morning!  What more can I say except thank goodness we aren't lambing yet and more importantly I hope it doesn't prevent us getting to the Wensleydale Creamery for lunch!