Sunday, 30 August 2015

Wensleydale Show 2.

I love the bantams - I used to keep them and in those days they were not part of the Show so I never got to enter any.

Runner beans are particularly good I think.   Ours should begin to be ready by Monday as they have really grown well over the last week, but they for sure will not be as straight as the ones in the shot.

Thanks to the farmer for taking the trouble to give everyone (including me) a taste of the Show.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Wensleydale Show.

One of the most important agricultural shows in the County of Yorkshire, it was the Wensleydale Show today - and it kept fine apart from one short, sharp shower.

I no long go as I can't walk round without really holding the farmer up.   So he goes on his own, but he takes my camera - here is a taste of the show from his photographs.   Hope you enjoy them. 

The top picture shows the champion beef bull.   Although he is a black and white chap he is, in fact, a Belgian Blue.  The second picture is of Pedigree Limousins and the one below of Pedigreen Holstein milking cows.   The two trotting horses were very smartly turned out.   The brown horse won the class.   Then after various breeds of sheep there is one photograph of the Bedale Hunt just after they entered the ring.

More photographs tomorrow of the produce tent.

Friday, 28 August 2015

That time of year.

I will not mention ****** because my son said to me the other day,
'you haven't mentioned ****** yet Mum, what's happened, you have usually mentioned it by now!'.

But I have just been for a walk down the lane with Tess - a very short walk I might add as it began to rain after we had gone a hundred yards or so.   Two things struck me.   The first is that the air is full of the noise of crows - mostly rooks I suspect.   They are beginning to congregate together as they do every year once the breeding season is past.   The field opposite had whole crop barley in it and has been cut.   As I went out of the gate it was black over with rooks but when I pointed my camera at them they rose as one before I had time to click.  It is always good to see them there as as well as picking up any corn that has been left their sharp beaks also dig deep for crane fly larva.

The other sight was of swallows gathered on the line in the yard.  It has not been a good year here for swallows.   We usually  have a dozen or more nests and this year we have had only three.   How many babies have been reared it is difficult to say but certainly the numbers gathering on the wires is far less than other years.  I understand also that because this is a poor year for voles (this happens every four years or so) not many barn owl chicks have survived.

The good news is that the farmer is away baling up that hay as I write.   It is not first (or even second) class stuff having been rained on every day for almost a fortnight, but it has to be baled in order to move it off the grass before the grass grows through it.   The bad news is that on the last row of rowing up his hay bob broke beyond repair, cracking straight down the middle.   Luckily this is his last lot of haymaking this year so he doesn't have to think about a replacement for now - particular so when I think of the state of his knee and his hip, both candidates for replacement soon.

 It is our August Bank Holiday week-end in the UK and today is a lovely day with just the occasional shower.    As it is our Wensleydale Show tomorrow (just up the road from the farm) we are keeping our fingers crossed that it will be a good day too.

I don't any longer attend as I am not mobile enough to walk all that way, but I have persuaded the farmer to take my camera, so watch this space.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

How important is music in your life?

My son (made out of words on my side bar) has written a piece this morning which includes a paragraph on practising Haydn and it set me thinking on the role of music in peoples' lives.

These days with all the modern ways of getting at recorded music almost everyone listens to music all the time.   Not me because my hearing problem is such that music is distorted and I prefer not to listen.

But how different things would have been a hundred years ago.  Harvest is much on my mind ( we still have not been able to bale our hay and it is more or less ruined) and enhanced by Thelma's (North Stoke) picture of the Eric Ravilious harvest scene I thought of the days when the field would have been full of farm workers scything the wheat, stacking it, threshing it, and all the other jobs harvest time entailed.   Nowadays one chap on a tractor more or less does it all, music playing in his tractor cab.   But what sort of music would the harvesters then have had?   Maybe the church bells - although probably some of them would have been bell ringers themselves and they couldn't be in two places at once.

That leaves us with just two places (I am not speaking of course of town dwellers who had opportunities to go to concerts if they could afford it) - making music at home or church.

In the thirties we had a piano at home which I played a lot.   I also sang a lot while playing it, and in the church choir on Sundays.   I played the organ and we would go round the villages singing various Cantatas - The Creation and The Messiah were always popular around Easter and Christmas times.   The churches would be full of people who wanted to hear live music.

We would listen to music on the radio - Bing Crosby, Vera Lynn, 
gradually ways of listening to music increased until now there are so many ways that it has almost become part of the background.

Is music important in your life?


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Scots Pines

On the West side of our farmhouse we have a dozen or so Scots Pine trees which have been there since the house was built at the beginning of the twentieth century.   They are higher than our roof and really make a good windbreak as our prevailing wind is from the west.   They also shelter the drive from the rain very nicely.  In Winter they make a splendid roost for pheasant and we usually have twenty or so who fly up into them every night to escape any
marauding foxes.   They congregate on the garden wall each night at dusk and are lovely to watch.

They have one great drawback - and that is Pine Needles.   At this time of the year on a windy day like today the air rains pin needles as they fly off the trees and cover the lawns, the footpaths, the patio, the gutters around the house.   They get everywhere.   You can go out with a brush and sweep them away from the back door and go out again ten minutes later and it will be as bad.

Does anyone know a use for pine needles?   I wonder if the monks at nearby Jervaulx Abbey stuffed their palliases with them or something.   Even on the compost heap they take ages to rot down.  So they go on to the bonfire.

The first whole day without rain (although it is looking a bit cloudy at present) so the farmer went to shake up his hay.   He says it is looking 'a bit sad' to use his words.   But he is still hopeful that he will eventually be able to get some bales out of it.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Today's News

Today, as so often happens, I had finished all my library books so I trawled along my shelves to look for something to read.   Often I choose one of my travel books; now that I can't travel so far I enjoy reading about other people doing it; second-hand travel is better than no travel at all.

But today I chose that other good old standby - one of the many books I possess written by Ronald Blythe.   I am a great admirer of this Suffolk /Essex border writer, whose books are a mixture of notes about natural history, religious writing, interesting facts about all kinds of things.  Although I am not at all religious I even get pleasure from reading these bits as he does throw new light on the topic.I only read for about half an hour but long enough to give me food for thought.

He talks about depressing news every day on radio and television; about wars and rumours of wars; about immigrants; about fatal accidents; about drugs; about murders (these being the topics covered on the 6pm television news this evening).   And he suggests that these things are nothing new - things have always been thus but only in the days since the Second World War has 
communication been such that we all know about it.

Imagine the news on television at the time of the Crusades (,there was plenty of cruelty in the name of religion there), or the mass exodus of people in the days of King Herod.  Or imagine seeing the beheading of Anne Boleyn played out on television or the Charge of the Light Brigade.

But of course, what has also changed is the ferocity of the weapons used, the mass killing power, the air power, the atomic weapons.
Nevertheless, it is a point worth thinking about.

And taking this time thing from another angle, he also speaks of how much further we travel these days and how communication has changed out of all recognition.    Even a hundred years ago
ordinary folk usually lived in close proximity to other members of their family (apart from the brave souls who set out for the New World).   Anyone who lived 'away' could bank on rarely seeing their relatives.It did become easier with the arrival of the train.

Blythe suggests we read W H Auden's 'There is no change of place'
(not easy to understand but then poetry is never easy is it?).   As Fuller says in the crit the poem is based on the paradox that improved communications have brought about a state whereby we all find it easier to communicate at a distance.   As I am sure you know by now, I am a poetry lover.   I have just downloaded the poem from the internet and shall sit and read it a few times in an effort to understand what Auden is saying.   Then I shall read it at our Poetry afternoon tomorrow.   A good poem says a lot in few words.

Finally, if you want a treat, go to Thelma's (North Stoke on my sidebar) site to see Eric Ravillious's beautiful harvest painting.   For, like poetry, art says a lot in no words at all, and his painting of harvest in the early part of the twentieth century says so much - how harvesting has changed, what beauty there is to be seen in a simple country scene, and above all the tragedy of a young life cut short by war (Ravillious was killed in 1942).   The image of such a peaceful harvest scene contrasted with the image one conjures up of an artist cut short in his prime is worth a thousand words.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Laziness kicks in sometimes.

Yesterday was a lovely sunny, breezy day - just right for drying the hay and we had high hopes.   Then around seven o'clock the dark clouds appeared, the lightning flashed around the sky as it did the night before and it began to pour with rain.   By this morning there had been well over an inch of the stuff - our hay lying in the field must be floating.

Me - the novice as far as hay is concerned - pleaded with the farmer to go round by the field on our way back from our celebration Wedding Anniversary lunch.   I just wanted him to look how it was getting on after such a lovely day.

He said it was best to just leave it alone.   And how right he was.   Had he shaken it up it would have been even worse.   He told me that one year when he was a child they had hay lying for three weeks before it was dry enough to collect in.   And it was some of the best hay they had ever had.   And that in the days when hay was really vital to winter feed.

Best to leave it to the professionals.

As my heading suggests - I slept badly and am now thinking of getting tea ready.   Laziness has kicked in and I shall blog no more today.   Have a nice evening.   Incidentally, after a reasonable day today black clouds are gathering - maybe a repeat performance?

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Food for free.

Yesterday morning the farmer picked a pound of field mushrooms - beautiful young ones because left for long and they become full of maggots.   We had them for lunch cooked in butter with garlic and parsley and then made into omelettes.  With them we had peas picked straight from the vegetable garden.   Our own eggs, parsley and mushrooms - only the garlic had been bought in) - and some of the peas - I have frozen many bags for future use.  Only the garlic was bought; we have tried growing it but I fear we are too far North for it to be a great success.  There is a certain feeling of satisfaction at food for free (money that is, not hard work).  I had some nectarines which were obviously not going to ripen so I stewed them gently with a little sugar and we ate them with creme fraiche - delicious lunch.  Each to his own taste, looking at the photo below!

We were not the only ones to have food for free.   A female sparrow hawk swooped over the hedge opposite our kitchen window and snatched a collared dove.  Within a couple of minutes it had dragged it under the holly bush and proceeded to eat it.  Half an hour later it was still there and when something disturbed it it flew off for about ten minutes then returned to finish off its meal.  Gory and grotesque it might have been but then nature is cruel and the hawk has to eat. 

My son did not run in the veteran's race.   From early yesterday evening it was continuous sheet lightning all around us and there were occasional heavy showers.   The fell race takes place up Penn Hill and the ground would be wet and slippery - broken ankles are a real possibility.   By the time for Burning of Bartle the weather had improved somewhat - so I presume they went to see that - I shall no doubt find out later.

Lovely day here today.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

All friends together for a jolly night out with a friend who has moved away and had come back for the week-end. (second from end on right in stripey cardi).  Sadly it happened on our Wedding Anniversary, so the farmer and I are going out for Sunday lunch instead.

Today (and for the foreseeable future) is going to be heavy rain and thunder - goodness knows about the grass down for hay.   It really does look as though the crop will be lost.  Luckily it is only a small part of the field and not a huge crop, so the situation could be a lot worse.

Today is the West Witton Village Show, West Witton being a village about three miles away from the farm.   The farmer has been a judge there for some years and will be leaving shortly to judge flowers, fruit, vegetables and hay (don't expect there will be much of that this year).

The weather is not important as the whole show is held in the Village Hall and is followed by a Fell Race up the nearby Penn Hill (my son usually runs in the Veterans' Race) and then tonight by the Burning of Bartle - a ceremony which dates back into antiquity in which a figure is paraded through the village while everyone chants a rhyme and the figure is then burnt on the slopes of Penn Hill.   It is all a bit macabre but at least the tradition is kept going.

The rain has just started to fall (9.30am) and the sky is black.  Pity anyone up here on holiday.

Have a good week-end.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

The perils of the weather.

Is anyone asking where has the English Summer gone?   Or is this a typical Summer, so there's no point in asking?

The farmer has only one more lot of haymaking to do - for a nice lady who has four horses.   The weather was pleasant - sunny and breezy, perfect for the job - on Monday so he cut her field. Quite a few people around us did the same thing.

Since then it has rained almost non-stop.   Tuesday was just a damp foggy day with intermittent showers - 5mm all day.   Yesterday it rained more or less all day - another 7mm.   Overnight it was damp and misty.   Today it is warm, occasionally sunny and with a slight breeze, but not enough to dry the grass.   Tomorrow the forecast is similar and then there are two wet days forecast again.

It is difficult not to keep weather-watching and it must be even more difficult for the lady concerned, with four horses to feed over the winter.

Farming is never easy.