Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Agriculture


Today starts the round of local Agricultural Shows in The Yorkshire Dales. First is Reeth Show, scheduled for today and I have to say the weather could not be worse. It is a dismal, dark day with persistent rain. Reeth Showground is at the foot of Fremington Edge - an escarpment - and gathers the water very quickly. On really bad days cars in the car park have to be helped out by tractor at the end of the festivities. But I don't suppose the weather will stop anyone from going. They are hardy folk up here and used to being "close to the weather". Wensleydale Show is on Saturday, Muker Show next Wednesday, Kilnsey Show in Wharfedale is also in that week and then finally Nidderdale Show at Pateley Bridge the next week. All will be hoping for fine weather.

These shows have had to change their format over the years. When they first began, farmers in this area rarely went anywhere and the showground was their annual meeting place, where they could chat to other farmers, meet friends, talk to their feed merchants, show their cattle. Their wives could show off their baking skills by entering all the classes for food. If they were gardeners they could show off their prize sweet peas, dahlias, begonias, chrysanthemums.

But, of course, life is not like that any more and farmers are as likely to travel as anyone else - they even whiz round their fields on quad bikes these days.

So the shows have become more varied in an effort to attract holidaymakers to the area as well.

But we shall be there at the Wensleydale Show on Saturday, whatever the weather - if only for the delicious beef sandwiches our feed merchant makes for our lunch. We can sit in his marquee and look at the proceedings over a cup of tea and that lovely beef.

And, speaking of beef, brings me to the photograph above. Autumn is well advanced up here. Seeded plants line the roadsides, horse-chestnut trees are beginning to turn golden and drop their "conkers" for little boys to collect, and the mist is beginning to rise in the evening. A couple of nights ago the farmer called me to look out at the way the mist was rising in the fields. It was dusk, the sky was a clear pale blue and a ribbon of mist lay just above the ground. It was beautiful. I went out into the front garden and took this picture of the cattle in the field. I took it first in normal auto mode and all I got was a dark shot with gleaming eyes, but switching to night mode produced this shot where you can just see the mist beginning to form.

The cattle are our neighbour's Limousin heifers. This breed is thought to be an ancient breed - even the cattle in Lascaux caves are thought to represent it. They originated in central France (Limousin and Marche areas) where there is a rugged, rocky, harsh climate, hence their sturdiness. They make good beef, lean but marbled with a low bone density. They were first imported into Britain at Leith docks in 1971, when 179 bulls and heifers arrived. By 1986 the Limousin had taken first place in front of the Hereford breed in the beef carcase class - and it still holds that position today. They are a bit frisky for my liking but the colour is very beautiful and they have the most lovely eyes!

There will be some at the show on Saturday, when local breeders still take pride in entering the cattle classes. We shall be walking round the marquee to look at them. I shall be taking photographs.


# With regard to our yesterday's bookshelf - several blog friends have posted late entries, so I shall now go over and add them to the list - there is still plenty of room!


## Thanks to the Limousin Cattle Society website for the information on the breed.

26 comments:

Dave King said...

Interesting post - nothing unusual there. Very interesting to read that autumn is well advanced up there. The gardeners down here have been complaining for some time that Autumn has come very early. The birds, too, seem to b e disappearing almost before they'd arrived.

Studio Sylvia said...

Hello Pat. I chose you for a MeMe Award! Go to my blog and download the award, share 7 pieces of info about yourself and choose 7 bloggers to extend the award to! Cheers.

steven said...

hello weaver, a lovely post full of doings! ahh conkers. i remember those little guys well in schoolyard battles. have a lovely day in the dale. steven

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Just catching up on reading! Lots of good photos; your anniversary drive; interesting book choices and the field walk! I like the Limousin cattle pic too.

We found ourselves in your neck of the woods yesterday, in an unplanned sort of way. Driving back up from Oxfordshire, we spent the night at Oulton Hall near Leeds and then back up the A1(M) via Newcastle. But we came off the main road and drove through Bedale (busy), Leyburn (attractive and larger than I might have imagined) and on into Richmond for coffee and cake! If I had known the route in advance, I could have spied you out! We saw plenty of signs for shows, including one village with a duck race! The weather was great and so much better than today - oh well!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Dave - the swifts left here without breeding this year - they only seemed to be here a week or two. Already the swallows are on the wire discussing Africa.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sylvia - thank you very much for the award. I will try to pop over and collect it when I have time, and also pass it on.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Steven - would you believe steven that children are not allowed to play conkers in the playground any more - health and safety rules forbid it - the world has gone mad.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Derrick - I am very cross with you. You could have had coffee and cake at the farm and it would have been lovely to meet you both. If you went on the Leyburn to Richmond road you would have passed within a hundred yards of our farm. Do not do this again - you really must call and see us next time. Glad you liked Leyburn - it is a friendly little town. I was there for an hour after lunch yesterday but of course I would not know you if I saw you - ships that pass in the night (or rather the afternoon).

Heather said...

I do hope the weather will relent for the weekend Weaver. It makes everything easier for all to have a fine or even just a dry day. Your photograph is beautiful - even here in the SW there are signs of autumn already. Have a good time at the show and I'm looking forward to seeing your photos.

Leenie said...

Your agricultural shows sound very much like our county and state fairs. Our fairs include home arts and hobbies along with the display of agricultural products and animals. The bigger fairs include carnival rides. As you said, the best part may be the food. Our Eastern Idaho State Fair will be in a week. And it lasts a week. If we go I will plan on plenty of tasty treats mixed with dust from the arena.

Leenie said...

btw--we have very few chestnut trees around here. I am guessing the prickly seed pods are what you are calling "conkers." Sometime you need to explain the forbidden playground game.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Heather - thanks for the comment - it seems that Autumn is coming early everywhere.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Leenie - it sounds very similar to our shows except that I suspect yours are much larger and probably feature a lot of horse - riding.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Leenie - conkers are the brown, shiny "nuts" inside the green prickly shells of horse chestnut fruit. Little boys over the centuries have baked them in the oven to harden them, strung them on string and played a game of each trying to hit the opponents conker. The winner is the one who'e conker stays undamaged the longest.

Linda said...

How serene is your misty pasture? The cattle are beautiful in their colour and their detailing. The mistyness adds to their quiet contentment. I hope the weather improves for the Agricultural Shows in your area. I'm never ready for summer to end. I am sensing the early arrival of fall as well.

Robin Mac said...

What an interesting post - as usual. The ag shows there are similar to our country shows here in Australia. Autumn has come early to you over there, but spring has missed us by almost here in Northern Australia - straight into very hot summer temperatures already, and an early bushfire season.

gleaner said...

I like how blogging gives us an instanteous look at current world weather patterns - we are still in winter here but in the last few days we woke to instant summer temps and days of 35 degrees (which is very unusual even for our winters). It seems we bypassed spring and summer has arrived.

Titus said...

Hi Weaver, "Nidderdale" is going to be my word of the week.
Lovely stuff for a butcher and slaughterer's daughter to read, especially the change in beef cattle breeds. I can remember the Herefords my father bought at the Smithfield Show every year - their pictures and rosettes went on display in the Butcher's Shop, along with the (hung by then) meat.
And yes, it is starting to get nippy now!

Sara said...

I walk the same walk virtually every day with my dogs & never tire of it just because it changes so much between the Four Seasons. I've noticed leaves starting to turn here & blackberries are ripe for picking. Harvests are being gathered & the evenings are sometimes full of the sound of farm machinery working late into the gloom. You can see trails of straw leading to the badger sets, so they must be refreshing their bedding ready to cosy down as the evenings become chilly. The nights are really drawing in & hens must be safely shut in earlier & earlier. I used to hate the change to Autumn when I lived in a town, but it is magical here in the countryside :-)

Pondside said...

Another beautiful photo and informative post. I'd love to attend one of those fall fairs. We have them over here too, but they are less and less agricultural and more and more carnival-like.

Janice Thomson said...

I remember a few years back waiting outside at the post office under a chestnut tree in the fall and a blast of wind knocked them against my face... ouch! Fall is arriving early here too - geese have taken to the skies already...they must know something we don't...

Cloudia said...

Interesting agrarian post!

Aloha-

Comfort Spiral

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I hope your weather improves.

Sounds like the local county fair when I was a kid. Great fun. Farmers came in from all over. Flowers, exhibits. I would like to go with you.

Arija said...

Ha, ha, Limousins a BIT frisky? They're downright or'nery in the stock yards and an absolute cow to get into the cattle truck.
We now have beautiful Sharolays as quiet as a nun's hen.
Your autumn seems to be as early as our spring.

Twisted willow said...

Autumn's creeping - no, rushing - in here too, Weaver. The leaves on the Liquidamber tree have suddenly started to take on a red colour - a sure sign.
The shows are much the same here in Ireland, although they probably retain more of the 'old friends and families getting together' element that some of the UK shows. Used to love going to the Kilnsey show. Such a wonderful setting under the crag.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to the rest of you for your comments - do read Arija - it did make me laugh - but very true.