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.