Dark Peak Wedding Present


3rd Nov - We have sold all the calves to Blacker Hall Farm Shop. and are pleased with the price we got. This year the calves have all done very well but we also have a lot more Feb / March born ones so they are well grown now. We have scanned all the cows and heifers. Only 3 cows and 2 heifers are not in calf. One of the heifers we are having for our freezer; I hate taking young heifers in but will forget about it when the freezer is full and we have excellent beef to eat.

Next weekend we will bring the cows and calves in. Mary Garthwaite will collect the calves. The cows only miss the calves for a couple of days as they are now 6/7 months pregnant again and are not making a lot of milk for their calves now; in fact we often see them purposefully ignoring their calves and grazing as far away as possible! It will be good to get them inside since it has turned so wet and windy.

Grinah and her calf in the background                                                                                                                Barrow's calf


15th September - It's been a great summer really. Both Grinah and Barrow's calves are doing very well.. The bulls have now been taken out of the cows (with 9 months gestation we want the cows to finish calving by June 2014). We have scanned the 30 heifers and all Harry's (10 of) are in calf. Fernando got 17 out of 20 in calf so we left those heifers with him a bit longer but it could be crunch time next week when we've booked the scanner man again.

The bulls are now with the in calf heifers - Harry didn't try and contest any superiority and actually looks up to Alan very much. Fernando and Elvis are now in the same field and there wasn't much of a contest there either as Fernando has eaten most of the pies and is quite a bit bigger than Elvis. They are quite funny as Elvis "bumps" into Fernando quite often with a "oops, sorry didn't see you there" before running off !!

In October / November we will sell all the calves and bring the cows / heifers / bulls inside but we are hoping that the weather will stay favourable this year so we can leave them out as long as possible as we have lots of grass that is in sheltered spots.

8th May - We have turned Grinah and calf out onto Briar Knowle fields (with 21 more cows and calves) and Barrow and calf onto Fawcetts (with 21 more cows and calves). We separate them by age of calf - Grinah's group all calved in February and Barrow's in March. Elvis is now with Fawcetts group and Alan with Briar Knowle group.

Harry is only having 10 small heifers in his first year and we'll put Fernando with 14 bigger heifers and the rest of the  March/April calvers so he will have 30 in his group.

                                            Elvis                                                                                                                                                    Harry



                                            Fernando                                                                                                                                                        Alan


6th May - Grinah and calf on Briar Knowle - note how skinny Grinah and all the cows are. That is because the silage wasn't very good (lack of sunshine last summer). It does show she is a good mother because her calf is doing well on the milk she is making.




28th April - Nearly all the cows and heifers have calved - we only have 6 still to calve. Since the snow has gone we have been getting ready for turning out however the cold weather has meant the grass is not growing enough. By the end of next week we hope to turn about half of the cattle out because we need to get the bulls in with them so that in 2014 they will calve again in Feb/March. We have bought two new bulls; a young one we have named Harry who is 15 months old and a four year old bull who was called Eldrond (anyone know what that means?) but we have - with Andy Heading's help - renamed him Elvis!! We collected him on Friday and put him outside with six "not in calf" cows. I'll take photos of them all and put them up this week. Grinah will be grouped with Alan while Barrow (having a younger calf) with either Elvis or Fernando.


24th March - Barrow has calved ! Or rather once again we helped her as we found her at 6am wandering round with two feet and a tongue poking out and not knowing how long she had been like that we got the ropes on the feet and pulled! Out came a reasonably sized cafe with a swollen tongue but he was soon on his feet and having breakfast from mum.

Grinah's calf meanwhile is growing well, as are all the calves we had so far (now up to 46). The snow did get in the sheds quite a bit but with extra straw we have managed to keep everyone dry and warm.




10th March - Grinah's calf is now doing very well and has many friends now (33 calves have been born in total). The wet and foggy weather isn't as good for them and so we welcome a change back to clear and cold. Grinah's calf  is sat here with No 70 (blue tags for girls, yellow tags for boys - with the same number as their mother so we always pair them up correctly).


24th Feb - I still can't get the video to work. For a few days last week Grinah's calf was quiet and sat with his ears down. Yesterday I felt his navel and discovered that he has an infection in it. We injected him yesterday with penicillin and this morning he was doing laps of the shed looking a lot happier. The problem now is that we have to catch him everyday for 3 to 5 days to continue the course. Eventually I caught him while he was asleep today and gave him his 2nd dose. Barrow isn't going to calve for a couple of weeks yet but we've been very busy in the shed and have 12 calves now in there with another 4 in the "cows" shed.


18th Feb - well the video came out very dark and I spent 3 hours yesterday trying to edit it, with no success. It's in MP4 format and nothing we have will edit it and I couldn't get the software I downloaded to do what I wanted so uninstalled it. I'll take some reliable photos now instead.

The calf was a bit dopy yesterday and wasn't sucking properly. That's what happens after a slow birth as their nose is swollen as a result of being squashed in the vagina opening for hours (too much information?). Anyway this morning the nose is normal size and the calf a lot happier being able to suck properly.




16th February 2013 - 8.15pm - well that was nerve racking. At 3pm Grinah started to calve wandering round the shed, tail up. By 5pm all she had done was sat down, pushed, got up, sat down, got up, etc but no feet or anything could be seen. Steve came back at 6pm and feet could be seen. We waited and waited but by 7.30 nothing was happening and she had gone to eat what was left of the silage so we decided to put some ropes on the calves feet and try and pull it out. I crept up and got the ropes on and waved to Steve to come in. At this point I applied pressure to the ropes to stop her getting up and the calf's head appeared with the tongue lolling out (not a good sign) so I pulled harder and the whole calf just slipped out. Mother and calf are now penned up together in our maternity ward.

I video'd it all with our GoPro camera so I'll go and see the footage now and try and get it up here tomorrow! Not for viewing while eating your tea - I will warn you!


10th October 2012 - We drove up to Ruswarp market today to watch the first sale of "suckled calves". "Suckled calves" are those calves that have spent their first 6 to 9 months with their mother and so have grown up with the benefit of their mother's milk and attention. We sell our suckled calves privately to Blacker Hall Farm Shop and now is the time that we need to be working out what they are worth as they are sold in November and weaned from their mothers at "coming in time".

3rd October 2012 - Today we got the vet out to "pd" (pregnancy diagnose) our 38 heifers (young females that have not calved) which include Grinah and Barrow. Barrow was very well behaved and came through the crush quite early on and was scanned well in calf probably due about April. Grinah held back and was in the last 10 to be tested and was quite skittish. She was also scanned in calf due about March. 36 out of 38 of the heifers were in calf so that is a very good result. The 2 that aren't have to go to Bramhalls as they had a good chance "at the bull" and so it is not worth keeping them to try again another year.

So it's well done to the Lads! We won't be able to tell who is the father until they actually calve when we will be able to calculate from the calving date. Alan and Fernando are very settled now in their shed especially as it's horrible weather.


2nd September - That's summer over then. The fields recovered and we managed to silage in the rain and so free up some more grass for the cattle. Now everything has plenty of grass and we are hoping they can stay out a long time yet as we are struggling to get all the straw we need. We ran the bulls in separate groups for 10 weeks, then moved Fernando to a smaller group and gave Alan the heifers; just in case Fernando had got tired! But I think not as Alan seemed unable to find anything that needed his undivided attention. We have now got the bulls out and they are once again in the shed together but very relaxed (in fact we think they have requested a flat screen TV and some lager!). This is a photo of them in the field together - Alan on the right - he has changed beyond recognition from the bull we bought in spring.



16th May - Well - the heifers have been out for a month and the field doesn't look anything as nice as this now. With all the rain and cold the heifers have walked round and round and churned it all up so it now resembles a ploughed field. We have rolled it flat twice but it is still soft and they are still making hoofprints in it.

So today we turned the cows and calves out of the shed onto other fields that have lots of grass. We then got the shed ready with bedding and feed and opened the gate out of the field. All the heifers walked straight out with Fernando (who has been there for two weeks now) and into the shed where they are now eating silage.

We hope just to keep them in a week / 10 days so that we can fertilise and roll the field again and hope it recovers. There are no more fields available for them until after we have silaged in June.

                        Unrolled piece                                                                                                                                 3/4 of the field is rolled and now tillaged.



Grinah back in the shed with Barrow, 32 other heifers and Fernando                                                                       Fernando taking a well earned snooze.                                                    



15th April - Although the weather is still cold and we have had a lot of rain we decided that the "cubicle" shed was getting very full of cows and calves and the younger calves were suffering as a result so we made the decision to turn the "bulling heifers" outside. Bulling heifers are young cows that haven't had a calf that are ready for the bull. So now there are 34 heifers (including Grinah and Barrow) on 21 acre. We will turn Fernando out with them at the end of April so that they start calving at the beginning of February (285 days gestation).


Then we moved four young calves and their mothers along with 9 cows / heifers still to calve into the "middle" shed leaving the "cubicle" shed much emptier. We also called the vet out to this calf who had had a bad start to life as he had very slow birth and for four days I had been bottle feeding him as he wasn't interested in sucking. His mother was also kicking him and me when I tried to get him to. So when I went in one morning and saw him sucking I thought we were home and dry. An hour later he couldn't walk - his clumsy mother had stood on his leg. We called the vet out to confirm that the leg was broken but he said no it was the nerves so the calf couldn't stop his knuckle giving way. The vet gave us a course of anti inflammatories for him and said that was all he could do. I suggested we could splint the leg and the vet said we could give a go. So I made a splint out of a drainage pipe taped to his leg with gaffa tape and amazingly he very soon was up and about on it.


4th April 2012 - We had a large dump of snow last night and have discovered a major flaw in the Bull Pen - it faces North and thats where the snow was coming from. Alan and Fernando were not impressed. Its a good thing its passed over now (4pm) and we've given them new bedding which they gratefully sat on. A modification for next winter is required.

                                        Fernando - hiding out the wind                                                                Alan - "I'm from Ullverstun and ard"


Also yesterday we had the first of Fernando's calves. A week early and so a little small and her mother (no 6) doesn't have much milk but she's on "extra rations" and the pair are doing very well in their "maternity pen". So far we had 34 calves and have 17 left to calve.


16th February 2012 - We've been looking for an "older bull" as this spring we will hopefully have 50 cows and 30 heifers to bull which probably needs three bulls. We saw one advertised near Ulverston last week and went to look at him. He wasn't too big, is 6 six years old, very quiet and the right money so we bought him. On Thursday we collected him and introduced him to Fernando in the new "bull pen" we have made. They had a few tussles which Alan won and seem to be settling down now.

                                Fernando                                                                                                                                                             Alan



13th Dec- Excellent news on the fertility front. We had the vet to pregnancy test 27 cows on the 26th Nov and 26 were in calf which is a brilliant result. She couldn't come to Pd the heifers until yesterday so they had to stay outside until then. I felt very sorry for them in all that wet and windy weather and they were very glad to be coming in at last. Included in the 27 heifers that we had to Pd were the 8 heifers that Fernando was with during summer; this was going to be a test of his fertility. Once again brilliant results with 26 heifers being in calf. Fernando only missed 1 which is a very good result and as she is still only a youngster we will keep her until 2012 and try again next year to get her pregnant.

So the sheds are very full. One shed has 34 "bulling heifers" in it which include Grinah (93) and Barrow (90) who are now very strong heifers indeed. These heifers we will "bull" in spring/ summer 2012 and calve in 2013 getting our numbers back up to 80ish. This shed also has 6 cows and calves which were born in late autumn.


The other shed has 52 in calf cows and heifers due February to May 2012 and Fernando (who wishes he was in the "other" shed. Not till next year lad!!!). Since we have so many cows / heifers to calve we will need the new shed we have been putting up this year to move some into once they have calved. We know from experience that if we have more than 40 in this shed after calving we just have a lot of problems with calf pneumonia / scours etc.

We also have 12 Limousin heifer calves who are 4 months old who will grow up to be heifer replacements for 2013/14. Its a long process in farming...


9th Oct - Fernando has been grazing a field with five pregnant cows and then in August we put 8 young heifers (who are 18 months old) in with them. They "ran together" for two months then we took the heifers out of the field. This is so they will only calve in April and May next year.

Fernando then had to be separated from the pregnant cows as they were calving and we also did not want them served again. He was very upset about being put in a stable on his own - not surprising as he won't have ever have been on his own before. Steve had made a reinforced door and we were glad of it. After a few days he settled down and now only complains if we are late with his breakfast or tea! Once we bring some more pregnant cows inside we will put him in the big shed with them which he will prefer.

8th Sept 2011 - Grinah and Barrow have been grazing the same field all summer. Initially they had plenty of grass but as the dry summer wore on they had eaten it all by mid August. In early Sept we sperated the group - there was 44 in total into larger quiet heifers (which include G&B) who were split into two groups of 10 and put on new fields away from the farm. The other heifers and "stores" that we will sell are now grazing a field by the farm. We took the opportunity to worm all the heifers against lungworm which is always prevalent in young stock.

28th June 2011 - Last week we went to Pendle and bought a young 15 month old bull off a farm. He is currently inside with three fat pregnant cows for company. We have vaccinated him against BVD and also want to get his feet trimmed. Then he will be able to go out in a field where we have 8 heifers for him that are also 15 months old. He is a pedigree Limousin but unregistered. In accordance with naming rules - ie that each year is given a letter and all stock born in that year is named starting with that letter. The letter for 2010 is "F". We quickly dismissed Fred and Frank as names and have come up with Fernando which suits him very well. He will be put with Grinah and Barrow next spring.

Here he is posing and sniffing bottoms...



5th May 2011 - Today we gave the 22 heifers their second vaccination injection and turned them outside. They look well and are very happy to be outside. We haven't had the results of the BVD tests back yet but don't think either Grinah or Barrow are PI's. We took one out of their group - No 42 who is about a foot smaller than everyone else - it will be interesting to see whether she is a PI or just a runt out of a Welsh Black or something similar.

We have also bought a new bull as unfortunately Adam had to go for slaughter as out of 30 cows he only got 15 pregnant. The new bull is an old hand and hasn't a name. He came from a local farm and we've put him with the older cows as he's quite well grown big being 8 years old!



15th April 2011 - As we have been having fertility problems with the cows we are testing for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea and vaccinating against it. So we have had two days of testing to do - about 50 animals each day. We have designed a new cattle handling yard and built it over the last 3 weeks so this was its first use. As you can see they are much bigger now. We also replaced the number 90 eartag in Barrow's ear so that we can tell her from all the other black ones in the group.

The vets take the blood from the base of the tail. We will find out in a couple of weeks whether we have any Persistent Infectors (PI's) and those we will have to get rid of as they carry and spread the virus all their life.


10th April 2011 - not a lot happened over winter. The calves water froze up in the cold spell and we had to carry water from the house (or rather Jim did as we were in Colombia). They have grown and Barrow has lost her number (90).

25th November - the calves have grown a lot and are now eating proper "cow" food called silage. As all 11 of these calves are Limousin we were looking for some Aberdeen Angus to put in with them. We went to see some that were advertised but when we got there they were 6 to 8 months old and so quite a bit bigger than ours. After much deliberation (as you can't really mix age groups) we bought them. A week later 10 were delivered and have been outside in all the horrid wet, windy weather while we worked like mad to "make" room for them.

Our solution was to move the 11 Limousin calves (incl DPFR ones) into a makeshift pen (it was used by Moxons whitelining to store their paints) .....


And then this Monday (22nd Nov) we were able to bring the AA heifers inside where they are happily dry, warm and have plenty of food. We allocated them new "blue tags" which will be their name for life at Liley Hall Farm!


20th August - we have weaned all the calves off the milk so now they are all together in one pen and on 1kg Calf Weaning Pellets per calf /day (basically half a 25kg bag poured into a long trough). Grinah is the biggest while Barrow is an average size but still friendlier. The smallest of the lot is no 42 who wouldn't drink her milk from the day we bought her and so after a week of getting milk everywhere we weaned her early. She always manages to push into the middle of the trough though and so we're hopeful that she might catch up.


26th July 2010 - Not a lot to report. We have chosen Grinah and Barrow as names. Grinah is the light brown one who is slightly bigger but not as friendly. Barrow is the dark brown friendly one. We are recording how much calf ration they eat morning and night and when they are eating 2kg per day (between them) we can wean them off milk. At the moment they vary between 1 to 1.5kg/day.


14th July 2010 - Names so far   Grinah and Barrow, Abbey and Lady, Kinder and Bleaklow, Floozy Suzi and Flirty Gerty, Heather and Sunshine. Then I thought of Whisky and Sloe Gin

Disbudding done....


8th July 2010 - Both calves are doing well. Drinking their milk twice a day and eating a bit of hay and solid food. This week the task is to disbud them (ie remove their horn buds) - not pleasant but does mean they won't grow horns with which to use on each other and us!


5th July 2010 - Its a year since we were given the wedding present by our DPFR friends of funds to buy ourselves a new bull. But as we already have a perfectly good one (Adam) we planned to get him a couple more girlfriends (heifers) instead. Last year we missed the boat mainly due to organising the wedding - by August all the calves had gone.

Today we have purchased two heifer Limousin calves. Three weeks old and need names.....

Suggestions coming in are Grinah and Barrow, Abbey and Lady, Kinder and Bleaklow.