Monthly Archives: December 2018

Is it daylight yet?


Today was one of those days that we often seem to get in November and December. It felt like the first proper day of Winter.  I went to feed sheep and there was a thick ‘rag’ on the grass. It was covered in frost and the sun was too weak to break through and thaw it.

Because of the combination of fog and cloud the sun itself was a silvery ball you could actually look at with the naked eye, barely brighter than the moon. (A bit like the photograph I’ve borrowed but far less artistic.) From the top of the hill looking round it was interesting. The sea was clear, I could see over the bay to Morecambe and beyond, but looking inland, the fog was clinging to the low hills of Furness.

Something of a first today, I took some hay to a group of dry cows and heifers. It’s the first time we’ve felt that they might need it. Early December and they’re still happy enough eating grass. We’ve needed this mild autumn to make up for the drought in Summer.

Then we took some five month old stirks (young cattle) to sell at our local auction mart. I watched both ‘calves’ and dairy cows sold. The calves, at between two and three months old, were fetching no more than I got for calves at three weeks old back in the 1980s. Perhaps Tesco could start paying their senior managers the same that they paid them back in the 1980s and see how they cope?
It was the same with dairy cows. Prices were good, but I had family who retired back in about 1990 and he averaged about the same amount per cow as you can buy them now.

I remember somebody commenting that when his father retired back in the 1970s, he sold his herd of 60 milk cows and bought a house in the village to retire into. As a tenant farmer, his main asset was his herd of cows.

The son, with his own farm and his own herd, is contemplating retirement. In his case, with 300 cows, he’ll be able to buy a house, but not one as nice as his father could afford, certainly not in the same village.

But anyway, one thing I remembered today, there are few places colder than a December auction mart. We drove home by a different route to drop of the trailer and came over the tops to the village of Urswick. It had virtually disappeared. It sits within a bowl of shallow hills and the bowl was full of fog. We cut back to the coast, everything was clear again. There was almost a hint of sunshine.

I confess I was glad to get inside and use the need to register the movements of the five stirks on the government cattle movements database as a chance to get a coffee and get warmed through again.


There again, if you are feeling the cold, perhaps this is the way to deal with it.

As the reviewer said, “Another great Tallis Steelyard tale.I find there’s nothing better on a cold wet day, than to sit indoors, near a warm fire/radiator, with a hot coffee, some biscuits/cake and one of Jim Webster’s books.

So that’s what I’ve done today, with this particular book. I find the plots intriguing, the characters endearing (even the ‘bad/evil’ ones) and the storytelling style relaxing.

The various threads in the stories are always neatly tied up and the endings invariably satisfactory.”