Follow the fortunes of Muddyboots & Family on their East Yorkshire farm which has changed from dairy farm to luxury ice cream manufacture

Monday, 21 April 2008

swallows and oil seed rape

At last, we have blue sky and a look of Spring about the place. For the past few weeks, the weather has been, well, chilly. Cold easterlies blowing off the North Sea. Grey, rain sodden clouds, snow flurries, hail, gales, need l say more? So, it was with some relief that on peering out from behind the curtains this morning, the sky was blue, the birds were singing, well it is April after all.

At last, a morning dog walk without the need for woolly hats and scarves! Today's perambulation took us through the oil seed rape field which at last is showing signs of bursting forth into a blaze of gaudy day-glow yellow [and the accompanying sneezes]. Up until fairly recently, l have only associated rape seed oil as a means of frying food, you find plastic bottles of the stuff, next to the vegetable oils, well, last year at a 'Meet the Buyer' event l learnt otherwise. It can be cold pressed, rather like olive oil, and is rather moorish, a cross between olive and a nut oil, not as heavy as olive oil though. Look out for the stuff! Well, as l was wading, waist deep along the tram lines, low and behold on glancing skyward, which one does at regular intervals just in case something interesting is crashing towards you, there, swooping and diving above the golden flowers was about, oh I'd say about a dozen swallows, the first of the season. Wonderful sight! More have been flying in as the day has progressed, returning to their favourite nesting spots, in the barns and sheds on the farm.

So, Spring is on its way, the leaves are starting to burst forth, nest boxes are being claimed and you can now find our ice cream in both tesco and ASDA in select parts of Yorkshire.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Staff - leaving and coming

Life has now calmed down, somewhat. The schools have gone back which means that Peace and Calm returns to just about everywhere, supermarket queues, shops and of course Mr Moo's. Bliss!

This week sees the start of a new seasonal part-timer and the final week of our friendly Iranian, MK, who leaves to become a truck driver or something like that as mentioned in an earlier posting.

The joys of employing people and trying to find suitable candidates for seasonal work, is not exactly an easy task. Living in a rural area does bring the major problem of just finding people who want to work. Most of the work around here is seasonal and the majority, [especially in the seaside towns], of jobs are taken by Eastern Europeans, who are happy to work for the summer season and then return home, locals who are in the Job Market, tend to look further afield to say Hull, York or Leeds, leaving local businesses with the option of the long term unemployed sent in via the Job Centre.

Our solution is to use University students who are home for the summer; the only spanner in the works is the August Bank Holiday. Leeds Fest, the music festival, which entices staff away with the promise of warm beer, class C drugs and music. So it is after much brain wrenching and cogitating, we have decided that this year we really can't take on staff who intent to be up, up and away over what will be our busiest weekend of the year. Sorry chaps!

Lets hope for a good batch of trainee summer staff, the criteria is, bright, articulate, CLEAN and to have at least some smattering of common sense!

Finally, l am waving my Free Tibet flag!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Calories and nesting boxes

It is amazing that no matter what the weather is doing and no matter how cold or miserable it is outside, people like to eat ice cream. Cones, ice cream sodas or sundaes, it makes not one iota of difference, they just need ice cream. I wonder why? Is it a treat, a feel good little something that helps lift the gloom of a manky day? Or is it a case or 'sod the diet, let me at those calories'. What ever the reason, if it makes people happy then, blow the diet or health police!

We are now in the final throws of the school Easter holidays, so are seeing an influx of small people being taken out for the day by grandparents. It is an interesting point that most children are better behaved when out with Gran than with parents. l am not saying that all family groups are badly behaved, but that some are. Nothing is worse than little johnny racing around pretending to be a transformer whilst parents sit sipping coffee.

So here we are then. April. Sun shinning, light westerly breeze, dare l say it, a slight rise in air temperature? The grass has not really started moving [growing] yet, looks like a late turn out? The bird boxes have all got new residents, blue tits and house sparrows, there are a couple of pairs of oyster catchers on the hill top fields, staking out territory. These are noisy birds, shrieking when disturbed. At this time of year, we have to restrict the dogs from certain areas as these are prime nesting sites for things like mallard and waders.

Living here, on the coast, we are a bit limited as to which direction to head for on days out. Fortunately for us, there is plenty of dramatic scenery within an hour's drive. To the north, and probablely first choice, [except on weekends], is Whitby. The most leisurely route is through Forge Valley, then the twisty turny road up to Silpho, on via Hackness, hitting the main Scarborough to Whitby road just south of Boggle Hole, across the moors, past Hawsker until the ruined abbey of St Hilda's stands out on the skyline, where land meets sea, looking to all and sundry like the bleached ribs of some long dead whale.

Whitby is a little bit of all sorts. There are a scattering of amusement arcades, a plethora of fish and chip restaurants, long sweeping piers taking you out into the north sea, historic lanes and alleyways, ruined abbeys, ancient churches, 199 steps plus the Grand Turk moored alongside the quay. All to much!
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