Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Three Wise Men

They didn’t come from the east, more of a south westerly direction.

Cutting and sticking away at Christmas cards in my girl shed the other day, I thought I heard voices, not from above you understand; but from the field below: and low, it came to pass that three wise men had decided that the old slurry tank in the field would make a great bench for a winter picnic lunch. It seems quite fitting, as my girl shed was once a stable.

Just a quick snap, I didn’t want to disturb them, they looked very contented, with their bales of butties and flasks of tea.

Three wise men_

When they were rested, they set forth, following yonder star, and probably in search of a swift half of beer in the next village.

On Christmas eve, I was more in need of a shepherd than a wise man; the grass being greener on our side of the drystone wall, we had unscheduled visitors .

Sheep Christmas Eve_

We are have a quiet and relaxed day, just the four of us and Spud the dog of course, he exhausted himself with his wrapping paper shredding fest, as is traditional.

Spud Christmas day

Have a lovely Christmas, wherever you may be, especially those who don’t have the chance t rest and relax and have to work.

We liked this decoration, spotted in our local hospital, definitely making the most of what comes to hand to raise a little festive cheer.

Seasons Greetings_


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The Problem Solved

I’m always curious to peep into a box of mystery items, I came across this on my travels this week.

A book, published in 1900. The Problem Solved, a practical treatise on artificial incubation and chicken rearing. What a title.

 The problem solved_

A quick scoot around the Internet shows me that that the title reprinted many times, and translated into French. According to the box, this particular copy was found in a empty farm house that was about to be demolished to make way for a quarry.

Hearson’s Patent Champion Incubator or not, Rocky our cockerel, will be pleased to note that he can’t be cut out of the process of rearing chick.  He has been growing new feather of late, just to let the girls know he is in peak form.

new feathers 2

I know I’ve blogged about new feathers before, but it’s a process that never fails to interest me. The way the quill grows first, the tip breaks off and the new feather emerges like a fine paint brush

new feathers 3

Here he’s giving them a bit of a ruffle.  Clever isn’t it?

new feathers 4


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Other Routes are Available

I’m not a fan of the A515, if I can find an alternative route I will.  Especially if it is as photogenic as this,

High Wheeldon_

It’s taken near High Wheeldon 

I was returning from Hartington Wakes Show, which had a lovely atmosphere, and is set in a beautiful location. I even bumped into my geography teacher from secondary school, he was fresh out of university back then, and now he is retired…  don’t know how that happened, it doesn’t seem so long ago that I left school.

Vintage tractors, horses a plenty.

Hartington 6

A sheepdog herding ducks, and ladders for every occasion, not sure how you are supposed to get them home.

Hartington 5

Prize livestock

Hartington show

Of all sizes

Hartington 3

A glowing produce tent (my Chinese lanterns, never even flowered, only just surviving the slugs). 

Hartington 7

I wonder what the farms of the future will look like for these young competitors

Hartington show 3


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Hope Show

I was out and about at Hope Show yesterday, an agricultural show in the glorious Hope Valley.  The weather could have been finer,  but people weren’t going to let a little rain dampen their day.

Hope show

After all, it is a day off from the usual chores.

Tractor Hope show

It’s always great to see young people being so proud of their livestock.

Young handlers Hope show

working really hard to show them at their best,

Young handler 2  Hope show

It takes team work.

My little pony Hope show

A winner  eats it all.

Winner eats it all  Hope show


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Working with Nature

We’ve been visiting this part of Devon for many years, having our summer holidays here for the last 14 years; with each passing year we’ve noted the village of East Portlemouth  struggled to keep its community vibrant (no criticism intended, we know  a committed team work hard at many events) but the fact is there are less villagers and more holiday homes,  as an older generation passes. Indeed Mr Uphilldowndales aunt N was one of that community

So it was very exciting to see (and hear)  a new vibrancy to the village that has been brought my new tenants of the farm that wraps itself around the village, the aptly named Village Farm. The farm has lain unworked for a number of years and now its not so much being worked, as nourished, regenerative farming ;  delivered with an infectious enthusiasm and acres of passion.  I could try and describe their work, but I couldn’t do it as eloquently or a knowledgably,  So I’ll send you to the website of Village Farm,  do watch the video.

They use a method of grazing called ‘mob grazing’ a large number of animals, sheep in this case, in a small area of land for a short period of time, you’ll have to believe me if I tell you there are 800 in here somewhere…  happily and noisily munching away.

Village farm 10

Here they are coming down the village, with resident neighbours willingly mucking in with traffic and sheep herding (no dogs were used)

Village farm 7

They can move at quite a pace

Village farm 8

A view from the other side of the estuary gives an idea of what’s involved, this field, which will house the Field of Light, later in the year was grazed over three days

Village farm 11

Then it was time to move on to pastures new, with the sheep back off up the village again.

Village farm 3

The photographs on Village Farm’s facebook page are gorgeous, the sort of work that oozes from knowing your subject, field skills and, as mentioned,  acres of passion .

(We can’t wait to see the pigs next year).

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