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Open Weekend in The Lake District

Members, friends and breed enthusiasts met on Saturday 23rd September at the National Trust’s St Catherine's Footprint building, Windermere for the annual gathering and farm walk. We were welcomed by John Pring, manager for the National Trust who explained that the sustainable Footprint building was built of mainly straw bales and wood. The log burner certainly gave it a cosy feel.

From there we made our way to High Lickbarrow to see the main Scoutbeck herd of Albion cows and calves. John explained that this was the herd’s natural environment and that the property and herd had been left to the National Trust by the previous owner, Mr Bottomley. His sister, Elizabeth started the Scoutbeck herd & ran a milk round using her horse and cart; the cart was still stored in the farm barn.We saw two groups of cows and calves, one with calves by Bemborough Barry, the other by Speckles Iceman. The cows were in wonderful condition and the calves were exceptional. They were so even in size which is due to the tight calving pattern used on the herd.

We then walked up the hill to see a couple of in-calf heifers and a couple of cows and calves kept on higher ground. It was all set in some stunning scenery. We then returned to the Footprint building for a delicious lunch kindly provided for us by the Trust. Many thanks to John for arranging this. After lunch an open meeting for the society was held with many topics being discussed. After this we then made our way to Moor How to view the Scoutbeck steers and heifers. These were all last year’s calves which were being used to sensitively graze this area. Again the cattle looked in excellent condition and all of an even size and well grown for their age and yet again, some stunning scenery.

On Sunday morning we all met again at The Common Farm. Just before the rain arrived a few of us walked up the field to see some in-calf cows as well as cows with calves and the bull, Speckles Iceman in a field across the road.

The highlight of the morning was a stock judging competition of four in-calf heifers and four steers of the same age as the heifers. The steers were judged with beef carcasses in mind, and they were like ‘peas in a pod’ and very hard to judge. The in-calf heifers produced widely differing results with many competitors favouring different qualitiesof this dual-purpose breed, such as dairyness, carcass shape or longevity. William Longmire, Cumbria YFC Chairman was our master judge and did an excellent job of explaining his reasons for placing them in the order he did. Not a single competitor agreed with the judge or agreed with each other! There was also a guess the weight of the 4 steers competition, an added bit of interest! Again the cattle looked really well and many thanks to Amy and Simon Wood for getting the cattle into the sheds ready for us just before the Lake District weather arrived.

For those that enjoyed all weathers, there was a final walk out to the fields behind the barns, to see Bemborough Barry and the rest of older steers; it seems like they were just as even as the 4 steers that we judged and all looked great. John explained how Common Farm was about to undergo an ambitious tree planting project as part of a Stewardship Agreement. He had also gained a grant for some fantastic mobile handling and weighing equipment, which was inspirational. Many thanks must also go Amy and her family for providing the refreshments for the day. Also thanks to the committee for organising the weekend and especially to John Pring and the National Trust for hosting it.


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Blue Albion Cattle; The History       (With kind permission of Mr A. Cheese.)

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