The highlight of any farming year has got to be harvest, it is what we are working towards for the twelve months beforehand.
The farming year technically starts in autumn when some of next years crops are planted(or drilled)

This year was a tricky season for good crop establishment because of the wet weather. We have got everything planted in the ground in reasonable time. However slug wars are now underway, with some crops having to have slug pellets spread on them to ensure that the little monsters do not nibble all of the growing shoots. Oilseed rape and crops after oilseed rape are particularly popular feedstuffs.
Looking forward to next year prices for next harvest are already out there so we are debating on agreeing a price on a few tonnes of grain already as prices are better than this year.
Come spring there will be some more crops to plant, peas for Birds Eye and some spring barley. This year we managed to get everything planted in autumn but if we did not there would be extra crops to drill such as beans.
After fertiliser and chemical applications to control pests harvest time rolls round.


The first crop to be harvested are the peas destined to reach the freezing factory in Hull within 90 minutes of leaving the field. Peas are a crop that require no nitrogen fertiliser(they make their own) and usually no insecticides. Because they are drilled late and harvested early they fit well into our busy schedule.
The next crop to ripen is winter barley. To be good enough for malting barley used for beer production it has to have a low nitrogen content. All grain that leaves the farm has to have a moisture content of 14.5% or below so that it will not go mouldy. This year we were able to harvest all the barley below this so we did not need to dry it.
The wheat was a different matter. In August the days are longer and warmer so we would hope to harvest at about 15 or 16 percent and not have to dry much.
Repeated cycles of wet and dry on mature grains can cause them to start to germinate in the ear while still on the plant. Even if this does not happen the quality of the grain will deteriorate. Later on we will harvest the grain at a higher moisture content because it becomes imperative to get it safely in the shed. This leads to increased costs.


Finally after the grain is sold and leaves the farm we get paid after 30 days. As we still have a lot of our grain in our sheds today in the middle of October, we still have no income for some crops planted well over a year ago.

Leave a Comment

Slum to Studio

At Cold Harbour Farm we are blessed with a unique set of farm buildings which are still in use today. Our family has been farming here since 1889 so we have some knowledge of the uses of the buildings during that time.

The building on the South West corner was originally used as a saddle store and `slum`. The farm workmen would all board with the Foremans wife in the house next to the farmhouse. They all slept in the lads bedroom which has a separate staircase leading directly from the large kitchen/living room. When we restored the house the wooden staircase was well worn by the passage of workmen in their boots and we had to renew the steps.

Although the men lived in the house there was nowhere for them to sit in the evening after they had finished their meal. If they were not working they would spend their nights in the slum sitting in decrepit arm chairs or on a settle there. There was a fireplace, but with 2 outside walls, a door and a window I doubt it ever got very snug in there.

By the door there are several carved initials. 

AA was Alf Adamson who worked with us as fifth lad. This was a junior role so he would come last in the hierarchy and sit at the bottom of the dining table, at the opposite end to the foreman. He would also have the worst horses to work with. He played in the village cricket team while he was with us and would always have a bath in the horse water trough before playing a match.



Tommy Waslin also carved his initials. These are dated 1946. The junior men would probably only stay a year before moving to another farm for a more senior position.

ImageThis building has not been renovated on the inside and the remains of the chimney can still be seen.

It is now used as a stone carving studio by Peter Brown, the first artist to move into the farm buildings.



Leave a Comment

Cold Harbour Farm A Timeline

Cold Harbour Farm                  A Timeline

1086                Bishop Burton mentioned in the Domesday book

1680                The first Dunning is mentioned in the parish records

1769                Enclosures started in the Parish

1815                The corn laws were passed. Grain imports were heavily taxed so the price of grain rises.

1825                Thomas Almack was the tenant at Cold Harbour farm

1846                Repeal of the corn laws. The price of grain falls

1849                John Ward Chatterton was tenant, he committed suicide in 1856.

1858                Mrs Chatterton carried on the tenancy and married Francis Johnson of Skirlaugh

1861                25 people lived in Cold Harbour Farmhouse

1864                Francis Johnson suffered a fire, one of several due to social unrest caused by low wages, high prices, and the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834

1884                New farm buildings built

1887                Daniel Dunning becomes tenant of Cold Harbour

1921                Edgar Dunning becomes tenant at Cold Harbour

1942                John Dunning returns from WWII to take over from his father

1951                Mains water laid on to the farm

1952                Started milking 20 Ayrshire heifers

1954                Pig unit started with 20 sows

1959                Purchased first tractor driven combine harvester

1965                Bought Cold Harbour Farm from the Bishop Burton estate for £75 per acre

1968                Programme of tree planting started  

1983                Paul and Heather join the farm partnership

1984                The roadside plantation was blown down by a January gale. A shed roof ended up in a field

2001                Foot and Mouth disease outbreak. No animal movements were allowed.

2007                First artist arrives at Calf House Studios

2008                Dairy herd sold.Image,

Leave a Comment

Good News

I got the chance to go in to Radio Humberside today to talk to Burnsey on his morning show. To prepare for this I asked our artists for their news and such a lot of exciting stuff came in that I felt the need to put it all together in one place. Obviously there was no time to mention it all on the radio.
For a general point to start us off we now must be contributing substantially to the local economy. We now attract customers from all over the country to the farm studios and they stay in the area using local facilities for food drink, overnight stays, partners coming with them needing entertainment etc.
Starting with Tracey our silver metal clay artist who is hosting a masterclass in her studio for the next 5 days with an american tutor, Lisa Barth. It can again be classed as an ecostudio as the sun will be powering her kilns today. The subject for today and tomorrow is leather cuffs and then there will be three days on mounting stones. These classes attract the leading workers in silver metal clay from the UK and sometimes as far as the continent.
Graham, who paints in watercolours and oils has been very busy giving lessons in painting. When he has any spare time he has been doing commissions. There are two he is working on at the moment, one is destined for Southampton and the other for Alabama so we have strong American connections.
Lynnda Worsnop is again running her innovative 24 hour One Stamp project again. This will take place during the weekend of 13/14 April when she will use one of her designs in as many unique ways as possible. This is run in conjunction with her blog and website so that by using the virtual world she turns this in to a world wide event. You can follow this at http://www.oakhousestudio.com
Peter Brown, our founder member and stonecarver has just accepted a commission from the Bradford Royal Infirmary Dementia project. he has also been accepted for the Art and Healing Exhibition in London which takes place this June.
Ali Brice, the ceramacist has work on display in two exhibitions at the moment. Close to home she is in Creation Fine Arts, together with other members of the Northern Potters until 21 April. She also has work at the Ropewalk, Barton on Humber in an East Riding Artists exhibition called Twists and Turns.
John Denton has now been elected a master photographer. This is a prestigious award and especially so because he was voted in to this position by his fellow photographers. He has been very busy running courses all over England as well as Ireland, Scotland and Eastern Europe.
Debbie March has been selling well in galleries such as Wolds Village, Bainton, Art and Rose Pocklington, Gallery 49 and Creation Fine Arts. She has also been working on some unusual comissions.
Our latest recruit, Claire West is working hard towards a solo exhibition at Artlink on Princes Avenue in Hull on 10 May. She can also be seen at the moment in the Ferens Gallery in Hull.

Leave a Comment

The buildings at Cold Harbour farm

ImageHeritage Open Day at Cold Harbour Farm

Sunday 9 September 2012.

Cold Harbour Farm, Bishop Burton will be open again as part of the National Heritage Open Days on Sunday 9 September 2012 from 11am to 4 30pm. This is a unique experience to be able to contrast the original buildings with those in use for modern agriculture today. “Heritage Open Days encourages local people to discover the history they have on their doorstep” says Loyd Grossman, Patron of Heritage Open Days. “After such a spectacular summer, I can`t think of a better way to round it off than a day out or a picnic at one of our fantastic free events.”

 The Victorian granary with its stone steps measures about 5m by 20 m. The modern on floor grain store built nearby measures 45m by 33m. The current farmers at Cold Harbour farm, Paul and Heather Hayward are following a family tradition that has seen 4 generations of the same family farming this land. They will be available on the day for tours round the buildings.

The farm has a well preserved set of brick built, architect designed farm buildings from the 1890`s. Their original uses were various; blacksmiths shop, carriage house, stables, turnip house, chaff house and cow house. These are now largely unsuitable for modern agriculture but have been maintained and some of them converted to more modern use, the main one being a nest of creative activity that is Calf House Studios. These are home to 7 artists who all work in different media.

There will also be a chance to see how the machinery has changed over the years. Pre war the farm was worked by 16 cart horses. By the 1950s these had all been replaced by tractors. Four vintage tractors, one of which is still used today will be on display. Parked next to this will be one of the tractors we use today which deploys satellite navigation to ensure crops are planted and fertilised with no gaps or overlaps.

There is no need to book for the event which is free to attend. It will be well signed from the village of Bishop Burton.


Leave a Comment

The Mere at Bishop Burton

Hitching a lift

A swan, with cygnets aboard on the mere

The Mere

 A guest post written by my father, John

Pond, Mere or Lake, my helpmate Goggle does not give a clear definition but ours is and always has been a Mere, other villages have a pond but not Bishop Burton. The spring that feeds it was obviously the reason for the location of our village for  early man  would have valued it not only for his own use but also for his livestock.

The spring was fed into a cistern from which it was pumped by what was known as The Drinking Water Pump, the overflow from which fed the Mere.  This pump which was situated on the left hand side of the approach road to the Lytch Gate was the sole supply of the needs of not only the village but surrounding farmhouses as well. Householders had then to carry it home in buckets, I can now clearly visualise Arthur Newlove carrying two buckets along Puddingate to his house  situated where the shop is now.  The isolated farms would have two water carts, one for drinking water and another to supply their livestock from the pond, the pump for which still stands today and is listed on the suggestion of Roy Wilson when he was researching our Historical Board. TheColdHarbourcart had four wheels and stood at the foreman’s house backdoor.  Geof Ellerington tells the story when hoeing turnips one hot day coming across for a drink from it and how it tasted a bit woody, we never noticed this but it would have done standing in the sun for up to a fortnight.  No doubt a glass full today would put one in hospital for a fortnight..

The farms would have had cisterns for roof water and some had ponds to supply their stock but these soon ran dry in summer, all water other than that collected from the house roof had to be pumped so horses were always walked through the Mere going to and from work to give them a drink.

Mains water came to the village in the early 1940’s and to the farms a couple of years later,  ponds were filled in due to animal health regulations in an effort to control Bovine TB.

What a change from being the essential point round which our village developed to what it is today, the habitat of ducks,geese, swans and six cygnets

Leave a Comment


Land to be drilled with peas is left ploughed over winter and provides an ideal habitat for lapwings to nest. They breed in scrapes on bare earth which are lined with a few bits of grass or leaves. This year pea drilling has been pushed back by the weather. We were scheduled for a late drilling time anyway but the weather break has given plenty of time for the lapwings to hatch their young. Once hatched they can run about nearly immediately.

On one of our fields there are at least three breeding pairs of lapwings and when anything approaches the fields the anxious parents can be seen circling and calling out. I have not yet seen one of them to pretend to have a broken wing yet to entice a possible predator away form their young. So far I have only seen one young bird but they are very difficult to spot as they have the perfect camoflage for our soil type and are nearly invisible. I have tried to photograph him but think I keep missing. He is lovely to watch as the ploughed field is very rough and he can climb up to the top of an upturned furrow then falls down the other side, bounces up and repeats the process.

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »