|Vanessa and Peter
Vasey with youngstock rescued from the flood.
2005 was an extraordinary year for Peter and Vanessa
Vasey who farm near Carlisle.
With the New Year came the well-documented floods which drastically
affected the lower Eden Valley and Carlisle more than a year
ago on January 8.
The devastating flood brought a torrent of water and debris
from the nearby River Eden five feet deep through their farm
steading and buildings at the 170-acre Holme House, Wetheral,
and into their farmhouse in the early hours of the morning - the
first time in the 36 years the Vaseys have farmed there.
Peter, his son Giles and friends electrician Andrew Teasdale
and restaurateur Kenny Hogg as well as firemen from Longtown,
spent hours chest-deep in the freezing water to rescue the
family's prized Edenhurst Charolais herd from the buildings,
including small calves and in-calf cows, taking them to higher
Ironically, while Peter and Vanessa were only able to fully
move back into their refurbished farmhouse seven weeks before
Christmas, having spent the year staying with relatives and
friends, 2005 had many highlights and it has been one of the
most successful for the Edenhurst herd both in the show and
However, the brightest moment of the year which helped maintain
the Vaseys' spirits during the trauma was the birth
of their first grand child, Joshua, to daughter Jill and husband
Chris in May.
“It's remarkable that this has been our best
year yet for the herd. It's extraordinary that the animals
have been able to acclimatise and in the end realise their
potential considering what they have been through,” said
Peter Vasey, whose pedigree Charolais bloodlines go back to
when the herd was established 30 years ago, even surviving
the foot and mouth epidemic which ravaged the area in 2001.
All of the herd's 55 females and followers - now
totalling 120 head - were rescued from the flood and
remarkably only two calves whose heavily-pregnant dams were
stranded outside, were stillborn.
Of the young bulls rescued, Edenhurst Vancouver went on to
shine on the summer show circuit from his first show of the
season, the Northumberland County at the end of May.
Helped by stockman Andrew Stott, himself a keen cattle showman
and a Blonde breeder who joined the Vaseys in April, the bull
collected breed championships at the Northumberland, Penrith
and Dumfries shows and as well as the Charolais top honours
went on to take interbreed awards at Cockermouth and Skelton
and a reserve interbreed at the Westmorland County.
The bull, CH 34, which was only eight months old when it
was rescued, then sold at the October Perth Charolais sale
for 11,000gns after securing the overall reserve supreme and
The herd also went on to claim the coveted champion group
of three award with Vancouver, teamed-up with two more Hofmeister
sons, Edenhurst Victorious CH30 who sold for 5,800gns and
Edenhurst Vermont CH41 who commanded a 4,000gns bid.
The Edenhurst herd's success at pre-sale shows and
sale began with taking the top price among the bulls at the
Carlisle June sale.
And at the Carlisle Christmas Cracker sale in November Edenhurst
Unity CH26, an April 2003 born heifer by Oldstone Egbert,
was sold for the top price of 5,500gns.
Peter Vasey's involvement with shows during the year
went far beyond his herd's successes.
He had the honour of judging the big three breed shows - starting
with the Royal Show, Stoneleigh, in early July, then three
weeks later the Scottish National Charolais Show held at Kirriemuir
Show and the Irish National Show at Fintona in Northern Ireland.
During the flood, a two day old calf was almost swept away
and it was put into the back of the Landrover for safe keeping
until the waters subsided more than 24 hours later. The heifer
Edenhurst Rosanna is now one of the herd's promising
show prospects for next season.
“All the cattle were lucky to survive because as it
is with fire, it is difficult to get animals out of the building,” said
“We were in a complete dilemma knowing what to do with
the younger calves. We were turning them out into what was
virtually a river coming past the buildings and we had to
keep the calves' noses out of the water.
“We were told that the Environment Agency's equipment
had stopped working when the river speed reached 1,600 tonnes
per second. It was remarkable how the calves adapted to being
outside in the cold weather which followed as we had to leave
them unhoused for several weeks.”
Such was Peter Vasey's determination to rescue his
pedigree animals but little did he realise that his farm insurance
cover for them did not extend to flooding.
Nor did it cover the loss of crop through flooding which
included 750 big bales of silage and straw being washed away.
The devastation left by the water included also uninsured
damaged fencing and the eroded river bank which had to be
repaired and a massive cleaning up operation which is yet
to be completed. The Vaseys' three vehicles at the farm
were also written off.
The farmhouse where Mrs Vasey had to take refuge upstairs
for 24 hours was also under four and a half feet of water
and much of the furniture and other possessions were ruined,
including farm business and personal paperwork going back
over the years.
Again ironically, a kitchen renovation which had been planned
for some time, including a new AGA, as well as a new central
heating system in the house, had just been completed in time
for Christmas last year - a couple of weeks before the
“The mess left by the floodwater both outside and inside
was indescribable,” said Mrs Vasey, who had been extremely
concerned at the mens' safety during the animals'
“We lost everything which had been on the ground floor,
including our marriage certificate which we later found but
all the copperplate writing had been washed away. Peter lost
all his shoes and he spent 12 weeks in Wellingtons.”
While the flood was a traumatic experience for the Vaseys
as it was for many people in Carlisle, they are grateful that
so much survived the event. However, putting their own troubles
into perspective was the scale of the Boxing Day tsumani in
the Far East.
“The floods brought chaos but we had tremendous support
from family, friends and other Charolais breeders who helped
us with somewhere to stay, fodder for the animals and in many
other areas,” said Mr Vasey.
© Copyright 2005 Jennifer
MacKenzie All Rights