Sunday, 31 May 2009

It's that time of year again...




Years ago, the whole of the farming year in this part of the country depended upon the right weather conditions to get in the hay. Then, with the "invention" of silage it didn't matter quite as much. To get good hay the weather has to be hot and dry for some days until the grass completely dries out. With silage this is not quite so important. With hay it was one crop each Summer. Now, with intensive farming and good fertilising, it is not uncommon to get three crops of silage from each field.
So, after a few days of good weather, every farmer in the dale is cutting. The farmer was up early (I really think it is his favourite job) and already two fields are down - one more to go for this first crop. Tess and I made the journey up to the big mill lane field, which he cut first, so that I could take a photograph.
There is always danger to wildlife - curlew, partridge, pheasant, oyster catcher, snipe - all could be nesting in the field. The farmer keeps his eyes peeled but there are always casualties. When he came in at lunch time he said he had seen a mother pheasant coaxing her large brood out of a clump of grass he was about to cut. So he left it over the lunch hour and has now gone back. He will walk through the grass to make sure they have gone before he cuts it - so that is one little brood that has been saved.
The field margins are always left as you will see in the photograph of the cut grass. This margin often has partridge nests as they like to nest near to a hedge. Tomorrow afternoon the forage harvester will be in gathering up the limp grass and blowing it into the trailer for transporting to the silage clamp. Then the dairy herd from next door will be in the next day to "pike" - that is our local dialect word for eating up the grass that is left.
There is a smell of cut grass in the air, the sun is shining and you can hear various silaging activity going on all around on the neighbouring farms.
Tomorrow I shall try to catch the forager and photograph it - but the fields are quite a long way from the house and picking up the grass in that way is not a long job.

28 comments:

Leenie said...

Most farmers are pretty tender hearted when it comes to the creatures that share the land, I am glad the pheasants were given an opportunity to hurry away. Of course scaring up a skunk or bailing a rattle snake is not a good experience for anyone concerned. Thanks for the info on your way of gathering in the crops.

jinksy said...

The 'sound' of your tractor cutting the grass (photographically speaking) far outweighs the sound of the horrible, electric mower some body was using in our neighbouthood this morning...Loved this little bit of country info.

Kayla coo said...

What wonderful weather and perfect for walking through fields of buttercups.
i find all your posts very interesting, thank you.xx
P.S
My husband always meets his friends for a beer after playing squash or after coaching the youngsters at our rugby club he meets up with all the other Dads.
x

Abe Lincoln said...

What he does to save the wildlife is a precious thing and not forgotten. It will earn him extra time here. Love these kinds of stories and pictures.

You probably don't remember when people lived and died at home and endured wakes. I wrote about it here. http://bing-it.blogspot.com/

Reader Wil said...

Very good of your husband to take care of the wild life in the grass. What a wonderful season summer is! Thanks for your visit. Such a pity that Whit is not celebrated anymore. It belongs to Christmas, Easter and Ascension Day.

Professor Yaffle said...

I love the smell of new mown hay & silage
I used to take time off from work and help a farmer friend of mine with the harvest
Good weather, food and company
The downside was that they made me drink cider lol!

acornmoon said...

It seems to early for hay making, the months are speeding up as I grow older!

maggi said...

I can smell that grass from here.

Heather said...

The weekend weather has certainly helped us all. On a much smaller scale I think each of our neighbours in all directions cut their lawns this weekend! The sound of various lawnmowers was nearly constant.

willow said...

It's so kind of the farmer to coax the mothers out of the field. WT, my old farm boy has filled this city girl in on terms like silage and hay.

BT said...

How lovely to hear of the farmer being so careful about the birds. Lovely. I love the sound of the tractors working away around us.

gleaner said...

Fascinating to learn about this and see the photos.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

We don't have a garden but I planted up a couple of planters yesterday, taking advantage of the sunshine, so that was my contact with the earth!

Coastcard said...

Oystercatchers intrigue me, how they thrive on the different habitats. We particularly enjoy seeing them in the vicinity of Cardigan Island and Fishguard harbour. Do you know what it is that lures them inland, I wonder?

Thank you, Weaver, for explaining so many farming practices. Takes me back to my days of pea gleaning (always a grand village occasion) as a teenager in rural Norfolk.

How I miss the sound of pheasants on a frosty morning - but then, we have seagulls instead, and just sometimes the peaceful flap of heron wings.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Leenie - I saw a skunk for the first time this year, walking across the road on Long Island of all places.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Jinksy - I don't mind the sound of lawn mowers as long as I am not expected to be pushing them.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Kayla coo - nice to hear of Dads meeting, wouldn't like to think we women had the prerogative.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Abe - thanks for the link. Most interesting.
I do remember wakes - in fact things are not very different here in the countryside now. Funerals are considered very important and the church is often very full.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks reader wil. We can still celebrate these days though, can't we?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Prof Yaffle - give me a cup of cold tea anytime.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Valerie - it is a bit too early for haymaking, but they have to collect the silage early so that they can try and get three crops.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Maggi - I love the smell of cut grass - it is one of the smells of summer to me.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Heather - have you noticed that once the mower has been over the grass it seems to grow twice as fast.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Willow - just to complicate matters there is also haylage - this is made when the farmer is intending to make hay and then the weather breaks and he ends up baling it like silage!

The Weaver of Grass said...

BT I expect your farming work is well ahead of ours - you seems to get the warmer weather a few weeks before we do.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks gleaner.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Planters Derrick? That is my sort of gardening these days.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Coastcard - I have spent many happy hours looking out over Cardigan Island from the cliff top, walking down to Mwnt and Gwbert - for many years we rented a farm holiday cottage in Verwig - we are still in touch with the people on the farm to this day.