Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Country matters.



Chariots of gold said Timothy!
Silvery wings said Elaine!
A bumpety ride on a wagon of hay
for me said Jane!

Yes, it's that time of year again. It seems from comments on my blog that many people don't know the difference between silaging and haymaking. First crop silage has been done mainly now here in the UK. It entails cutting the grass and either foraging it ( blowing it into trailers and tipping it into a clamp) or baling it up and wrapping in plastic for winter.

But haymaking - now that is a different thing altogether. To start with, the weather has to be just right. Yesterday was what we call up here "muggy" - in other words hot, damp and sultry. Too "soft" for hay making as the farmer would say. But this morning it is cooler, sunny intervals and cloudy periods, a slight breeze and above all very dry, with no rain forecast. So the hay fields have been cut. There is always a risk involved and if the weather changes then the hay will be made into silage but if the weather remains crisp and dry then so will the hay and then it will be bailed up and put in the hay barn and the smell will be divine.

Another question which keeps coming up is why our lambs still have their tails. This is because they are upland sheep and have to endure adverse conditions in the cold weather, where a nice long fluffy tail can make all the difference between a cold bottom and a warm one.

The farmer has cut the verges of the lane as he has driven to the hay fields. Some people get quite cross about this and say he should leave them long for the wildlife, but he doesn't cut right to the hedge and at least it means we can get out of our gate onto the lane and see both ways, so we are not taking our life in our hands if there is anything coming.

There really is never a dull moment here at this time of the year. My sweet peas needed tying up and watering (the flower heads were dropping off, a sure sign that they were short of water) and the chard needed a water too as it is only about an inch high and growing fast. Our peas and broad beans are well in flower and we shall have our first beetroot later this week. We had strawberries for lunch today - not the even-sized 'perfect' fruits of the supermnarket basket (what do these farns who supply the supermarkets do with their less than perfect fruit?) - but after yesterdays sun, golly were they sweet.

15 comments:

missing moments said...

So why is it here in the states we chop off the lambs tail? I never understood.

Dartford Warbler said...

Good luck with your hay harvesting over the next few days. I hope there will be some better hay in the south this year. We are using haylage from Devon at present as there is no last year`s hay to be had.

I have just been tying up our garden peas and climbing beans. It`s hot and muggy here, so I`m inside to cool down for a while.

Reader Wil said...

A farm is like a factory that depends on the weather and deals with living things. Therefore it is probably always different, isn't it?
I always read your posts with great interest. My granddaughter is having her birthday next month. I sent her three series of James Herriot DVD's, for she is fond of all kind of animals.
I wish you and your husband good luck with your summer work!

Heather said...

Hope the farmer and your neighbours get good haymaking weather. I love the smell of freshly cut grass and hay as it dries. My sweet peas have been buffeted by the wind even though I've tied them but I think they'll be alright. Carrots, beans and strawberries doing well but beetroot no good. I must sow some more salad vegs.

Heather said...

I forgot to add how good your veg. garden looks. I am envious of the space for a proper veg. plot - mine are all grown in pots and tubs.

Share my Garden said...

Today's posting makes me long to be in the Yorkshire Dales. I shall be there soon, and I dare say there will still be a bit of hay left for me to fork over!

Dominic Rivron said...

You got me wondering where that quote came from ("Chariots of gold, etc"). I remember it from my childhood.

Discovered it's from a poem by Walter de la Mare:


Bunches of Grapes

"Bunches of grapes," says Timothy;
"Pomegranates pink," says Elaine;
"A junket of cream and a cranberry tart
For me," says Jane.

"Love-in-a-mist," says Timothy;
"Primroses pale," says Elaine;
"A nosegay of pinks and mignonette
For me," says Jane.

"Chariots of gold," says Timothy;
"Silvery wings," says Elaine;
"A bumpity ride in a waggon of hay
For me," says Jane.

angryparsnip said...

I love your vegetable garden.
It is extremely hard to have one in where I live.
I bought some strawberries at the market they looked pretty but where just OK, I am sure yours tasted much better than mine.
At a farmers market where I used to live, the farmers would bring in the "not so pretty, smaller" cherries that were the rejects. We loved them they tasted like heaven !

cheers, parsnip

Pondside said...

I hope you get good weather for your haying. The farmers here are going full tilt between rain drops. The good thing is that the winds dry everything out very quickly here, but still, a run of sunny days would be nice.

Bovey Belle said...

Neighbours on the A40 have cut for hay too, but when we came back through Derbyshire last week they were still silaging. Good hay-making weather here.

We are considered upland farming this side of the river, and sheep country (though much of it is actually mixed farming with sheep and cattle). Some of the "old boys" leave the tails on the lambs, as well as their dangly bits!, so that they achieve maximum weight when they go to market . . . Don't sheep run the risk of fly strike, having their tails left though?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Lambs tails are chopped off to prevent fly strike, which can lead to death if it is not spotted in time. We have to keep a special eye on our sheep - they keep their tails to keep them warmer in winter.

So far the hay is drying well and it smells absolutely lovely - such a change from weeks of sllurry!

Thank you for the comments.

Dave King said...

I hadn't realised that some fields were earmarked for silage and others for hay - if I've understood you aright. Another fascinating post. Thanks.

Elisabeth said...

I follow the passing of the seasons through your post, when I can, Pat, and revel in it.

Granny Sue said...

Your garden looks lovely! Our spring garden has had a bumpy ride, so I am hoping for better weather for the summer crops.

thousandflower said...

When I was in Yorkshire years ago I, too, asked about the tails on the sheep as we always dock ours. Here, if we don't the tails get caked with manure and the sheep get skin infections. I imagine that feed and climate make the difference.