Tuesday, 27 September 2011
New arrivals and old friends.
The sheep have begun to arrive. They are hefted sheep - this means that they live on the tops of the Buttertubs Pass between Wensleydale and Swaledale and the mothers teach their young to stay in the designated area. They pass this information on from one generation to the next (although one or two always go missing to pastures new). I have taken a photograph to show you but not a single sheep looked up!
A Swaledale is recognisable by its white nose. All noses were deeply buried in the lush green grass; hardly surprising when you consider they have spent months on the slopes where the grass is quite sparse. They will not have seen the like of this before and will gorge themselves for a day or two (usually resulting in a bout of diarrhoea) before settling down for the winter.
On our walk this afternoon I managed to take a photograph which encapsulates all that is going on in farming around here today. This is our neighbour's farm. In the foreground there is grass cut ready for baling up into late-crop silage for the Winter Then, beyond the beck (the line of longer grass) the new green shoots of next year's barley crop are just coming through. Beyond that is a strip of stubble where the corn has been cut and the straw led away. This stubble will be waiting for eventual ploughing in. In the far distance our neighbour is ploughing a big field ready to sow with some crop before the Winter. And beyond that the green fields to the horizon - all of which will house sheep over the Winter.
While we are on the subject, I notice that my calendar for this month has a picture
of a field of corn which has been harvested. The straw has been baled up to be collected and used for feed/bedding over the Winter. However, the caption says 'Hay Bales near Pickering, North Yorkshire'. So here - once and for all - is the difference between Hay and Straw. Hay is grass which has been cut and dried in the sun until it is brittle and golden. Then (very sweet-smelling) it is baled up and stored for feed in the Winter. (Our hay barn is a favourite place for hedgehogs to over-winter as it gets nice and warm. The cats use it as their winter home too).
Straw is the stalks of any corn crop (oats, barley, wheat), left after the ears are harvested. This is baled up and taken to the farm where it is used either for bedding or - often - chopped up and added to animal feed.
Coming back home through the front garden, I notice that the carnation/pink given to me as a present by Rosemary (Share my Garden on my sidebar) has made a nice sturdy little plant before Winter. And the lovely 'wild' sweet pea plant, given to me by N and S (if you are reading this N and S - thank you) is still flourishing and making lots of nice seed pods which I hope to dry so that I can grow my own next year. All over the garden clumps of Schizostylus are in full bloom. I do love their cheerful red colour - it brightens up the garden no end.
##I have just been told off by the farmer because the green in the middle distance (beyond the beck) is not next year's barley coming up, it is grass which is growing well and may very well get another cut if the weather holds - as it is forecast to do. The Times says it will be warmer here than in Hawaii by the weekend. How about that?