Tuesday, 11 August 2015

All stations go.

A loud noise just after breakfast time - a noise of machinery - which I just couldn't identify.   I wandered round the farm yard trying to find the direction from which it  came.   And then I saw it.   The farmer opposite had started to combine his field of wheat.

I couldn't believe my eyes as it seemed to me to be nowhere near ripe enough.   But as the farmer came down the lane with Tess on return from their morning walk, he enlightened me.

These days, if the field of wheat/barley is intended to be used for whole crop (more of that in a minute) then it doesn't want to be ripe, it still needs to be soft.

Up here in The Dales there are no arable farms.   In the old days most farms were small (80 acres or thereabouts) but as they have been sold off so they have been amalgamated into larger units and round us there are now two or three really large farms.   But none of them are arable farms.   The usual 'crop' up here is either a milking herd (for how much longer with the falling price of milk?), a beef herd, or a flock of sheep.

Silage is made in huge quantities (grass which, if put into a clamp rather than into round bales, is left to 'pickle'.)
  This wheat or barley which is harvested early - whole crop - is chopped up, loaded into large trailers and tipped into the silage clamps along with the grass.  These layers form the basis of winter feed for milking and beef hers.   Our cattle are inside for at least six months of the year.

Just occasionally a field is harvested in the conventional way (usually winter barley up here) and when this happens the crop is mostly sold to local feed merchants who either roll it or chop it to mix in with other things to make cattle feed/cake for winter.

What with harvesting, silaging and the like, trying to get anywhere by road is quite a job - getting past these great trailers and tractors on our narrow winding roads (plus all the holiday traffic which clogs them in August anyway) makes movement from A to B a bit of a trial.    But farming must go on while the weather holds.

Speaking of which, today has not been as good as promised and whilst it has not actually rained there is a large amount of cloud and very little breeze, so at present the farmer has three fields lying waiting to be baled into hay and it is too soft.   I asked him what would happen if he baled it while it was soft and apparently it just heats up and becomes dangerous.

So fingers crossed for another fine day tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. Hope the hay dries in time.

donna baker said...

It really is all in the hands of mother nature, with an assist from the farmers. Have to be ready to get working in a minute or so before crop is ruined. They've only made one hay crop around here this summer as it was too wet most of the first part of summer. Guess they will get another before the end of summer. I know it is essential for 'ranchers', but I don't like it as it destroys nesting and other species and the ecosystem. Quail numbers are very low in the past years because of habitat loss.

Elizabeth said...

Looks sunny - and sounds very busy indeed.
We are enjoying a lovely calming wet day here which is a break from the heat and much appreciated!

angryparsnip said...

goodness Farming is so complicated !
You have explained what what silage is but it is still hard for me to understand.
Especially when any wildflower is not a good thing to put in.
Hope your warm weather holds till the crops are dried.

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

Fingers crossed for the right conditions for hay baling. The weather is so unsettled and even a morning and an afternoon can be like two different days.

Frances said...

That was a very interesting post Pat. I was in the car this morning and had to wait for a huge harvesting type machine to come along the road ( there was a lorry in front of me and not enough room for both to pass at that point)……there were 2 little white multi coloured rough terriers in the front with the driver up against the big glass front…so cute, one of them was asleep! I used to go to an " old ladies club" and one of the best talks we ever had was from a local farmer, talking about modern farming methods. i.e. harvesting and ploughing and weed control being done via satellite etc. Very few animals in this county ( Hertfordshire). I used to really notice the difference when we went to Leics.to see parents……sheep all the way in that county!
Hope all gets gathered in and not wet, soggy or whatever! X

Barbara said...

I think is is so very interesting how very different farming is throughout the world. Here we are surrounded by large farms where the cattle are outdoors year-round. There are also huge fields of corn, soybeans and hay that are all harvested at different times, making for some very interesting encounters on the roadways.

Here's hoping for some warm, sunny weather so the farmer can get the hay baled!

Mac n' Janet said...

Glad you liked the sweet and sour, and best of all it's easy to make.

Frances said...

I am thanking you for your generosity in telling this city dweller so much about what your Yorkshire life is like in deep summer.

We've just had a lot of rain that started last night and continued through most of today..Tuesday. Hoping that the Farmer gets all needing accomplishment well before any of that particular rain pattern crosses the Atlantic.


Hildred said...

Fair weather for you, Pat, - and rain for us. That would be a good exchange, as we are at Level 4 drought conditions and have to be so careful with our water.

Cro Magnon said...

Over here slightly dampish round bales of hay are often wrapped in plastic and left to mature as semi-silage. It smells very sweet and licoricey, and the cows love it. I'm surprised The Farmer doesn't do this; it takes away all that angst of predicting several days of good weather.

thelma said...

At the moment we just love our farm traffic, tractors thunder past with great rolled bales of wheat (whatever). Expect the novelty will wear off one day.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Fine and sunny here and haymaking in progress as I write. Thanks for calling in.

Bovey Belle said...

Making good hay is always worrying - if it overheats it can become mowburnt, and if it really overheats you can have a fire. Or else, like with us one year, we bought ours straight off the field and it was too green still and it grew a beard and that was 200 bales down the Swanee (hay man replaced it, bless him).

I've never heard of cutting wheat or barley when not ripe, let alone cutting it in with the silage in layers. Great idea for winter cattle feed. Next Door wouldn't do it as there's no arable round here either - we are classified as hill country in our valley. Not enough sunshine to ripen a crop and so we don't see arable until we get nearer the Severn Bridge.