Monday, 2 September 2013

Haymaking

The field behind Broadrake, which was planted with 600 trees last December, had generated a prolific amount of grass by summer, somewhat more than the mower was capable of handling. So we have been trying to find a sensible way of dealing with it. Last autumn William, our neighbouring farmer, let his cattle in there to graze and they certainly managed to eat a fair bit. However we can't do the same this year since cattle and young trees don't mix. Because of all the rocks and rough ground William did not want to cut it so we needed a different solution.
Mike had a go with the scythe with results a bit like a bad haircut on the small area he managed to do. It clearly wasn't going to be realistic for the whole field.
 
Then through her flower walks in the National Nature Reserve across the valley Rache met Andrew Hinde of Natural England who reckoned he might be able to cut it with his power scythe if he could have the feed for his organically reared cattle. After a reccy he decided it was worth a go and turned up on August Bank Holiday Monday. The weather was as it should be but rarely is on Bank Holidays. There is a big area in the centre of the field that is free of trees, though not rocks or shakeholes, which he cut that morning and left us to turn it later that day.
 
He came to row it up the following day and because he was worried about the weather holding decided to bale on Wednesday, a bit sooner than he would have liked. The result was about 120 small bales which we covered up to protect them overnight in case of rain. Some were wrapped in tarpaulins, then we pitched out old tent and managed to stash 30 or so in there to the amusement of William and his family who came round to see what we were up to. 

The bales were collected on Thursday to be laid out in Andrew's barn to dry out a bit more before being stored for winter feed. So the middle of our field now looks quite respectable and there is just all the grass growing amongst the trees left to deal with....