Sunday 29 April 2012

Hoping To Make Hay While The Sun Shines. (Don't laugh!)

Howdy Folks.   That's my haystack of loose hay from last year.  I got somebody to mow it and turn it, and we turned it with hand pikes and made enormous windrows, and we brought (piked again) it down from the field and placed it in a giant heap.  Praying that that there would not be any spontaneous combustion (spot the Ted Nugent track?) then it was all piked into the barn.

Before that.  The land got a good splattering of cow muck (piked again with tractor and box) and one bag of  Gran Lime.  The hay making operation took 5 days in total and I had several nights worrying if it would rain and ruin my hay.  You don't have the same worries with baled silage.

I reckon (not including my fuel of stout and ham sandwiches) that it cost me 120 Euro s (about £100) to get an acre or even a full barn of hay.  I started feeding it the new cattle in August and we still had some left until just after Christmas.  The great thing about loose hay is there is very little dust and the cattle thrive on it.  You can even get somebody to bale the hay if you want.  We can't put the baling string manufacturer's out of business can we?  Even that's made of plastic or even polypropylene these days.

Also when you grow hay it reseeds the field.  Lets pray that we can make another large crop this year.  If not I will be buying silage.   The construction to the right of the haystack is the duck pen.  It's covered in chicken mesh to keep the fox away.  Well that's the idea any way.

Here's a bit of nostalgia for you.  It was made in 1924.  If you ever get to see the OPEN ROAD don't miss it.  I love the labourer drinking his cider and the Oxen pulling the hay-carts.

If you click on to their titles you will find lots more incredible film footage of England's green and pleasant land.  Why can't we go back to those times?


  1. Yes mate, there's no law that says you have to use diesel-powered equipment and machinery, I'm convinced that some of the old ways can't be improved on.

    And polypropelene baling twine, dunno about that, the old hairy stuff had so many uses (farmers weld) eveybody seemed to have a length in their pocket.

    We never see the old bales now, not much hay either, silage seems to have killed off the hay-making, and I don't think you can make silage by hand?

    Couple of nice little clips, I read somewhere that a man on heavy work should be allowed 8 quarts of cider a day (William Cobbet?) so if this was standard practice, God only knows how they managed to finish the day. And I've never seen working oxen.

    Still pissing down, cold East wind.

  2. Totally agree with you Cumbrian. The old ways were the best. People would work for 8 quarts of cider or a side of ham or even just to be a good neighbour. Nobody seems to be willing or make the time to help these days. William Cobbet was John Seymour's heroes. Think most manual labourers drank at least 8 pints after their shiftjust to clear their throats. They used to use sisal? Baling string/twine even. It was a natural material and like you say was the: 'farmers weld' or 'agricultural duct tape'.

    You just don't get the sunshine these days for hay and the farmers get two or three crops of silage and they even keep some of the bales for more than one year. I hate silage and it's said to be the biggest cause of the demise of the bee. Bees and other insects need the wild flowers and grass to go to see for pollination. There is also an argument that says the mower should always start mowing down the middle of the field so the wildlife (hares, corncrake's..) can escape to safety.

    Still dry here but very overcast and the same East wind. The experts reckon we're going to have the coldest May on record.


  3. You're right, nobody seems to want to help each other any more, unless they're getting paid for it. Sad really, it's the same in lots of communities as well, lots of people don't even know their next door neigbours, so tied up in their own little world, no time to socialise, they always seem so busy, I often wonder what they do.

    We've got some fields in our area, think I mentioned this before, can't be mown until after it's seeded, SSSIs because of rare grasses or plants. Bit of a nusciance to some farmers, but I suppose they get paid something. I can see the sense in starting at the middle, especially with the huge implements they use, but I haven't noticed them doing it. Suppose the big plastic-wrapped bales have the advantage of not needing a barn, we see thousands of them stacked in the fields, but they need more equipment to handle them. And the cider is probably banned, can't have them under the influence in charge of several tons and thousands of horsepower of dangerous machinery.

    Coldest May on record? Haven't heard that, but I can beleive it, been bloody cold here, too many East and North winds, seems unusual.
    We're off down the road tomorrow for a fortnight, searching for the sun, so don't think I've forgotten you when I don't post.

    Raggy cat still asleep in front of fire, it's still on, that tells you how cold it is. But it's going out later.

  4. I hear the sad tale that of people not knowing their neighbours so often. Surely the end of society (that's another good one)will be when people stop communicating with each other? Perhaps it's people having credit cards, kids never off the Play stations and people driving around in their own metal boxes on wheels? Like you say:

    "It's sad really."

    Yes I have also never noticed contractors starting in the middle of the field before they mow it. I like the idea of the SSSIs.

    An old man once told me that we don't get the Summers anymore because of the pollution from the two world wars. He said that when he was young they had sunshine from June until September. I think pollution must have something to do with it. Unless everything goes in a cycle?

    Have a good break Cumbrian and I look forward to you tuning back in a fortnight.

    Thanks for all your insight and amusing comments.


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