Monday, 6 July 2009

Haymaking, cats and weird weather

Well it has been a busy time for all around here with the only exceptions being the horses who have done nothing but eat for an entire week.
After listening to the Met office reports of doom and gloom and thunder, lightening, floods etc we put off cutting the hayfields for two whole weeks and it didn't rain. Fed up with putting it off we abandoned the Met office and went by Farmer's intuition, Si borrowed a tractor and we started cutting the Top Paddock on Monday. Disaster wasn't far behind - a pin broke loose and the mower swung out, overbalanced and nosedived into the ground, snapping one of the belts. This stopped everything for the day and it then decided to drop some rain on what had been cut.
Tuesday was blisteringly hot and Adam came down with his tractor and mower and cut the rest for us, the half that got rained on dried out fine.
I feel like I've been holding my breath for most of the week - watching the stormclouds building and, on one very memorable occasion standing at the top of the ramp and seeing them just scrape past us - the next town down the line got localised flooding - we got thunder and a few random drops.
Finally it was baled and wrapped on Thursday - a total of 35 bales from our 3 acres, enough to see the horses through the entire Winter and, with the 8 left over from last year we even have some to spare just in case. At last I can breathe again.
Thursday night it rained hard and long.
We are now into the long process of moving and stacking the bales - long because they have to be moved one at a time using our little Fordson and the borrowed JCB which overheats. Si is the only one with the experience to drive these things with any degree of accuracy ( I'd be taking gateposts out) so it also has to be done when he is not at work.
In the midst of all this some nice person went and dumped a box of kittens and mother cat on a second hand car lot and John, Tara and Simon spent a happy hour chasing kittens around cars in the middle of the night with torches. They have now been safely relocated to the local cat rescue.

Monday 6th
Finished moving the bales yesterday - discovered that I can do it with the Fordson and the buckrake but the weight of the bales versus the weight of the tractor plus the slope of the ground made for some very hair-raising events - pulling wheelies with a cabless tractor isn't really my idea of fun. Si decided to try an experiment and see if he could persuade the buckrake to fit on the borrowed (large) tractor - it did, I had great fun with that and the gateposts are all fine.
Today we have more rain but with the bales wrapped, stacked and covered I'm just thinking that it's good for the grass and should get the cut fields greening again.
We are considering the possibility of regrowing one of teh fields for a second cut to sell on, have to see how that goes but prices seem to indicate that it'd be a good idea for all concerned.


  1. You can feed all your horses all winter on 35 bales?!? Are we talking big bales or the little ones that a person can pick up and throw around? I only have 2 horses and they go through probably 175 bales in the winter (the small bales). Of course I don't have as much pasture as you, but still...I'm jealous!

  2. Big bales - they start out at around 6ft long then they are wrapped and end up at about 4.
    We can't lift them - hence the machinery. We can, with use of spare fence posts as levers and a couple of strong people, manoeuvre them from the stack and roll them onto the yard.
    I don't put haylage in the field unless there's snow on the ground as there is some grass all Winter. We average about a bale a week.
    I also have 8 left over from last year so I'll be using those first.

  3. So with one cutting of a 3 acre pasture, you get all the hay you need for the winter??? Do you normally only cut it once then? Or do you make more cuts and sell the rest? I know you said you were thinking about a second cut and possibly selling it. I think that's a great idea. Our bales weight about 40-50 lbs each. How much do yours weight?