Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Silage Time

And we're off! The silage harvest has started here at home. Yesterday afternoon the Sons cut 120 acres of grass and today with three wagons they are bringing it all in. The Farmer is on the pit pushing the grass in and at present is keeping up with it as the loads are coming from a couple of miles away so give him time between each drop to keep on top of it though it may get more diffucult once the trailers are hauling from the home fields. Last evening I took a picnic supper out to the field during mowing and they had a welcome break from sitting in a tractor cab. Today will be a day of sandwiches snatched at intervals between loads. Twice this morning I have been out to ask the drivers of the milk tanker and a cattle-cake delivery lorry to park their vehicles in a certain way to allow the tractors and trailers to get by as they are coming through the could cause great difficulties if the tractors and lorries are blocking each other's way! It is a good time with all this activity and as long as the weather holds everyone will be happy, though we are having a very fine drizzle passing over at present but things are brightening up as I write.
When I take food out to the fields the dogs love to come too and need no encouragement to leap into the back of the car. They adore rushing throught the cut grass catching smells and chasing but never catching, the swallows across the rows. Above the swathes of grass tens of red kites fill the air, so many nowadays after the years of scarcity; they and the buzzards are after carrion in the form of unfortunate small mammals that have been caught by the mowing machines, it is feast-time for them.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Bee Swarm, Birdsong & Spring Glory

'A swarm in May is worth a load of hay.'
At just afer 7'o'clock this morning I was woken (yes, shamefully,I was still in bed!) by a phone call from Younger Son to say the bees were swarming in the garden. I immediately donned wellies and a coat over my nightie and went to find the Farmer who, fortunately, was not too far away. He promptly changed into his bee-keepers overalls and went to place a collecting hive near the swarm. The swarm had not travelled more than a few yards from their original hive and so were easy enough to catch. The Farmer is very pleased as he is trying to build up our bee stocks especially since he discovered that one of our hives had been taken over by mice during the winter and had killed the colony. The photo shows the Farmer standing back to view the collecting box and to make sure the bees were going into it. He will keep an eye on it throughout the day and when they are settled he will move it to a more conveneint place and build up a new hive.

The silage season has started with the Sons working bringing in silage for farms in the district through their contracting work. Our own silage harvest will take place in few days time I think. The grass is growing well & is as high as a labrador's eye especially since we had those several days of rain last week. The view over the valley is a real patchwork of colours once fields are mown varying in shades of green, yellow where the grass has been cut and rich brown where ploughing has already taken place.
The hedges are thicker in outline now that they are in full leaf and are full of flowers and busy with the little birds nesting and darting in and out of the tangle of twigs feeding their young. There is constant squabbling chatter from the sparrows and frequent placid cooing of the wood pigeons, then a raucous clatter from the jackdaws who are nesting in the eaves of one of the barns & the swallows keep up their chittering as they swoop in & out of the farm buildings. It is all wonderful. The oak trees are very beautiful at the moment with their fresh golden green young leaves and the may blossom is out all around the farm and there are hints of bright gold appearing in the laburnum hedges that surround our top fields.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Spring Field Work & Gulls

While spring is upon us in all its glory the ash trees are still stark against the sky. There is the merest hint of fresh leaves begining to blur the skeletal outlines but it will be quite a while yet until the trees are in in their full plumage. A neighbour who called in the other day was making doom-laden mutterings about ash die-back but there are the faint signs of life that hopefully makes that scenario unlikely.

Of the two ewes left to lamb one produced a set of twins yesterday so just the last one left and she surely cannot go on much longer. The ewes and lambs of the main flock are now out in the fields enjoying what have been days of wonderful golden weather though today it has become grey and cold after a lovely start when I was out with the dogs at 7 o'clock this morning.

On the farm tractors have been busy ploughing and harrowing in preparation for the seed to be sown today. The birdsong has had a bass rumble of tractors across the fields and flocks of gulls have arrived from the coast about 15 miles away, to glean from the turned earth meals of worms and grubs making a change from their usual diet of seafood. It is extraordinary how the gulls know when ploughing is taking place, they arrive within a very short time of the the first furrows being turned and spend the day following the tractors in a noisy flurry of white.

The view across the valley has transformed in the past week into a patchwork of green and pale yellow where the fields of some of our neighbours have already had their first cut of silage taken off. The cut fields stand out in stark contrast to the lush green of those fields still growing though in week or so the mown pastures will start to have a green haze over them as the new regrowth emerges.

Monday, 1 May 2017

May Day

May Day morning has dawned cold grey and damp here in west Wales. I had hoped to get a picture of may blossom but our may trees are still covered in tight little buds as you can see, however our apple trees have beautiful blossom, so I do have some May Day blossom.
May Day was a significant day in the old country calendar. It was the day when fairies & witches were said to be active so twigs of hazel & rowan were brought into the house to protect it from evil spirits. In Wales on May Eve the country people used to go out into the woods to fell a birch tree which, at dawn, was then set up as the Maypole and decorated with ribbons and flowers for the 'dawns y fedwen', the 'dance of the birch'. The day was then given over to games and merriment with the festal enjoyment kept up with metheglin, a spiced honey wine. I met a Finnish friend last night who told me that in Finland May Eve is still celebrated with a big party.

May is the month when we usually shear the sheep but not until the weather warms up. We still have two ewes left to lamb, they must have been the very last to have been tupped, and they must surely 'pop' before many more days have gone!

Silage has already started to be cut in the area and the Sons will be out later this week cutting for one of our neighbours. Despite the cold we are pleased to see the rain it has been so very dry for weeks now and we need the grass to start growing. Once the temperatures rise it will romp away and we should have a good first cut silage crop.
Our dairy heifers were put out to grass this morning and their joyous bellowing could be heard ringing around the valley and in the field one can hear the satisfying crunch of the eager consumption of fresh grass after a long winter of of a diet of silage and hay.