Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Making hay while the sun shines

Well, haylage actually ... So, after a freezing cold week that saw me back in thermals, the weather turned completely around and we had a stifling couple of days over the weekend.  David spends most of his time glued to the weather reports this time of year and so he decided that he should have a big enough window on Monday/Tuesday to get one of our fields mowed and baled into haylage.

Haylage is a slightly fermented grass - baled slightly damp (with no additives) it smells beautifully sweet like a really nice cider. The goaties absolutely adore it and all the nutrients in the grass make for wonderful milk!  

So, off he went mowing on Sunday .. All that lovely goatie manure has certainly made the grass grow and he was amazed at how thick the crop was.  On his return, there were mutterings about me having to help out by driving a tractor as well so that we could get everything baled and wrapped before the weather changed.  But I had a much better idea ... young Joe is a very versatile chap and has driven tractors before ... I was sure that he would be able to pick it up again pretty quickly.

And so, after doing a bit of bottling for our milk orders on Tuesday morning, Joe was packed into the old tractor:


Closely followed down the road by David with the baler:


A quick crash course on how to row up the grass ready for baling and Joe was all set to go.

And here he is in action:

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Joe had to drive up and down the field using the rake on the back of the tractor to throw all the grass into a line ready for David to come and bale ...

Once the lines are ready, the baler comes in:

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When the bale reaches a certain size, the baler automatically puts a couple of layers of netting around it to hold it all in place and then spits it out of the back:

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It's really important to make sure that the bale drops so that it does not roll away downhill!  It's quite an art but even the most experienced farmers can have a mishap occasionally.

The final task is to load the bale onto the wrapper and get all those layers of plastic wrapped round to keep the bale nice and dry and airtight so that it can ferment.

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Once the bales are all wrapped, they are weather-proof and can sit in a field for a few days in bad weather until they are all stacked on a trailer and carted back to the farm.

David managed to bale and wrap all 195 bales about 30 minutes before the thunderstorms arrived!

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