Monday, 21 July 2014

Still making hay, while the sun shines! Sort of!

Little tractor in a big field. This is our neighbours field
and it is actually steeper than it looked
 The weather is still proving unpredictable, an absolute nightmare for farmers. Once the hay harvest is in, it will be time to relax, as that means winter feed and bedding is sorted. I didn't realise before embarking on this lark, how stressful bringing in the hay could be. It is not so bad if everyone else has managed to get some hay in and we are the only ones not to, then there would be the possibility to buy some, but when it was looking fairly uncertain prior to this week that anyone will get some hay then you know the price is going to be high. Silage was possible, but alpacas don't eat silage and we haven't got the facilities for wrapping the bales for it anyway. I have been reading up though, that it is possible to just put silage material in ordinary plastic bin bags, the sort for garden waste and then squeeze as much air out of it as possible. That would give us feed for the sheep and chickens, but I don't like the idea of lots of plastic bags to deal with. We are going to experiment this year with a spare plastic bin as a possible recyclable container. The idea is we jam in the chopped up grass from the mulcher and then weight it down. If that works then a we can buy bins to keep the silage in and store them in the forest or at least at the forest edge, until winter when they can then be transferred to the greenhouse. If it reduces the winter feed costs for the chickens then we will be onto a winner, as silage we can make anytime. We don't really want to invest in the costs for a wrapping attachment, not just because we don't want plastic wrapping material to deal with, but because our main focus is the alpacas and we just don't need to wrap the bales for them, just under some sort of cover.
The poppies are pretty and I haven't even planted these seeds
Weeds can be so pretty. Not sure if my
neighbouring gardener is as
appreciative though
Anyway this week round two of the haymaking harvest was completed. It was hard work, but we are
so grateful for good neighbours. Our neighbours daughter helped us again and we loaded up one load at a reasonably leisurely pace, unloaded it and stacked it into our neighbours barn then had a cup of tea to rest. When we went down to start loading the next thirty bales we noticed unexpected dark clouds bubbling up and so started a race against time, no rests till we finished now. The third load of the day was loaded onto the trailer when our neighbour and her son arrived back home and our neighbour realised we might need help to get the bales in before the rain and so put on her gloves, cajouled her son and marched into the barn to help us off-load the bales. They then came down with us to get the last load. We got it all in and stacked with just a few spots of rain, but a couple of hours later and the heavens opened. All I could think is that at least all those bales were well and truly under cover. Our neighbour had been up since around 2am that morning baking for the Saturday market, where she sells her produce every week, but being a farmer she knew what needed doing and dug deep to help.
The bees are busy in one of the neighbours garden. A riot
of colour of marigolds and these borage plants
The storm!
This weekend saw two of the gulley making storms. It was incredible seeing the volume of water pouring down out of the sky. At times there wasn't a clear view across the field it was that heavy and we ended up with a cascade running down the road again. There needs to be some re-modelling done to prevent the water from washing the roadway down to the barn away again. There are hardly any woodchips left to wash away. Ian spent part of today fixing the damage to the road way and sorting out the alpaca houses. The rain poured down the bank straight into the boys alpaca house and so Ian cleared the bedding out and put in some more drains. The girls bedding is wet too and so Ian has piled more dry stuff on the top, clearing out that alpaca house would have taken him too long to sort out, so a thicker layer on the top will help. He then started round three of the hay cutting saga.
It was running underneath the caravan
We had white water rapids down the road
In between helping Ian with the baling, I have been doing some weeding, some work on the paper I have to write and being a guest author on a blog for farmers. The blog is called Farming futures and aims to bring the latest developments to farmers with the aim of helping farmers meet the future challenges, such as climate change. I sent in a comment to one blog and was asked if I would consider writing a blog post about my comments. As I was writing, another idea came to mind and so both got published. I was even asked to contribute again, if I had any further ideas. If you want to read them they are here and here.
And this is why, the water was too much
for the little drain
Ian out digging channels after checking on the
I had a walk around our village today, I had got errands to do to, but it was nice just to be out and about and I took a few little detours and even ate an ice-cream on the way around. It was hot! It was nice just to tootle too, buying plastic freezer bags ready for the new batch of produce, posting a letter and then a long walk to take a letter to my local heating and water company to complain about the charges they have put on the bill that are totally random and with no explanation as to what they are for. I think they just put them in there and hope people won't notice, as they are kind of just slotted in and varying in amounts. There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to them.
The water filled the ditch and
over flowed into the greenhouse
Flooding in the middle of the
It flowed into the barn too
I read a blog this last week that really resonated with me, it was entitled "Lost?? Or just not sure where I am." I'm not lost, but I sure do feel like I am not quite sure of where I am or where I'm heading. It's a strange feeling, but it does go along with one of the stories that gets resurrected every now and again between Ian and I. We were on our first trip abroad together and were driving through France when Ian said "Where exactly are we?" That was the wrong question. I could have fobbed him off with something vague, but that isn't quite my style. He had asked a direct question and so I felt it needed a direct answer. The problem was that I didn't know exactly where we were, just approximately and so my response was "I'm not quite sure, I'm a little perplexed. Just give me a few minutes and I will know." My navigation skills are pretty good and I knew we were heading in the right kind of direction, but where that was in relation to the map was just a little unclear as not all the roads were on the map. Give me a nice Ordnance Survey map any day. It wasn't much further on and I was able to say with confidence that I knew exactly where we were now and all was fine, but it was a little unsettling at the time. This is kind of the position I'm in at the moment. I know we are heading in the right direction, but things are just not certain and I'm not sure all the roads ahead are marked. What I do know though, is that we got through that and with God's help we'll get through similar challenges again.
So Ian had to pump it out
The overflow pool
Oh the stuff that goes on in my head. I wonder if I have too much to think about or maybe I just think too much. Not quite sure which. Folks often make the comment that they wonder how I fit everything in and the truth is I don't. My house is a tip - well it is a bit better today, I did a quick clean around and we won't mention the weeds. I meant to take some photos, but I forgot. So yes, I get stuff done after some procrastination but much doesn't that I would like to get done. I do procrastinate rather a lot, but I think that is part of my brain just trying to process something and not quite knowing where to start. Once I get on a roll things don't take me too much time.
Part of the field where the sheep were was flooded. Don't
worry their feet were dry, they were sheltering under a tree
that stands on a bit of a rise. Perhaps not the safest of places in
a thunderstorm, but they don't know that.
The storm passing over
There has been a lot in the news about Gaza and the Malaysian airplane disaster, shocking horrible stuff, but there is a disaster looming of far greater proportions than either of those and yet it seems to be going unreported. A rather wordy article published by UNHCR, the UN's refugee council are considering cutting refugee rations in camps by 60%. That looks mind boggling enough but what that actually works out to is a diet consisting of 850 calories a day. This means malnutrition and all the assorted illnesses that go along with that. Finding the Malaysian airplane that was lost somewhere in the Indian Ocean and carrying 239 people on board has already cost the Australian government US$39million and the UNHCR to feed 800,000 people requires US$39million for nutrition support and US$186million to restore full rations. I do wonder why we can't find the necessary money just to feed people who are alive, when we can find money for those who unfortunately died.
The field flooded again. I think this flood
was the last straw (no pun intended) for the
barley. It looks like it may have rust now

Our own black and brown river. The brown
is from the road, as the run off goes down
a drain under our land

I said it was a gulley washing storm


  1. Glad you managed to get the hay all in before the storms. What lovely neighbours! It makes such a difference to have good neighbours but then you and Ian are so helpful to others and I'm sure that doesn't go unnoticed. Hope all your harvesting goes according to plan.

  2. It sure felt good to get the hay in Mavis. The next round is suffering the same problems of do we don't we. The forecasters keep changing their minds again

  3. Getting up the hay is always one of the most stressful times of the year here too. I always have to keep one eye on the sky (although there's not much I can do if an unexpected rain comes up when the hay is on the ground) and I always worry that I put it up too wet and it's going to burn my barn down. We got our spring cutting down without incident luckily, but I'm considering selling our equipment and just buying hay in the future. There's risk with that of course, but I don't think we use enough hay to justify what I'm doing.

    Sorry you had to battle the deluge, but it looks like you handled it well.

    1. It is far easier to have someone else do the hay if you don't need so much. For us it would be a waste of good hay and we do use a lot of it. We use it as bedding too because that's what is in our fields.

      Just glad the deluge effects weren't long lasting.

  4. it's interesting to learn from you what we are NOT hearing about in the news...what we do hear is bad enough so why hide equally distressing news. And......your house may be a tip and you may have weeds but boy do those beautiful poppies make up for that...

    1. It is indeed interesting what we don't hear about and shows the priorities that the media thinks we have.

      Those poppies are quite a consolation this year I think


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi