Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Hay Time

Hay making was an interesting time and great fun too, I really enjoyed it. I’d been watching the weather and the other farmers and when the forecast changed and threatened rain I knew I was going to have to get cutting on my own. While cutting on the Friday I kept a good look out for leverets and I found 2. I thought I’d photographed them – I actually stroked the ears of one of them but no photographs were on the camera when I downloaded. I tried checking the camera screen while out in the field but the sun was so bright I couldn’t see a thing.

The buzzard, along with a couple of other smaller birds of prey and a few crows were following me round the field so I chased the leverets into the cover of the surrounding ditch to give them a chance of avoiding the circling horde. I didn’t see the buzzard take anything but the smaller birds had a couple of mice and the crows seemed to be after the locusts. The locusts have grown so quickly; about a month ago they were average size now they are more or less full size, 3 inches, long. I love watching them fly, they seem to me to be like fluttering fairies – hmm maybe I spend too long in the sun. What I also spotted were the beautiful cornflowers and some camomile, so the bunch of flowers at the end of the blog are now adorning my kitchen and just yell summer to me.

Regis arrived Saturday morning and showed me how to set up the tedder and then I spent a very pleasant time turning the hay. As I’ve said in previous posts, there wasn’t much so it dried really quickly and in the afternoon I put it into windrows. Sunday, Regis was away so baling was done on Monday and is in Monday’s post.

So Monday afternoon found me lying on my back on the top of a hay cart surrounded by wonderful sweet smelling hay with a cloudless azure sky above and brilliant sunshine. Life doesn’t get better than that.

We got about 100 bales off the field and have stacked them in the hay loft attached to the house. It was an interesting experience; I’d not been brave enough to venture up there on my own. Nothing to do with any possible inhabitants there but whether the floorboards were rotten. They creaked and bent a bit in places but held and we got the two trailer loads of hay safely stored.

That evening I gave the alpacas some of the hay from the broken bales. They ate it quite quickly so I took some more down a couple of hours later. They almost mugged me for it; I dropped some as the bale was falling apart but continued over to the hayrack to put out the rest. When I turned round they were almost fighting over what I’d dropped. I think I have some very happy alpacas and I’m happy too. They’ve got good hay again and I’ve got easy to manage bales, I can carry it down in one hand and each bale fills the hayrack and there’s no dust or bad hay to sort through. Suddenly feeding them has become a 10 minute job rather than the ¾ hour it used to take to pull enough good hay from the large bales.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Fabulous Friends

I’m blessed with some wonderful friends, some who have been mentioned in the blog and some who haven’t. Some have helped me if what are outwardly little ways but they are there and many little ways mount up to a very large way, there are others who have stood by me through my emotional crises and their contribution is really unlikely to be acknowledged in a blog but they are always there and there are those who step in when something needs to be done and help me to get things finished. I’m also lucky to count my children as friends too. I am really grateful to all of them. I know it’s always dangerous writing about particular friends as it’s possible to make the others feel they aren’t appreciated as much but today I’m going to risk it. Over the last couple of days I’ve had major help and it’s lifted a great weight from my shoulders.

On Monday, Regis came round as promised; he’d asked round his farming friends on Sunday and had been told how to use my tedder to combine the rows of drying hay to reduce the amount of traversing the baler would need to do. The hay from the paddock field being really sparse had by now thoroughly dried. Having combined some rows it was onto the baler. With great in trepidation we got it started; it clanked, it whirred it chopped and compressed and then it broke the baler twine.

Half an hour or so later; once we’d worked out how to correctly thread the twine, Regis set off again while I checked to see if it was working. Everything seemed fine but when it chucked the bales out the back they fell apart, the twine wasn’t being knotted. More adjustments, try again and the same results. Time to call in help in the form of Mr Bonetti who has the local agricultural machine repair place. After riding on the back of the baler watching what was happening he decided that he couldn’t see anything wrong and suggested that the baler twine might be the culprit.

I’d tried to get sisal but the local agricultural merchant didn’t have any so I’d got the plastic baler twine as time was of the essence. Luckily Regis had some sisal twine in the back of one of his barns, left over from when his father was farming and raised cattle. Once they were run through if worked perfectly. I spent a very hot morning running along behind the baler stacking the bales in groups to speed up the collection of them later in the day. Ann then came round following here morning commitments and after a communal lunch we loaded the bales onto the trailer and from there into the barn. All in all I think there were a hundred bales, which should see the alpacas through until they get into the fields. I then have another field to cut for the winter hay but I don’t think that will be until July because of the waterlogged ground.

As if that wasn’t enough cause for joy, C and S who have a home nearby popped round and C said that if I was around in the morning he would pop over and put up the errant corner cupboard. Can you imagine my elation?

C duly arrived and after a good couple of hours got the cupboard up and more importantly level. It had taken a great deal of adjustment, repeated trials against the wall, packing in some areas and eventually a cold chisel to make a recess in another area before it was up. After that the two flanking cupboards were relatively easy although a couple of strategic battens are still required for long term piece of mind just to ensure there is no chance of the cupboards being able to lever themselves off the wall.

So in the space of 48 hours the two most pressing jobs to be done have been done and I know what a lucky person I am having the friends I do.