The last few weeks have been a tense time, constantly watching the weather and being disappointed when day after day we had rain. And not just a shower, but gallons of the stuff pouring from the clouds.
We got off to a bad start when the wheel broke off the tractor when we were cutting the grass. A neighbour had to winch us out of a very boggy area.
Whenever there was a hint of sunshine we were out there turning the grass and making plans to bale. Time after time we were disappointed when the black clouds moved overhead. We thought we would never get started and were worried that the grass laying in the field would be ruined.
There have only been a couple of days in the whole of this month when it has been possible to bale any hay and we took full advantage, working late into the night and bringing in the bales by moonlight.
Today we weren’t expecting rain until 4pm so we were working furiously to get the last of it done. Typically the heavens opened up at 2pm and it was a race against time to get them all loaded onto the trailer and into the dry barn. We can only hope that they were dry enough to prevent rot and spontaneous combustion!
Despite the bad start we have 333 bales to feed the beasts over winter and the problem facing us now is where to put them.
The remaining sheep all sheared, we turned our attention to this year’s crop of hay.
We were lucky enough to spot a square baler for sale in the local ads paper, and after an inspection and a quick trial (stationary, feeding straw through manually) all seemed in order. Having sealed the deal we arranged to have it transported to us, but had to reverse our neighbours borrowed tractor onto the low loader to tow it off. Hair raising!
The bad news was that after trying it out again, it wasn’t working properly – the knotters weren’t knotting! After taking a closer look we thought we had identified the cause, and to confirm it one of our neighbours came for a peek. It turns out that they used to own one of the same model (over 30 years ago!), and were familiar with it.
Suitably instructed, we set about the repairs, and within a day our neighbour returned with his tractor for a trial run. Success! Straw in one end, bales out the other.
Feeling confident, we watched the weather closely and arranged to have the grass cut at what later turned out to be the perfect time. What followed was 4 days of scorching weather, and on the fifth day, we produced 250 bales with our baler (and borrowed tractor!).
Blitz (pictured) declared the bales suitable, and went off for a snooze…
Despite the weather, we finally decided to cut the grass for hay. After turning it a couple of times with our neighbour’s ‘Wuffler’ (pictured), it decided to rain some more! As a consequence, the hay was on the ground slightly longer but we finally managed to bale it at the end of the month, and managed 250 bales. That should keep us going for winter!
In the meantime, our pig moves were completed just in time for Piggy to have her piglets. One new electric fence required for that.
Another electric fence was needed to move Pippa and Billy (Dexter cows) into a fresh paddock. This was the first time they’d been moved into this area, and Billy was gambolling around with excitement!
And finally, as our ram lambs are starting to mature we needed to move them away from the ewes and ewe lambs. Thankfully this was relatively painless, and just a little chasing was required!
Perhaps we’ll have a rest in September…
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Smithy Croft, Strichen, Fraserburgh, AB43 6SL. United Kingdom