Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Up at the Crack of Sparrow's

This morning I have an alarm set (rare these days!) and I'm up at the crack of sparrow's while the morning is still cool, to put in a solid hour of weeding in the poly-tunnel. That is just not possible in this sweltering heatwave. I was all done by 07:00 and able to release the chickens, move, water and shade the rabbits and put the geese in the orchard by about quarter to 8 before sliding back in to bed to wake up 'normally' at a sensible time and bring Liz up her 'tay'. Other than that impressive burst of heat-avoiding labour, I achieved precious little today, taking my Old Father Time scythe to some nettles, gathering up our second batch of made hay and a bit of weeding among the spuds later on when the hedge gave me some shade.

My little hay-making efforts are made laughable by the outside activities which are announced by a roar so loud we think that maybe Knock Airport have sneakily extended their runway, and a Boeing jet has landed in Vendor Anna's field over the road. No. The "contractors" have arrived to roar, crash and bang a field into hay for Mike the Cows. It's all BIG equipment compared to what I have known and worked with; big powerful tractors which make an impressive racket when revved up to power the big hay-tedders, balers and wrappers.

I understand that this is something called 'haylage' they are making. The silage is mowed, left to wilt for just a night, then baled green and still fairly damp, so it is baled tight to exclude air and wrapped airtight so that instead of rotting it does (I think; though I do not really know silage; we only ever made hay) a short ferment to use up the oxygen, and then is preserved by its internal chemistry till the winter when it is needed. This haylage is much dryer, so it has to be dried and tossed about with the tedder for a couple of hot sunny days before baling.

As well as the heat, dust and noise, the roar of revving diesel engines and the caterpillar-track noise of the baler belts and the booming clang of the back hatch opening to eject the completed bale, we are impressed by the sheer speed of the operation. This field is only 2 acres or so, but the convoy rolls up, roars about for less than an hour and then moves on to the next field leaving a naked 'aftermath' and a tidy row of wrapped round bales. Quiet, tranquil country sounds, though, they are not!

As our pond is intended to be a wildlife pond, we are always delighted when a new species turns up and today we were really pleased to 'get' our first dragon fly. He seems to be quite happy and gives the impression of having taken over, thank you very much. He rests on the top of a pond-side hosta flower-spike and then flies circuits around the pond and, later, the front lawn. He was settled enough for me to snatch a couple of pictures using the 200 mm lens, so I was able to post these on the Facebook pages for Irish Wildlife and for Kent Wildlife Trust asking for an expert ID. Both came back very quickly with the answer that he is a male 4-spot 'Chaser', (Libellula quadrimaculata) so I have added him to the Irish Bio-Diversity data base for our map reference.

But now it is 9 pm and I must nip out and shut my Marans hens up, who are still the last to go to bed. Liz is out at 'Knit and Natter' with Carolyn and back soon. In other news we now have a date for the arrival of our lambs, the last week in August. This means that the holiday here that the three lovely mini-horses have been enjoying, growing fat and sleek on Roscommon grass must come to an end. One of them, Bob, does not get on with sheep, apparently and tries to run them over and, anyway, our poor, shaved grass needs a few weeks to recover between the horses and the sheep. Carolyn has agreed to take them away by the end of July. We'll be sad to see them go as they have been excellent fun; they are great characters as well as being very picturesque and a beautiful sight grazing the front lawn or galloping madly round the East Field in the early morning dew. Still, once we are through to December and the lambs 'finished', maybe they can come back for another holiday.

No comments: