Sunday, 9 September 2012

Silage in September, and calves away.

The weather on parts of the west coast including Mull has been pretty good this summer - to say the least! I suppose it goes without saying that as soon as we really need some consistently good and dry weather though, it will begin to be unsettled! And so September came in - 1st September being the date we are allowed to cut certain fields for silage - with alternative good and bad days - drying sunshine and light wind, alternating with downpours and stronger winds...

The Haunn field is our silage field this year. Earlier in the summer it was ablaze with drifts of colour from the many varieties of wild flower that seem to thrive with the way the field is managed. We rotate which fields we cut on a 4 year rotation, a habit we picked up when we were farming organically, and one that suits our zero artificial fertiliser system the best. The only fertiliser we use is well rotted FYM (farmyard manure).

Jamie was available to help the Farmer this week and having consulted xcweather they cut, baled and wrapped one half of the field before Thursday's wet and windy storm! That bit of field yielded 2 months worth of winter food for the cows.

Jamie drove the baler, which picks up and packs the cut grass into bales. This year they have made the bales slightly smaller. The net wrap holds it all together before the bale is wrapped. Releasing the finished bale means slowing the tractor down, the baler sounds as if it is about to stall each time it drops the bale, so you hold your breath - just in case - before the tractor speeds up and starts on the next one. To save time on the wrapper, Farmer moved the bales into one place before they started baling.

With the lambs gone, it was time to wean the calves, and this year we are taking the calves to a traditional breeds sale in Stirling. The lorries were full for the Oban sale so our only choice was for Stirling or waiting for a later sale date. Farmer brought the cows and calves up from the New Field into Black Park a couple of days before, and last night got them into the shed so that the calves would be easy to load this morning when the lorry arrived. They are well on their way to the market by now, and will stay overnight in a field beside the market, before going into the ring tomorrow. We hope we will do better at a traditional breed sale than our last experiences at the local sales - where the buyers come looking for more continental beasts.

What was wonderful to see were the swallows hawking and swooping over the sward. A lovely view too!

Coco is still growing and becoming very nimble on her back legs. She almost stands up on them. Unfortunately this nimble-ness means that she can see over the edge of the kitchen table now.

Regular readers of the blog may know that I am partial to photographing tin sheds. On Thursday I went off with my neighbour (potter Charlotte Mellis) to Skye to look at a tin shed or two. We discovered the Tattie Bogal Festival on the west coast of Skye.

This one was called Bert Droppings.

This one was called Chris Hoy. I loved the backdrop of course.
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