This is one of my favourite times of year in our quiet corner of Devon.
Our spring crops have been planted and are thriving in the warm sunshine. The grass has been growing so well that it is now time to cut it and store it to feed our sheep and cattle through the winter. We have recently made some round bale silage. This involves cutting a field of grass and leaving it to dry. We generally leave it in situ for a couple of days, turning it twice a day to reduce the moisture content. When it is ready a local contractor comes to the farm and in farming terms ‘rues up’, which basically means a racking machine puts it into neat rows for the baler. Afterwards, another tractor and baler compacts the grass into round bales and wraps it in black plastic – the bales are stored in plastic so that the grass ferments into silage. The cattle love to eat this in the colder months of the year. While we were baling this year, a friend came along with his drone and took some wonderful photos of the field and our farm.
This time of year must also be the favourite time of year for our animals. The cattle are always so excited when we let them into the fields in the spring; so glad to stretch their legs after being in the sheds all winter. During the long summer days they clearly love lying out in the fields and soaking up the sunshine whilst munching on the fresh grass – not a bad life! Our sheep are also having a quiet time, as all of the lambs have now gone. The ewes are enjoying a well-earned break before the rams are reintroduced and the breeding cycle begins again. The weather has been very kind to us in Devon this spring meaning our ewes have had lots of grass to eat. Eating too much does have consequences, as us humans know only too well, and some of our sheep are slightly overweight! They have been put on a diet, but unfortunately not quick enough for the sheep-shearers who visited a couple of weeks ago. They found some of our larger ladies a little difficult to handle! The shearers worked really hard for two of days, shearing off all the fleeces. This is such an important job, as removing the fleeces keeps the sheep much cooler and also prevents pests attacking them.
I also love this time of year because we get the opportunity to escape from the farm and visit some of the fantastic places around us. We are planning a couple of days to the coast – one lazy, sunbathing day to a beach in South Devon and another surfing at Croyde in North Devon. The one day agricultural shows are also a fantastic way to highlight what every region in Devon has to offer. The Mid Devon Show on 23rd July is one not to be missed!
Well I hope you get time to soak up the sunshine, like our animals, and enjoy your summer!