The Hay Making Season Begins!

The first few windrows in the early morning sun.

The first few windrows in the early morning sun.

With the sun out and shining, and promising to stay so for the rest of the week, the 2013 hay making season at the Trust has got underway.
Awkwardly, we already had plans to be away over last weekend, meaning we could not start as early in the weather window as we would have liked. Philip did, however, cut a quarter of an acre into the Top Field on Friday morning as an experiment in “Lazy” hay making. The hay was spread Friday lunchtime once the morning moisture had dried off the ground, then left untouched until today (Monday) when we returned.

Hay is usually turned several times during drying, to speed up the process and ensure that drying is even throughout the crop. As expected, the hay we left lying un-turned all weekend was bone dry on the top, but still rather green on the underside, especially next to the hedge where the grass is lusher. This morning we rowed the hay up and re-spread it, mixing it up in the process and bringing the greener parts to the surface to dry.

By this evening, the hay furthest out from the hedge was ready to bring into the barn. The hay is full of Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) at this point in the field. True to it’s name, the dried seed heads of the Yellow Rattle made a loud, dry rattling sound as the hay was handled. The crop nearer the hedge is heavier and gets shaded by the hedge for part of the day, so will need more drying time tomorrow.

Phil mowed a few more windrows early this morning, and will mow more again tomorrow. We will be handling this hay by our more usual methods – look out for further reports here throughout the week.

The hay on Monday morning - dry on top and.....

The hay on Monday morning – dry on top and…..

......still a bit wet underneath.

……still a bit wet underneath.

Scalloped pattern created by the scythe along the edge of the mown patch.

Scalloped pattern created by the scythe along the edge of the mown patch.

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