Green Hay Project

by richard on August 10, 2014

Our hay meadows are relatively diverse (45-50 species) compared to modern pastures, but lack some of the species found in nearby meadows, such as Pennerley Meadows SSSI, just 1 km north of our land. Using green hay from Pennerley Meadows could potentially add another 20 species to our meadows, so this year we arranged for green hay from Pennerley to be strewn on to some of our meadows. We are grateful to Natural England staff at The Stiperstones NNR (who manage Pennerley Meadows) for allowing use of green hay from Pennerley and to the Stiperstones and Corndon Hill Country Landscape Partnership Scheme for partially funding the project.

Hill Cottage Green Hay 013After our hay had been cut, baled and removed the ‘recipient’ meadows were harrowed to create some bare ground for seeds to germinate. Our contractor then cut Pennerley meadows and round baled the cut material immediately (this is the green hay). He transported it to our meadows and unrolled the bales; there are no photos of this part of the process as he did this around midnight! It’s not essential to do this at night but it is important to spread the green hay quickly so that it doesn’t heat up and kill the seeds.

 

 

Hill Cottage Green Hay 015The next morning we set to work to distribute (strew) the green hay as quickly as possible, so that the seeds will not have dropped from the plants until the hay dries. We had so much green hay we were able to strew the hay over three fields rather than the planned two.

Hill Cottage Green Hay 033

 

 

 

Shortly we will introduce our sheep to the fields as their trampling action should ensure the seeds are in close contact with the soil and hence will germinate better. We now await next spring to see if we have managed to introduce cowslip, greater butterfly orchid, common twayblade and the other species from Pennerley meadows.

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Hay Making

by richard on September 26, 2012

After a poor summer we were losing faith that we would ever get our hay cut and baled, but in the evening of 30th August the contractor Roy called to say the mower was on its way. By 9.30 p.m. the hay was cut – mainly by the light of  a near full moon.

Cut at last!

Then the week of watching the weather began – amazingly the weather held although heavy overnight dews meant turning of the hay couldn’t be done before midday. We came home from a visit to Melton Mowbray rare breeds sale on Saturday 8th September to find it all baled, but with the threat of rain on Monday 10th we had just one day to get it under cover.

Ready for baling - the threatening clouds did not shed their load

So Sunday was spent hauling over 250 bales into our sheep shed – a thoroughly exhausting but rewarding day. We should have more than enough hay for the winter so if you are local to the Shropshire Hill and would like some well made, small bale hay you know where to come!

Hay bales in the sunset and far more than we had dared hope

In the meanwhile we have been buying and selling. Our ram Carrcross Malus (photo in a previous post) sold for a satisfying fourth highest price for a Hebridean ram at the Melton Mowbray sale despite not having been in the show on the previous day. A four-horned ram lamb also sold, although only just made its reserve. We bought two ewes, Sherington Querty and Anelog Anni, the latter by chance from the flock to which Malus had been sold.

Later we bought three ewes from the Craig yr Oryn flock.

Two of the Craig yr Oryn ewes

To make ‘room’ two of our older ewes went to a well-deserved retirement in Cheshire where they can still help to keep the grass short.

Our five new ewes after they had settled down together

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Shrewsbury Sale

July 24, 2012

We took five shearling ewes and two four-horned shearling rams to the Shrewsbury sale on 1st July. We were delighted that one of the ewes, Carrcross Lobivia, won the Primitive Sheep Championship against a strong field including Shetlands and Castlemilk Moorits. However, prices did not reflect her worth and we brought her and one other […]

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April 29, 2012

Our first lambing season in  the South Shropshire Hills has been very successful, despite heavy snow that curtailed the release of the newly lambed ewes on to the fresh pasture they had craved all winter. They were returned to the sheepshed for a few days, but the ewes that were still to lamb (below) and […]

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