Life on the Farm column with Frances Graham

Baling silage down the dale. It was then wrapped and taken back home.
Baling silage down the dale. It was then wrapped and taken back home.

After a week of the weather being a dry day, then a wet one, we finally decided at the first sign of the weather picking up we would mow our grass down the dale.

My dad gave up watching the forecast last week as it showed rain for us most days which never really added up to a big deal, so he sent me to mow the grass hoping that we made the right decision.

We never used to have any land down the dale, but because we went into stewardship schemes we decided to make silage away from the farm so that we could keep our stock numbers the same.

In stewardship schemes the amount of stock you keep can be restricted.

The fields may not be able to have fertiliser applied, so the amount of grass growth is restricted to protect the wildflowers and try to keep the fields as traditional as possible.

Both my dad and I are unsure whether this is just going a step too far as what we have in the fields now is there because of how we have farmed up to now.

Restricting farmers is making the fields go backwards.

Making the silage away is becoming more important because the land isn’t producing what it used to produce at home.

After we mowed the grass we left it until the next day to scatter it out as when we started mowing the weather was getting better, but there just wasn’t enough sun in the day to kill the grass that afternoon.

It did keep looking like it could rain, but it never did.

We only had to scatter it out the once as the weather came that good the grass soon killed, a good breeze and a bit of sun made it into some good silage.

We did leave it until the next day to pick up, we rake the grass up into a row and then bale it up.

We lead the bales into one field to wrap, my brother does this as he likes using the spikey bale trailer.

There is a knack to it, it takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do its easy.

Once they are led into the field then they are wrapped, we put six layers of wrap on these bales compared to four layers as we have to take them back home.

There is less chance of tearing the wrap and making a hole in the bale if they have six layers on.

We lead the bales back home when we have chance, we like to do it sooner rather than later because the grass can die off where the bales have been left, so it encourages weeds to grow.

The silage we make down the dale normally has more feed value in than what we make at home and also it is easier to make silage down the dale as the weather is normally better!

Now the weather is more like summer I have started getting ready for clipping.

We clip the sheep in the sheds at home where the cows have overwintering.

The first job to do was to muck the sheds out. We soon had this done and it looks more like a shed to clip in than before.

We have a pen to put up in the feed passage that is just to bolt to the floor and shed and then we can start clipping.

The sheep stand in one of the sheds that we have just cleaned out and then they come into the feed passage to be clipped.

We haven’t started yet, but I think we will have to this week as the weather is very warm now.

I know I wouldn’t want to have a woolly coat on in this weather would you?