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More hay, going to Crosby and weights... : Latest blogs from @SoilAssociation

More hay, going to Crosby and weights...

Emma Heseltine - 05 August 2012

We have got some hay but have another five fields to cut. This week Susan decides to go for it so we cut two at Wallace Field and two at Houghton. I even get a chance to have a go with the mower in the dark on the big Houghton field, it’s an impressive bit of machinery and the big Massey is somewhat smoother than the little old one which has a door missing and a fairly suspect seat (but I love it!) With four fields lying it is going to be a busy week.

Helena and Kendal are going on a little holiday. We are taking them to Crosby where there is some land we have just started to graze. It’s quite a large area and is somewhat overgrown and boggy with lots of reeds to hide in. Cypress and Kookaburra are already there and when we turf them out there is much frolicking and mooing as the cattle get re-acquainted. It’s a nice spot for them and the calves will have fun running about in the reeds.

By Thursday the weather for the weekend is looking dire. On Friday we decide to make a move. Wallacefield is not quite hay material so Susan decides to make Haylage, big square bales. It’s all going on over at Aramthwaite but I’m at Houghton working on the big Houghton field. I turn it twice in the morning and it’s starting to look like hay, the sun comes out and the breeze picks up, good news. Now it needs rowing up. By moving the tines on the hay bob to an outward position and putting two rakes on the back I can use the same machine to whisk the hay into rows so the baler can come along and scoop it up. At about 2pm its action stations as John and the baler appears. We hook it up to the little Massey and I’m away, it takes me a lot of concentration to keep it going, there are some boggy bits and I almost get stuck several times. I break two shear bolts, once by picking up a tine I lost of the hay bob and once by just getting too much damp hay in the baler in one go. It’s unfortunate and slows us down but it’s not a disaster. By 9pm the field is baled and I resemble a zombie. We need to pop to Wallacefield to get some sheets to cover the bales and it’s a great chance to see the big balers going. In the dark two big square balers, lights a blazing roll into Dock field and start to scoop up the hay followed by a wrapper. It’s pretty spectacular. At one point there are eight tractors working on the two farms. It’s a long day but at the end we have a lot of forage for our creatures.

I’ve got to see if my pigs are growing. Now the easiest way would be to weigh them on the scales, but they are at Wallacefield and I don’t fancy doing it with the bathroom scales. That would involve catching each pig and standing on the scales with them. They do not like being picked up, I don’t blame them. Fortunately there is a third way. If you measure length and girth then multiply and divide by eleven for a medium fat pig you get an estimate of weight. It’s definitely not that accurate but gives an idea. I distract the girls with breakfast and measure them with the farmer’s friend, baler twine. Seems my girls are right on target…

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.

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