A few weeks ago we hosted the wedding of Sally and Andrew.
What a great event! Throughout the day the atmosphere was relaxed. Guests arrived with their tents and set up at the far end of the field. Andrew and a team of family and friends busily put the final touches to the preparations while The Milestone (www.the-milestone.co.uk) set up the bar and prepared to cook. Hannah Millard (www.hannahmillardphotography.co.uk) was a subtle presence during the afternoon and her images have captured the essence of the day very effectively. Sunshine and a gentle breeze enabled our solar panels and wind turbines to produce all the electricity that was needed while the Tipi tent (www.papakata.co.uk) looked magnificent both inside and out. In the evening the fire pit was a dramatic focal point and kept everyone warm into the early hours.
The next day guests cooked breakfast in the field and caught up with each other’s news while their children played football and ran around the farm.
Our larger scale events such as weddings take place in our ‘hay’ field. Typically our hay is harvested between mid June and the end of July. This year we planned to cut it in June because we have a number of events in July but, of course, the weather has not been kind.
Hay making needs a run of several sunny days. First the grass has to be mown. Then it is turned several times until it becomes very dry. Only then can it be baled and moved into the barn in preparation to feed our horses and ponies during the winter. It also has to be stored for a few months to cure. Freshly cut hay is not easily digested.
Without a run of several sunny days to make hay my thoughts turned to making haylage. This is very similar to hay but slightly damper. It is made into large round bales and wrapped in polythene to keep out oxygen. The combination of the slightly damper material and oxygen causes the haylage to degrade and rot. Even though it is damper when baled, present conditions are too damp.
So, the answer this year is to make silage out of the grass from the area that we need for our events. Today one neighbour (Clive Quamby) mowed the area and tomorrow another neighbour (Alan Russell) is going to bale and wrap as silage. Silage is freshly cut grass that is immediately or almost immediately baled and wrapped (or stored in a large clamp). The moisture content is high and it makes a very rich feed that is ideal for cattle but no good for horses. Alan will therefore be taking this part of our crop for his cattle.
Hopefully we will be able to make some hay or haylage with the grass from the rest of the field later in the summer. How many of you wedding planners have the silage/haylage/hay question on your checklists?
Hay making in the sunshine – June 2011