I am writing this under a parasol in the garden looking out over the hills and the stunning countryide. The fields are now a patchwork of different colours, green to yellow. Over the last week we have been busy silaging. Now I am a farmer’s wife but I didn’t come from a farming background so here is my idiot’s guide to silaging!
Many farmers grow crops like wheat, barley and maize.
We grow grass. Lots and lots of it!
Why? I hear you cry. Well the grass we harvest now is put in a large pit, ensiled (preserved) and then fed to the cows through the winter months when they can’t go out in the fields because of the whether.
First job is to mow the fields! This has to be timed to perfection and means that Farmer Jon looks at his whether app every few minutes! Ideally a stretch of five dry days is what Jon is after, not a problem this year.
We mow 200 acres on our farm. This job takes one man, his tractor and the mower. After he finishes one field he heads onto the next one until late into the night. You can see the fields he’s done already in the distance.
Next, probably the next day and after the grass has wilted a little, another man on another tractor comes and rows up the grass. This puts the grass into neat rows ready for the forage harvester.
Finally the process of getting the grass back to the hub of the farm and into the silage pitt. One man, his tractor and forage harvester drive along the rows, sucking up the grass and shooting it out into a trailer that is traveliing alongside in synchronization with the forage harvester. Once the trailer is full the tractor takes this to the pit and dumps the grass. As soon as he leaves another tractor and trailer takes his place so that the harvesting never stops.
Back at the farm another man and his tractor take the dumped grass and spread it evenly across the pit. Sounds like an easy job but that’s 1400 tonnes of grass that needs to be evenly distributed!
And finally the pit party!
Sounds like fun? It’s really not!
Farmer Jon likes to call it that but in reality it means covering the pit with a huge sheet of plastic and then carrying and placing hundreds of tyres on top to weigh it down. I’ve been to a few pit parties but I now try and find something urgent that needs doing, such as writing a blog!
This process is repeated every six to eight weeks in the summer months depending on grass growth. So far this year we have done two cuts. Now however we need rain badly and there is none on the horizon.
A farmer is rarely happy with the whether!