July always seems to be “grass grazing” month here, while we finally get our silage and hay underway due to GLAS regulations.

Whilst I’m certainly not against schemes to help wildlife and biodiversity, in recent years I’ve questioned the choice of putting every single meadow we have into the Traditional Hay Meadow option.

As farmers all around us were putting their first crops in, we were twiddling our thumbs and watching the grass grow, or not grow, as was the case in the cold month of May.

When we finally got underway, we only managed two thirds of the crop before the weather broke, though we opted to do all our heavy meadows first which took a weight off our shoulders, as the bulk of our winter feeding was brought in safely.

Character building

Surprisingly, this is a bumper year so far, with nearly all of our meadows yielding a higher number of bales than usual.

This is possibly a combination of lime being spread last year, and the extra slurry we had due to the long winter, but either way we’ll take all the extra bales we can get as you never know when they’ll be needed.

As usual, when we had a scorcher of a week in early July, Dad decided on some “character building” and cut two small meadows to be turned and gathered by hand into cocks of hay.

It’s an enjoyable job, albeit dusty and tiresome, as there is great satisfaction seeing a field finished with golden stacks of hay dotted here and there.

That loose hay was short lived though, as it’s currently feeding a cow who’s in the shed for calving. Perhaps it wasn’t such a senseless task after all.

The cow certainly doesn’t seem to think so as she munches her way through that small pile of very traditional loose hay.

It’s certainly the one time of year that I’m glad of our wet soil

While more southern lands are roasting in the current heatwave, we’re thankful that it dries out our wetter land and allows us to do some better grass management where we normally wouldn’t be able to access without a few prayers and hopeful driving.

It’s certainly the one time of year that I’m glad of our wet soil, as the grass growth really comes into its own with the heat driving it on.

Homegrown veg

Our small vegetable garden is also rocketing up as well, with the first new potatoes almost starting a small war at the dinner table. There’s nothing quite like homegrown potatoes, and they’re certainly worth the effort of planting and weeding each spring.

While we don’t have enough to last for a year, we’ll be eating them until well into autumn, with different varieties being ready for harvesting to keep a continuous supply for the dinner table.

As I often say to my father, all we need now is a pig in the garden to make our own bacon and we’d be well on our way to minimising our food miles.

While we’re busy eating our fill of those, our creep feeder has also been put out with the calves.

While they’re not eating much just yet, it does take some stress off the cows.

Most of which have been served and gone in calf, though fingers crossed they’ll all stay in calf as there’s been a lot of reports of cattle repeating around the country so far this year.