After a hot, dry May, the Lakes weather is back to its old ways and we're currently having a rather damp spell.
Hopefully there will be a warmer, drier window for a few days in mid-August where we can cut and collect the grass for winter feed (it will be a rare event in Cumbria to get three dry days in a row but it has been known to happen!). We will mow 60 acres of meadowland to make into hay and haylage - a slightly damper version - which will be collected and stored as round bales to cut into at a later date when needed. It is species rich grassland made up of herbs, plants and wildflowers which, when cut later in the season, have had a chance to grow and set seed. It gives a varied diet for the cattle and sheep to sustain them through the lean months when grass growth is lower.
In early July our shepherdess and an external contractor spent two days clipping the sheep. Unfortunately the wool isn't worth as much as it once was so it's not a money making exercise, but it is something we have to do each summer as the temperatures rise to prevent infection from flies.
Another annual job with the sheep at this time of year is weaning the lambs from the ewes. The lambs are now 4 months old and able to live on summer grass growth without milk. The ewes go up to the high ground to dry off and regain weight before breeding in winter.
Twenty new Belted Galloway 12-month-old heifers and bullocks have arrived as part of our conservation grazing plan. Through selective eating, trampling and rolling, as well as their dung, the cattle help maintain the delicate habitat and its nutrients balance to benefit wildlife. The cows stay out all year round, growing slowly to produce a delicious, high quality protein product after about 5 years.
Let's make hay whilst the sun. . . hides?!