I had fallen asleep around 11 o’clock on Saturday night. I’d been up to Philip and Aileen’s house for my tea; barbecued chicken, fried vegetables, baby potatoes finished on the barbecue and salads. It was fresh and so lovely.
When Philip was dropping me home, we met the grass rake on the way down the road after raking up the grass in Plot 5. It had been cut as it was gone too strong for grazing.
The plot runs along the side of the drive so I will enjoy it being like a lawn for a while. Tim was gone to Bantry to judge a Macra public speaking competition. We always enjoy giving back to the organisation that taught us so much in our earlier days. I woke the following morning to the sound of soft rain on the window. “Damn, the silage will be wet,” was my first thought. Going down stairs, I found Tim beaming ear to ear! “Adrian came last night and baled the silage and the rain is falling on the grass seeds.”
It had been a busy few days. Many of these big farm decisions start with the all-important grass walk. I tag along when I can. On Thursday, Tim called for me and we headed off for a bit of a lazy grass walk. The jeep would do most of the walking! The weather was lovely, the birds were singing loudly and farmers all around us were busy. Re-seeding is top of the agenda at the moment because keeping grass quality right for the cows is hugely important to keep milk production up and to keep the quality of the milk at the highest standard. We headed out the fields for a real feast of loveliness.
Heading down the Well Field, the white majestic farmhouse across the valley was bathed in sunshine. That’s very much part of Woodside’s story. Tim’s first cousin Donal and his wife Mary live there. It is the house where Tim’s father was born. The dogs were running with us, Bran, an Australian Kelpie and my dog Lola, a Pyrenean X Mountain Dog. The wind was in the dogs hair and they were loving the trip.
Speedy, the old Sheepdog was keeping to a shorter route closer to the house and farmyard. His ageing arthritic bones restrict him.
Like all good workers, he spares his energy for work. The Stony Field off to our left had been round-upped in preparation for discing for grass seed.
Tim stepped out and did a bit of a walk. He put the numbers into the little white ICBF book. Some whitethorn bushes are flowering beautifully. The dogs paused while Tim made further notes, their ears were up, anxious for the next run.
Along the lane way, there are bluebells under the whitethorn bushes. A spectacular combination that is easily replicated in the garden. I speculate 1,200 of a cover in the lawn, Tim walks it and concurs. That makes me feel good. There are young ferns opening along the lane. Harts tongue plants are glossy green. Wood anenomies have faded and have been replaced by bluebells and delicate violets.
Farms are beautiful places. We come into the High Field, the lush pasture is blowing on the side of the hill, the big clover leaves bob amidst the grass. There is a huge chestnut tree in flower just where the lane turns in the direction of home. It’s been growing for 11 days. Tim calculated a growth rate of 100 from his previous figures. He is well pleased. We head back towards Plot 5. It’s too strong at 2,000kg DM/ha. It has to be taken out. The average growth rate works out at 93 with a demand of 82.
By the end of our jeep journey. Tim has decided that the weather is suitable for stitching grass seeds. He’s had a conversation with his son in law David and the job is set up for the next morning! He’s talked to Adrian about baling Plot 5.
At this time of year, farming decisions are made quickly. One has to be able to respond to the changing weather and conditions. I love being part of it all even if for now I’m just a passenger along for the ride on a busy, beautiful day.