Hay Day

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Make hay while the sun shines! There is a lot of tall grass around Leafhopper Farm this week, so I took the scythe to the fields and did a little mowing. I’m getting the hang of using a large cutting blade in rhythmic swinging to bring down cane and brush. These hay stacks are glorious shaped mound of bounty from the land, and a pleasure to sculpt. Each cutting was brought down, sun dried for a day or two, and them raked up. If the grasses sit in the sun for too long, all the nutrients is cooked out of them, so I have to time all this harvest just right.

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These cuttings are still too green to stack, so I’ve spread them out for another day of drying. If you stack up wet hay and put it into the barns, you could end up with a fire. Green manure left to pile up will get so hot, it combusts. I’m not dealing with a lot of hay at this time, just what I cut around the buildings and driveway in zone one, but it’s still a lot of biomass.

Keeping walking paths and roads open is most important. Last year, I used a weed wacker borrowed from a neighbor to keep things clear. This year, I fully embraced my scythe and have really enjoyed the non-motorized work. I get an ab work out, avoid fuel consumption, and remove material with more awareness, leaving flowers and rare species intact. I’m also taking time to really look at my land, learn the grasses, and better appreciate the growth developing here.

This is the third year I’ve gathered hay, and though it’s only a small amount of what I will need to feed my goats through the winter, it’s a great use of grass clippings and the goats are happy with their native feast. In late August, I hope to have a larger mower make a sweep of the place, because there is a lot of grass still up. Cutting it makes the grass healthier, and more palatable to the grazing animals. Ideally, in the next few years, there will be enough grazing animals here at Leafhopper Farm to do most of the mowing themselves, but it’s nice to have a little hay put away for a rainy day.

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