Tag Archives: silage

How Those Big Black Bales in Fields are Made, and Baby Animals

They are made with a mix of equipment, a number of tractors, specialised machinery. You start with your field of course:

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You cut the grass (we are making silage here, not hay) with your rather older tractor and blades:

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You spread the grass out fairly evenly, because the farmer down the way is bringing in newer, more specialised equipment that requires this:

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And then the bad boys come along — a father and son duo who have bought these to manage their own 200 acres and earn more money from them helping smaller farmers out because look at what these tractors do. The first collects all the spread hay into larger lines the correct size:

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Correct size for what? For this massive tractor-baler combination that sweeps up the hay and spins it all into this round bale so fast the air is whipped right out of it:

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It pings when ready, and the driver waits a moment, and then as the bale is being wrapped in black plastic wrap, he can continue forming the next bale:

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I know it pings because, look at me! I’m in a tractor! It was pretty awesome.

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Also awesome was sitting for a while and watching the tractors at work, it had been a long hard day.

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I also learned to chop wood today, and learned that I really enjoy chopping wood. It started out humbling because I was really really terrible. But I got better.

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And finally, the baby animals that started and ended my work day:

Sandy, the lovely calf:

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I love her.

The lambs are alright, but fight and fight to get their milk and do all kinds of headbutting at the bottles so they often lose their grip all together — Sandy just gives one great head butt when she’s finished (I so was not ready for that my first go round), but still I feel for the mothers of the animal kingdom. I have to catch two of the lambs in this pen and feed them, and then the other two, or total mayhem will ensue because these are greedy little buggers:

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Lilly the Kid, perched up on this brick asking me for more corn after her bottle — she is too little to push her way in amongst the others to get to the one of the two buckets.

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We also found this perfect little mouse’s nest under the shed we moved from the field that was mowed, it was quite wondrous:

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All of these things help me feel a little better after continuing to receive rejections, a particularly mean one today. At least the £1,000 advance from Verso stands against the flow…

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The great mucking out

A long day, tiring day today — it occurred to me that this is the first place that is actually fully engaged in what I always thought of as farming. I know that realisation is a bit slow to hit me, but it is very different from the other two places. So we started with the baby animals as always. They are quickly becoming ‘work’ rather than ‘baby animals’, though I am trying to fight it. I am still learning, and realised feeding a big lamb half a bottle and a small lamb a full bottle in one pen is a really bad idea. I ended up mostly sitting on the big lamb once it had finished, but the poor little guy got his full meal. Then off to feed Lilly the Kid, and Bob joined us there and so part of the morning was spent mucking out the goats. When I came back to start it was quite a crew, attracted by the corn and the hay:

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This is now clear with the help of a 15 year old German boy, here because Steiner schools require all children that age to spend a month on the farm. He likes to be always clean, he wears almost only cobalt blue shirts with a little straw fedora of a matching colour (though he broke out the white tank top today), has very cool mirrored sunglasses, and he wants to be a DJ — I have heard a lot of German dance music in the past two days.

That done, we got the sheep shed ready for Bob to come in with the tractor and take the immense amount of muck away — disassembling the pen and removing all the layers of disgusting from the troughs and things. Thank god the tractor can be used to rid the place of several feet of ugh. I weeded for a bit. Then we took a little break to watch Bob begin mowing our field — I do really love tractors. We had some German dance music. We span around clockwise three times to make sure the skies stayed blue, on pagan advice. It is quite a team we have here.

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Then I mucked out the front of the cattle shed for a few hours. But it was made better by a few episodes more of Night Vale.

I took no pictures of the muck.

Fed the baby animals, and the rest of the goats as well.

The view from my caravan at the end of the day, with Molly’s destroyed football in just the right place to ruin everything tomorrow when the neighbour with the bailer comes to roll all of this up for silage (a process where grass is collected wet and sealed up to ferment through an anaerobic process — anaerobic, how cool is that? Meaning without oxygen, like early life on the planet don’t you know…):

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