Swallows I’ve been mowing our fields. Despite having fifty-one head grazing out there, still, this time of year, we have too much grass. The goal is to not let it go into “stage 3” growth, or blow out to seed and be done growing for the year. Keeping it in “stage 2” growth will extend it into winter, so we have to buy less feed. I didn’t make it, again.

Our far pasture has many species of grass, and though some of them are slower growing, others shoot up fast and seed out. But I did manage to get it cut before it was really done with. I think its salvageable and will continue to grow for the rest of the summer so the sheep have plenty to eat. In some sections, I waited for the sheep to graze down the tall grass, and then I cut the stems they left behind. Kirk likes to mow, and has been doing a lot of mowing elsewhere on the property. But he is allergic to grass seed. So once it’s hit this stage in the sheep fields, then it’s all me!

I am interested in trying to cut some of it for hay during the summer. Last year I hunted for someone willing to bale it. But our fields are pretty small, and it’s not worth someone’s time to bring all the equipment here unless they can also cut something else nearby. We have a vacant farm lot next to us, and I called the owner asking if he were interested in hiring the same person to also cut his fields, just to help keep them under control and in condition. No, he said. He’s a retired dairy farmer, and the idea of paying someone to do basic tractor work probably didn’t sit well with him.

I’ll get out there in the next few weeks and do it myself, he said. And he did. Only, he got his big tractor stuck in the mud wayyyy in the back of the property after only mowing a small portion of the pasture. Another week went by before he was able to get a bulldozer out there to pull it out. Then he seemed to scrap the idea of trying to keep the place cut. We try to get over there and mow the basic roadways to keep the property accessible. But for now, the rest is fallow. After we get the barn built and have ample hay storage, I may offer to rent that land and cut all the hay off if it. Then I’d have enough acreage to lure a good hay baler to come work for us.

It would be neat if we could bale our own hay. But even used baling equipment costs a few thousand dollars. I’ve always heard it takes a lot of tinkering to keep balers in good working order. If they are at all maladjusted, bales can come out improperly packed or strung, and fall apart when they are handled. And there is the weather factor. Baling hay requires a good string of dry days to cut, rake, bale, and collect hay. If it rains during the process, you have to “ted” the hay to fluff it and let it dry. And repeat as often as necessary before you hit another spell of dry days to bale and stack it. In our climate, sometimes people can ted two or three times if they have bad luck with rain after cutting! And every day the hay sits in the weather un-baled it’s losing nutrient value.

So, it’s not just the expensive equipment, but also the need for an extremely flexible schedule that revolves around the weather forecast, that keeps us from thinking we can cut our own hay right now. So, for now, mowing and wasting the extra grass is what we’re doing. <sigh> I suppose at least its decomposition is offering some fertility to the soil.

The barn swallows sure enjoy the event, as it stirs up lots of insects. One or two dozen always swarm around the tractor, diving and swerving to catch their dinner. They are amazingly agile, like little fighter pilots, fast and accurate. In the top picture, I think I count seven swallows. It’s hard to catch them in a frame, they are so quick! I took several dozen pictures, and some of them have no birds in them at all, despite my being surrounded by them. In the below picture, look how close this guy is skimming to the fence wire.

Swallow1

They don’t sit still much. Every now and then, a few will light on the fence for a moment’s break, but they are quick to get back in the air. I love it when they sit for a spell, they are so tiny and cute.

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