The main task on the farm this month has been to take some of this year’s hay from our most established wildflower meadows and spread it over the less established meadows in order to help them develop.
This is as primitive as it sounds but it’s an incredibly effective way of seeding different areas of the meadows that need a bit of help, and we do it over about ten years. We took 110 bales of harvested wildflower hay from the Poor Field and spread them all over the Beckley Bowl, The Bankside and the Dog Field. We use a hay spinner sometimes known as a hay-bob on the back of the tractor – it throws the hay around the fields giving the seed chance to drop and set and we know from experience that it works. You can see from the photograph the rows of brown hay on top of the green grass where this has been done.
We also know that because we have an increasing area of highly diverse meadow, seed is naturally spread by both birds and the wind and that is the most natural way that our meadows are establishing themselves over time. Quite simply – the more you have, the more you get. One exciting plan afoot is to invest in a seed harvester so that we can fine tune our meadow work and harvest the seed from the established meadows in a more sophisticated way. This would also provide us with the opportunity to offer locally provenanced wildflower seed to other landowners in the area looking to create their own meadows too.
For the most part September and October are big planning months on the farm. We’re working out when will be the right time to get more sheep on the meadows to begin the winter grazing regime. We’re also considering which sections of the wood we’ll coppice next, and we’re busy finalising a schedule for traditionally laying some sections hedgerow. We have around 3 kilometres of hedgerow that we’ve planted since beginning our conservation work here along with another kilometre of ancient woodland hedge-bank that we’re restoring. Laying the hedgerows is an important way of maintaining habitats – but more on that when we get to doing it!
So the early Autumn weeks are much more about talking and planning than doing. Obviously the regular work of keeping the guest areas of the farm well maintained continue, but other than that, the flora and fauna are doing their thing untouched.
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