Sunday, 29 May 2022

Silage making past & present

After three days of hard work the first cut silage is now safely in and shrouded in it's plastic counterpane held down by hundreds of tyres (the photo below shows the clamp at the beginning of putting the tyres on) many tyres are to compress it over the next few months before the winter comes and the cows are in. So much preparation and anxiety goes into these three days and there will be at least two more sessions of the same as the summer progresses. We are at the mercy of the weather over which we have no control so when each cut is safely in the deep sighs of relief are palpable. In years past we used to have contractors come in to 'do the silage' with the Farmer and in those days they would stop for lunch and come into my kitchen for a full sit-down meal washed down with copious quantities of tea. These mealtimes were very cheerful affairs with the men discussing the progress of the harvest, gossiping and recollecting stories of the local characters and generally having a good social time. Much of the conversation would be conducted in Welsh interspersed with some fine Anglo-Saxon profanities accompanied by a slight apology to me as the only female in the room. We were one of the last farms in the area where the men got fed and they were always very appreciative with a particular fondness for home-made bread and fruitcake. After a mid afternoon break for tea & cake which I would take out to the silage pit in a large basket filled with thermos flasks and Tupperware boxes, everyone would sit on the grass for ten minutes of refreshment, again full of chat before continueing with the relays of grass-laden trailers. As they often worked on into the night, sometimes not finishing until 2 or 3 in the morning, I would leave a pile of sandwiches and the ubiquitous fruit-cake and, now I remember, ginger beer which they all loved, on the kitchen table while I went to bed. Nowadays there is no time for meal-breaks and so the social aspect of this time of year has largely disppeared which is very sad.

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