Silage and Hay

I’ve enjoyed seeing the meadows being cut on Westray this summer and then being baled and wrapped. The skill of the farmers in driving their tractors in patterns up and down their fields so that they cover every inch of ground while taking into consideration their limited turning circle is immense.

Noup - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

If it’s wrapped in polythene it’s silage. If it’s free to breathe, it’s hay. That’s my understanding, anyway. The most important point is to wrap silage with an air-tight seal so that fungi aren’t able to grow and spoil it. Those mycotoxins can play havoc with a cow’s pregnancy.

Noup - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The sequence of field colours on Westray is:

  • Green – when it grows
  • Dark green and light brown stripes – when it’s cut
  • Light green and light brown stripes – when it’s baled
  • Brown

Brown? That’s because it’s muck-spreading next.

Here’s Lightcost, one of the very few houses on Westray which doesn’t have a view of the sea. It makes up for it with a view of the Loch of Burness. It is surrounded by fields with racetracks of cut grass which look great from this height.

Lightcost and the Loch of Burness - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The bales look like runners in a race. And given the likely change in the weather it could be a race to get it safely in for the winter.

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