Rain falls on our two-day old hay crop resulting in a considerable reduction in its quality.
I thought we were supposed to be having a heat wave?! We do keep forgetting that these claims made by the media and weather forecast only ever apply to London and the south east...
On Sunday we were one of several farms in the area who cut their grass to make hay or haylage for the winter fodder for the animals basing the decision on a weather forecast that was, on the whole, a dry and sunny one. This was the second lot of grass we cut. The previous lot was cut a week or so ago and was made into not bad haylage but it could have been better had the weather forecast been more accurate. Back then, they forecasted a warm dry spell so we thought we would try and make hay... Last Tuesday it rained heavily on the cut grass for about 2 hours in the afternoon.... not quite spoiling it as it had only just been cut. We managed to make relatively good hay out of that.
This sunday, based on the media hype of a heat wave, and the weather forecast of some dry weather, we cut the remainder of our hay meadows in an attempt to get some good hay bales perhaps on Wednesday or Thursday this week. Immediately after cutting, it rained on Sunday... not much so it was OK if no more rain came.
Last night's weather forecast on BBC, metcheck suggested there was a potential risk of a shower this afternoon but gave warm bright sunshine for all this morning.... This morning it has rained since the moment I woke up and is still raining now. Because the grass had a good day of sunshine yesterday, and dried out a little bit, the rain that came this morning has considerably reduced the quality of the hay, so we are all a bit miffed to be honest.
The nature of the weather in the past week or so has been very localised. Skipton could have warm dry sunshine but at home it could be pouring down. In fact, on Sunday, after cutting the grass, we had a BBQ at Tom's house and at their house it remained dry all the time - rumbled a bit - but remained dry. On the way home through Colne it looked like it had a real downpour, with large puddles on the roadside, then suddenly at Earby it looked like it had dried up and back at LWHQ there looked like there had been a bit of rain but nothing to worry about. So we cannot blame the forecasters too much due to the sheer localisation of the weather, but it does not make it any less stressful, knowing we now have to take the grass a lot sooner than anticipated and the quality of the hay is reduced as a result of it being cut, drying out for a day, and then raining on it.
Ideally, a hay crop should have 2 or 3 days (or more if it is a heavy thick crop - ours isn't as it has had no artificial fer'iloiser on it at all) to dry out.... During that time the best drying weather is sunshine and wind. If the grass is still wet (i.e. just been cut) and it rains on it, then it is not too bad. However, if the grass has started to dry out (like our latest lot has done) and it starts to rain on it when it has dried, then for every drying and wetting it gets, its quality is reduced. Which is a shame, and unfortunate!
Anyway, the result is that Howard had decided to take the grass and bale it asap (hopefully this afternoon) - taking what he can and its quality will be reduced but hopefully not toooo bad (we have had worse years where the grass bales have looked brown!!) but there is part of us that just knows, as soon as we get it baled, out will come the sun and there begins the heatwave in the north west!
How this news article is in contrast to last year's haymaking news article!
I think weather forcasters have a lot to anawer to. the best way to work out what weather we are going to get is to look out of the window. I live in Bournemouth and the tourinst office are complaining bitterly about the incorrect forecasting.
It amazes me that with all the technology the BBC weather forecasters have now, that they can get it so wrong. Sorry Dan, that the haymaking hasn't been as successful as it should have been.
If the wind was westerly I could tell you that it has been dry for about three hours. Unfortunately the sky is still very grey - horrid warm and humid conditions for haymaking. Anyway I am sure the sheep will be very grateful for all Howard's hard work come mid-winter.
"as soon as we get it baled, out will come the sun and there begins the heatwave in the north west!"
Hope it turns out okay for you Howard Haying time.
Next time use the old farmers almanac
Dan have you ever spread rock salt on your hay? Do it on top of the bails on each level. It will keep it from rotting, and the sheep will love you for it. Good for wet or damp situations.