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The Shimmering Fields

This year haymaking has not been as stressful as last year. And again. That’s because (oh joy) there has been some spectacularly fine weather. Having a summer at last has lifted everyone’s spirits and has also come just in time for those running holiday places. After four rubbish summers the tourists are making a come back.

It’s quite hard to find people who still do small bales – and have the machinery which will fit into our old style gateways. But after scanning the horizon with binoculars last summer we spotted a young guy doing just that. A short car drive, a tramp across a field and a conversation, then lo, our fields were cut that evening. This year he did everything…cutting, turning, baling…which made it simpler than rounding up the bevy of faithful neighbours who have always helped us out in the past.

It was achingly hot. The air was buzzing and the sky intense. The cows took shelter in their shed under the oak. I could feel the burn on my skin.

First the Cut

Hay Field being Cut

P drives the tractor

Cut Hay Field

Very Neat


Turning Comes Next

The cut grass is turned until it is dry, over a period of three to four days. It is usually turned once a day.

Tractor in Gateway

A Bit of a Squeeze

Tractor in Gateway

Just about fitted into Triangle Field

Turning Hay www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comTurning Hay

Curious Traditional English Herefords

What is going on?


Next comes rowing and baling. The turned hay is put into rows and then the baler comes along and sweeps it all up into it’s belly and the bales come out like sausages.

I never tire of this process.

Hay Baling www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comHay Baling

Traditional English Hereford in Hay Field

Are you lost?

Tractor Rowing

The Rowing Tractor driven by C

Hay Baler

Baler Swallows Grass

Hay Field

VERY Satisfying


Time to Collect the Bales.

We made 280 bales from the Triangle Field and half the Cow Field. I would like to point out here that I was not always swanning about with my camera!Β  Heaving was done. One evening our friends R & A (thanks!) came over at 8.30 and we got 100 in the shed before dark. 60 went to our neighbours A & P and the rest to our friends T & N. We still have one field to do.

Hay Bales

Collecting Hay Bales

Look at that sky…virtually unheard of

Collecting Haybales

S on top of the trailer – her first job as intern!


One More Field to Go

Hay Field

Path through long grass

I will miss this shimmering field when she’s gone


Oh, and this is the green/brown roof on the barn today – I’ve already tweeted this I was so excited by the bees.

brown roof

35 Comments Post a comment
  1. there is nothing quite like a shimmering field. it’s an English thing I love.

    July 27, 2013
    • Have you seen the film Quartet? I think that captures the shimmering thing quite well…English summer makes me feel nostalgic. I wonder if other countries shimmering fields have a different feel?!

      July 29, 2013
  2. mmw #

    ooohh arrrh they look good, them bales

    July 27, 2013
  3. wonderful, I can smell the hay from here (I think thats what your lost cow is doing, with a connoisseurs nose off course)

    July 27, 2013
    • Off course sums it up plot52 πŸ™‚ She got curious and then got alarmed when she realised she was separated from the others…very sweet.

      The hay does smell wonderful. I sometimes just go in the barn and stand there sniffing it! Ah, the simple pleasures.

      July 29, 2013
  4. Rhonda Crowe #

    Ahhh….nothing better than the smell of fresh hay bales! Brings back such good memories of long, hot days of throwing hay (with a midday feast for the hay hands and cold watermelon and iced tea at dark:) Precious picture of one of the ladies standing in the hay rows – she’ll surely enjoy the fruits of your labor this winter! (Good to see that the small bales are still being used – there’s something so satisfying about cutting the twine and peeling off squares to put in the troughs while the cows are lined up in anticipation πŸ™‚

    July 27, 2013
    • Like you I have fond memories of haymaking in my childhood. Not on our own land but the farmers field next door – it seemed to be hot every year back then. Your cold watermelon and iced tea sounds delicious….it would have been incredibly exotic for us back then πŸ˜‰ a cup of tea and bread and cheese would have been more likely! I really enjoyed feeding the cows last winter and the hay really smells of summer.

      July 29, 2013
  5. Such a beautiful post! I enjoyed all of the images depicting the process. So glad you are enjoying such nice weather.

    July 27, 2013
    • Thanks Lemony, it has been unusually balmy…there has been a fair amount of incredulity. πŸ™‚

      July 30, 2013
  6. the blue is magic, and I can tell the feeling of having got the job done that too feels like magic. Hard work too! The shimmering field shot is stunning

    July 27, 2013
    • It’s not often we see a sky as intense as that is it? Bet you got thirsty on the allotment! It is incredibly satisfying getting the hay in…cue proud ogling in the barn πŸ™‚

      July 30, 2013
  7. This looks like such satisfying work. So many tractors. I remember this being done with horses. Nice to see the cows taking an interest. That last photo is gorgeous. Is that on your roof? Amazing!

    July 27, 2013
    • Wow, that would have been a sight. Actually I went on a cycling holiday to Poland in the late 90’s and they were still doing it with horses there, it was very beautiful. I took a little video on my camera and the noise of the tractors is great – old diesel engines running well. The flowers are on a barn roof, which has a mix of crushed concrete and topsoil on top of a waterproof membrane. This year I made some little hillocks with compost and sowed some seeds….et voila! Thanks πŸ™‚

      July 30, 2013
  8. Charlotte #

    So beautiful! Wish it was always like that – missing the scorching sun already…

    July 27, 2013
  9. What beautiful weather you had for the process! And what a delight to see the whole process in photos. It tickled me to see the girls so watchful – perhaps anticipating the tasty treats down the road, when grazing isn’t so possible.

    The roof is gorgeous. Look at those flowers! If I was a bee, I would be right there, buzzing and pollinating and having a whee of a time. I’m sure they’re appreciative, too!

    July 28, 2013
    • Glad you enjoyed the post! Aren’t the girls funny? They make me laugh with their inquisitive yet tentative interest. And they seem to like hay, whatever time of the year! Though it may be to do with association…anything I bring to them they want to eat – even if they wouldn’t touch it on the ground – nettles, thistles, old stale straw, you name it πŸ™‚

      I am very pleased with how the roof turned out…I sowed it back in March into what I call the fried egg garden….because of the shape of the 3 mounds I made with some homemade compost. I’m deadheading like mad now…

      July 30, 2013
  10. Here you are! The perfect song for your shimmering fields!

    July 28, 2013
    • Ah thanks very much, I remember this one. Not only that, I remember more summers like the ones pictured in the video. It’s been sooo long. But if I was still working full time outside I would have been complaining about the heat – poor weather, just can’t seem to satisfy everyone! I’ve had a quick read through of your latest post – I think I would probably expire quietly in a heap in that kind of heat!

      July 30, 2013
  11. Thre must be no finer place on the planet than your 10 acres when the sun is shining like it has been recently!

    July 29, 2013
    • Ah thanks Finn πŸ™‚ Bit worried about the butterflies though – haven’t seen that many this year. Though I saw plenty of meadow browns in the shimmering fields one evening, now that was a beautiful moment!

      July 30, 2013
      • They seem to be well down generally, but it’s amazing what some proper summer can do. I’ve seen more in the last month than I’ve seen in the last 2 years. I hope we can get another year of good weather so they can reconsolidate their numbers .

        July 30, 2013
  12. Ahh making hay while the sun shines πŸ™‚

    July 31, 2013
  13. Jonathan #

    ah that brings memories of doing the baling down in Ropley that be many summers ago. That roof is beeutiful – our bees are nearly done nesting now (3 in the roof).

    August 1, 2013
  14. Anyone would think that you were in Australia with that sky! ;). Love the hay, the fields and especially that green/brown roof. Wish I could buy some of that gorgeous meadow hay from you. Sorry I haven’t replied earlier, we have been chained to our PC for a week rotoscoping over videos for our media studies. Time consuming and a week for 20 seconds of so-so video isn’t my idea of how to spend the very last of my “youth”! πŸ˜‰

    August 2, 2013
    • It was uncannily un English like. But not to worry, back to normal now…torrential rain and stormy clouds today. I thought, Oh I wish it wasn’t like this and then I was outside in it and I actually felt right at home πŸ˜‰

      Rotoscoping sounds like a bit of a trial…maybe you could animate first bite of birthday cake…which by the way I hope is being made for you and you won’t have to be slaving over a hot stove!

      The flowers are amazing. Every morning the poppies come out. I’ve been very assiduous with the deadheading – I knew those years of training would come in handy – can’t see a dead flower head without whipping it off!

      August 2, 2013
      • Lol! I can see you out there at the crack of dawn deadheading furiously ;). I would love to seed the side garden with all kinds of wild flowers but aside from the native lawnmowers (wallabies and possums) the chooks do their level best each day to dig the entire area up so that they can dust bath. Steve is making me a vegan birthday cake. He made me an absolutely gorgeous chocolate and peanut butter bundt last year with amazing vegan chocolate ganache and is going to attempt to up the ante this year by finding something even more luxurious and he is also making me vegan macadamia ice cream! I am a very lucky girl :). We seem to be having common weather. It poured down all day yesterday and if we weren’t living on a steep slope, we would have been flooded! I WISH we had a dam down at the front of the property to collect all of the run-off…maybe one day πŸ™‚

        August 3, 2013
  15. Thank goodness I have the weekend to rest and relax (and get piss drunk) before Monday hits and I am suddenly “old” πŸ˜‰

    August 2, 2013
    • You will be joining an illustrious band of crumblies, we are wise as well as beautiful πŸ˜‰

      Happy Birthday!

      August 2, 2013
      • We women of “a certain age” are to be reckoned with indeed! Aged to perfection and twice as savvy with a healthy dose of reality thrown in. “Run in” to a tee and amazingly able to cope…we must be, we have survived so far haven’t we? ;). Steve was kind enough to remind me that I could officially apply for “Seniors Car Insurance” as of Monday…I think I might just join Earl under the bed with a bottle of Scotch…he likes a tipple…

        August 3, 2013
  16. Do you follow the farmer professor? You’d like him since the two of you sound very much alike and your photography is superb. Pairodox Farm (
    I loved this post. When I lived in North Carolina, I used to see fields like this. Thanks for the post.

    August 5, 2013
    • Ooh I’ll be checking it out soon…though having trouble keeping up with all the ones I follow now! But it sounds like it could go on the list. Of course now we’re waiting for another few days of sun to do our last field…haha it would be sods law if we NEVER SAW THE SUN AGAIN! πŸ™‚

      Glad you like the photos. Thanks very much.

      August 7, 2013

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