Monday, 28 June 2010

We love our hay meadows

According to this story on the BBC today traditional hay meadows are in decline. That's a very sad thing indeed because there is nothing so lovely as a hay meadow in full bloom in June.

We have two hay meadows (pictured above and in my page banner) and I'm impossibly proud of them. They are magnificent fields to visit - the high point (literally) of our farm and of our usual walk around it.

Our current agri-environmental scheme supports our care of them as meadows. The management encourages the proliferation of species of wild flowers and an enormous variety of grasses. We have yellow rattle, a parasitic flower which inhibits grass growth; plantains, which turn black in the hay/haylage and are picked out as delicacies by the sheep; timothy, fescues, bent grasses; buttercups galore, red and white clover and sorrel which puts up pretty red flower spikes in the summer.

Mum was once offered a paltry sum for her 'weedy patch' by a property developer who wanted to buy the empty house next to the hay meadows. He, no doubt, realised he could add those eight acres or so to that nice big house and sell it at an enormous profit as an 'equestrian' property. He was too fool to realise the enormity of his insult both to the 'weedy patch' and my mother's intelligence.

On Sunday it was full of butterflies - meadow browns, gatekeepers and ringlets - and on another recent walk we were nearly mown down by a sparrow hawk.

Managing the two meadows comes with rules: No fertilizer, no harrowing after March (we rarely harrow anyway), the dew pond must be left to regenerate (and we try to remember not to drive the tractor into it!), we cannot mow for hay or haylage before July 15th and the field must remain closed for six weeks in the summer. All this is to protect the flora and fauna in the fields and we respect those rules. Perhaps it wouldn't be economical for a big, intensive farm, but it suits our little enterprise and the ponies and sheep think the resulting winter fodder is great.


  1. Mags, you are one lucky woman to be in possession of your glorious meadows - lovely photos.

  2. Wow, PM, I admire you, your mom, and that meadow.

    A place so beautiful and so appreciated is a true treasure. Bet that your children already realize that.


  3. Mags, that was a great post which speaks so much of your passion for what you do. It is beautiful and you must be so proud. Lucky girls to be learning about how to take care of the environment in such a first-hand way x

  4. Would love to have such hay meadows, even with the "care-full" notes that accompany them.

    The grass on our micro-holding would probably be happier if I just let it grow, while encouraging local wildflowers to spread themselves delicately and happily amongst the grass.

    Good for your mom; good for you, Mags!

  5. Hi Mags,

    Only just discovered your blog thanks to Rob-Bear's link, and how glad I am to have found it. Those meadows look heavenly....just the sort of place to lie back, look at the sky and chew a piece of grass!

    We have a small wild bit at the back of our house, and I can here the constant buzzing of honey bees coming from it! Well done to Mum by the way!!!

  6. Fantastic; so glad you posted this and drew attention to the plight of 'proper' meadows.


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