Hay Hay Hay
Hello Lamb Friends:
We went from a lovely, long spring to this week of hot, hot, hot. It was good while it lasted.
You probably know this but ……. In the spring, the grass starts growing. For those people who live in the suburbs or city, grass is just that green stuff that grows on the ground. It’s nice to walk through with bare feet but it needs to be cut or it grows and grows and grows. There are plenty of young kids who have spent their summers cutting neighbors lawns saving money for their first car. Maybe you were one of them.
To a livestock farmer, grass is so much more than just green strands of vegetable matter that come out of the earth. Grass is the stuff of life for the animals in the winter season in northern climates where it doesn’t grow all year long. If you talk to your Sheep Farmer Mark, he will tell you about all the different varieties of grass that he seeds and grows in the many acres of hayfields. He’ll tell you the protein content and when it is best to harvest which field. I think you get it by now - he’s a hay nerd.
This week the hay harvest began. Here’s one field after being cut and raked. I love the way it smells - grassy and fresh and clean. I love the visuals too — the way the windrows are all lined up neatly and how they undulate across the field. It’s a beautiful sight and a picture worth painting.
Mark bales the hay with a big old machine on the back of his tractor. It is called what else but a “baler.” Each hay bales weigh 1000 pounds after it is wrapped in the white bale wrap. The bale wrap acts as a shield to air and the hay “pickles” inside it to “ensile.” You’ve probably seen these bales along side the roads in western Mass. Kids call them giant marshmallows.
The hay which is called baleage when wrapped remains very high quality feed which the sheep will eat next winter. The sheep and lambs love, love, love it. Every time we open a bale in the winter, it is like a burst of summer.
That’s your sheep farming lesson of the day. Now what do I recommend you cook this weekend? I’d say it is time for Lamb Koftas with a lovely yogurt sauce in a piece of pita bread or perhaps on top of a nice green salad. Here’s the link to the Lamb Kofta Recipe.
I’ll be at the Amherst Farmers Market tomorrow (Saturday) from 8 to 1:30 on the Amherst Town Common. Mark will be on his tractor baling hay.
See you soon,
Kristin and Mark (from atop his tractor)