We’d been here a week or so, when a local dairy farmer who owns much of the valley behind us, dropped in to introduce himself. He seems a real character and offered to cut the fields for us later in the summer. We promptly took him up on his offer and although this obviously does us a favour as we don’t have the right machinery to mow fifteen acres, it also does him a favour as he gains the hay for his cattle. Like an old fashioned barter system, which I like.
He was intrigued to know what we were going to do with the land ; keep horses?, or cattle? Or even farm it? He found it really hard to get his head round the fact that we didn’t want to do anything with it. Just enjoy it. Play on it. Clearly for a man that makes a living from the land this was a hard concept to grasp.
But play on it we have. The first few weeks we were here, the grass was short and all three fields were wide open spaces, lush and green. Footballs were kicked about and frisbees thrown and caught. The aerobie , which we were looking forward to being able to launch without fear of losing over the fence, was promptly lost to a neighbouring field as it caught a rogue air current .
By June, the grass had grown so much that Stu was able to mow a series of ‘paths’ across the fields. These have given the girls hours of fun as they’ve explored the maze of routes through the long grass. For Saffie especially it must’ve felt like venturing through a forest as the grass towered above her on either side.
Maddie and her friends have spent hours running along the paths chasing butterflies and both girls have loved riding their bikes along the winding green roads. And although the vibrant green has faded and the lushness has given way to an almost feather-like quality, we’ve all marveled at the myriad of different grasses, flowers and butterflies we’ve seen.
But last week, it was all change again. Farmer David and his friend arrived early on Monday morning with tractors roaring and began to harvest the grass.
It was exciting, noisy and dusty. Saffie had a fabulous day. We sat up on the balcony of the play house to get a good view over the hilly field, and she let me know each time a different tractor came into view, and waved as they roared past.
We both marveled at the baling machine, that turned the long piles of cut grass into neat, circular bales. And she giggled as the forklift-type machine stabbed the bales, like you stab an olive with a cocktail stick, and moved them onto the back of a trailer.
When Maddie got home from school we surveyed the day’s work, and I couldn’t help but make the comparison to Monet’s “Haystacks” series of paintings as we walked across the fields in the evening sun.
Our new landscape will take a little getting used to; the short grass looks parched and yellow and the lack of rain means that the ground is hard and dusty. I’m not sure that I like it. But I guess this is the cycle of life in action. Farmer David acquired seventythree bales of hay for his cattle, and I need to remember that by easter next year we’ll be looking out over lush, green fields once again.