Saturday, 30 April 2016

Greener Grass

The grass is greener. Forget the other side of the fence thing, my grass is greener. Or greener than it was last week, and showing hints of growing.
Before we moved to Cornwall, I wouldn't have cared, if I had even noticed, but the state of the grass matters here. I know us Brits are supposed to always talk about the weather, but around here, at this time of year, it goes something like:
Nice bit of sun today. So far, so normal. The grass isn't growing yet. And that really is normal here, and probably any other rural area.
We moved here from Berkshire, a rural(ish) location only a five minute drive from the motorway. We had a large(ish) garden, large enough that we confused estate agents when we were house hunting. In estate agent speak, large garden meant move more than three paces before walking into a fence. Apparently what we were looking for was acreage. We ended up with less than a fifth of an acre, so really just the large garden we told them we wanted – but it still counted as acreage.
Now we really do have acreage. Double-digits worth of acreage, with grass growing on it, sheep eating the grass, and our own involvement in the seasonal conversation. The grass is greener now the weather is picking up...
Grass is important here. Grass is a major part of the livelihood for a lot of people in a rural, farming area. At the end of a slow, lingering winter, with spring yet to get really serious and hay supplies dwindling (or completely gone in our case) the livestock need something to eat. Whether the grass is growing, whether the colour is green or yellow, whether it might pick up this week, or whether there's enough there to turn livestock out... its all part of the routine of conversation because it matters.
Later in the year it will still about about grass and weather. Yes, there will be debates on how well this years lambs came out or how the price of calves is doing, but the big one will be grass and weather. Is is too wet so the grass is struggling, or too dry so the grass won't grow? Will there be a long enough break in the rain to cut for hay, or will the sun bake the grass so dry before cutting that the hay is barely worth having.
Even after that, the grass/weather combo goes on. Given a perfect and hot haymaking, those of us who still use square bales will be rejoicing at how light they are. If you are stacking hundreds of bales, by hand, heavy ones versus light ones make a huge difference to how long you can keep going. Or if the weather has been wet, then people are talking about how they had to do haylage this year – those huge, cylindrical, plastic-wrapped jobs – because there was no way to get the grass to dry properly.
Grass and weather, two of the biggest topics of conversation. You won't believe it, probably won't understand it, unless you have lived in a farming community. Grass and weather, good or bad, the difference between eating or not, making a living or not, keeping going or going under.
So, the good news is that my grass is greener, but it would have been better if it had been greener a few weeks back. But the weather's just not been up to it...
There I go again, and I'm only a hobby farmer...


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