Cold mornings make it hard to get out of bed!
Morning are cold! really cold! and that makes it hard to get out of bed. But when you do manage to slide out from under the duvet (and very quickly get dressed with many layers), it is so worth it! The afternoon weather over the last few days has simply been phenomenal. The sun is shining, the temperature is warm, and a light breeze ruffles through the now autumnal leaves in the trees around. Fern, Hazel and Rose the chickens are very much enjoying the weather and are spending their afternoons basking in the sun. They have become quite tamed now and always come over with a cheery "buuuuck" every time I walk past on the way to my workshop.
So, the BIG event of this week has been the arrival of all my field care equipment! It arrived on Monday; and what a day. I had returned from the UK only the night before, and therefore had nothing ready. I was expecting the delivery late in the day, but at around 15:00 I received a phone call from the driver stating he would be there in around an hour.
"Have you found a telehandler to unload with?" he asked.
"yes, its all sorted" I replied..... That was a lie.... Nothing had indeed been sorted!
The next 45 minutes were spent driving from farm to farm, looking for a farmer with a telehandler. Not one farmer to be found! As a last resort I drove to the Mairie and asked if they new anyone that could help. Luckily, the maire's assistant informed me her neighbour should be able to help, so with just minutes to spare I drove to her neighbour and found a telehandler and a farmer! The farmer did not hesitate one second to offer his help.
When I saw my equipment on the back of the lorry I did not know what to think! it all had been taken to pieces and stacked in the most extraordinary way! Like the most extreme game of Tetris. Unloading with quit interesting, with an English driver communicating his instructions to a French farmer. everything did get unloaded without incident thanks to the farmer's incredible driving and the lorry driver's ability to work out how to untangle his load, and knowing what straps to undo at what time.
The lorry driver was one of the most interesting man I had ever met. at 68, he owned a mill making wooden stables. Lorry driving was just something he did on the side for his young friend at R.D agri services (great company) and also I suspect for fun. After unloading we sat down for a cup of coffee and chatted away. Deciding that it was to late to re-assemble all the equipment that evening, we simply went out to the local services for a steak dinner. As I sat and ate my dinner I listened to his amazing stories from his youth. For example, delivering steel from the UK to Saudi Arabia via lorry. it was a really enjoyable evening that came totally unexpected! After a great dinner we came home and he went to have a sleep in his little lorry. I did offer him my sofa bed, but he insisted that sleeping in his lorry were the best night sleeps he ever had.
The next morning came the difficult task of putting all the machinery back together again (after coffee and a chat of course). For that we needed the little Massey Ferguson and its front loader. Unfortunately the battery was flat. We tried jump starting it the traditional way but with no luck.
"No worries, I have a plan" he said! and with that he proceeded to connect both jump leads to the negative and then placed a crow bar between one battery and the starter motor of the little tractor. I offered him some gloves as I saw sparks but, obviously he said no. Anyways, that little trick worked and the Massey started straight away. We then spent the next couple of hours lifting and manoeuvring parts together to form fully functioning farming implements. I was so glad the driver was there, as his wealth of knowledge and experience really came through.
Once all built, and the driver back on his way to England, I did notice one little problem, we had built everything in the front yard and all the equipment was facing in different directions. What followed was two days of me playing a crazy game of pickup sticks as I tried to work out what implements I could get to first, how to get to it and in what order to pick it all up.... Sorry, I have just had to interrupt my writing as I have just heard the meow of doom. Its a special meow that Annie the cat saves for the times when she has caught a mouse.... Yep she has, there is a mouse in my bedroom.... OK its back out the house. I cant blame her, she is only doing her job as a farm cat. Although I have heard that the reason cats bring you dead things is because they think you are so useless that you cant fend for yourself. Anyways, back to farming implements. Two days later and all the implements are finally in some sort of order and easy to access. It took some ingenuity like stacking bricks and creating pivot points with straps to get everything to face the right way and be at the right height. Not easy when some of the equipment weighs well over a tonne.
I guess that is the end of the blog for today. I apologise for any mistake, but I am drinking the local cider as I write this! Below, if you are interested I have included what those implements are, what they are for and in what order they are going to be used. If you are interested in that kind of thing, please read on:
1) Flail Mower - A special type of mower that pulverizes rather than cut. It will be used first to pulverize the overly long grass, ferns and brambles that have grown over the last few years that the pastures have not be looked after. As an added bonus, the pulp created is left on the ground as a green manure.
2) Harrow - This is like a big solid rake that will remove all the moss and rubbish between the grass, giving the grass room to grow. this will be done a few times after the flail mower. If you have animals, it is also a great way of spreading the cow pats across your field to help fertilise the ground.
3) Roller - This comes next, when grass has been left it tends to grow into little clumps. A pass with the roller will remove these little clumps and return the field to a nice flat state. It is also said that rolling the grass can stimulate its growth.
4) Slitter - The slitter cuts loads of little slits into the grass. It cuts the roots of grass to stimulate growth, it stops water logging, but most of all it reduces compaction of the soil and introduces little air pockets into the ground. This air pocket are essential for good reproduction of bacteria that helps in grass growth.
5) Spread - the final step. The spreader will be used to spread fertiliser to help the grass grow, and in this region will also be used to spread lime. Lime is used on acidic soils to bring up the PH to a more neutral level where grass growths best. Later in the year the spreader will also be used to spread grass seeds in areas where they are bare patches.
6) Mole plough- That equipment has not arrived yet, but is used in spring and autumn to plough up deep beneath the grass to aid with water filtration and also aerate the ground.
And there you go, all the equipment you need for a perfect grassland, and the equipment you can get to play with if you book on one of our weeklong farming experience and courses on our website at www.elevagejolivet.com . See you then!