One thing that farming teaches you is to plan for the future. So while many are soaking up the summer sun, we are busying ourselves like squirrels, for the winter months.

Of feed matters especially with livestock, one of the most over-looked and often misunderstood nutritional requirements is roughage. It comes in many, and sometimes colourful, forms and without going into the details of each source or quality scores that it may have, what is fairly simple to understand is that if you make hay and let it bleach in the sun and rain, the quality of your end-product will be what a farmer calls straw. You know, the dry, tasteless light brown coloured material that’s only value is making thatch for homes. So back to the beginning, make hay while the sun shines and this is why this saying has stood the test of time.

We at Summerhill pride ourselves in producing the feed hay component of the horse division’s requirements for the year, to this end we try to produce as many top-quality square bales that we can and get this ‘green gold’ (especially in July/August) under cover before nightfall. You don’t want to go to the effort of starting at 05:00 cutting hay and bailing all day, to be undone at night by leaving your bales outside to be rained on.

One of the other points of interest in chasing these quality bales is that we produce our hay under conditions that in agricultural circles are profound. We don’t use the accepted norms for fertilizers, herbicides or cutting times. We use copious amounts of compost on our hay lands and under no circumstances do we use any herbicides. We also don’t cut the accepted 3 cuts’ per season but cut 5 times in order to be cutting the young nutritious grass that we all know has far more value.

Posted by Barry Watson