Grass-go-round

Its that time of year again:

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when summer grass is stored for winter forage.

In some ways, the farming next to us follows the same simple system it always has

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Sheep and cattle graze the growing grass and then during the summer some fields are allowed to grow so the grass can be cut

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and stored for when the cattle are inside later in the year

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and brought back out to the fields to supplement what the sheep can graze when the temperature drops.

Compared to much agricultural technology these days the machinery used next to us is fairly basic

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However there are two changes to this cycle which have drastically changed the diversity of life in this landscape. The switch from hay to silage with its earlier cut and high level of fertiliser used has greatly reduced the variety of species and habitats.

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In addition, the field next to us was ploughed up a couple of years ago and sown with a commercial grass seed – something that happens to all silage fields every few years – eridicating any native species trying to get a foothold.

So, today the Kites come low

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looking for small mammal casualties and the cattle wait in the wings

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– they will come in to graze the uncut edges and then the mucking out from their winter quarters will be returned to the field.

We have one less Woodpecker tonight, thanks to the Sparrowhawk, although human intervention might have meant it lived to see another day minus some of its feathers.

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Dry for the harvesting but a light dampness a couple of days ago brought out a welcome visitor

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