500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

Making Hay – Summer Solstice


Our life choices are much to the amusement of our friends. We spent eighteen months embedded in a tech startup while living on a farm with no running water.  Our car won’t start when warm, so every time we get petrol we have to push it off the petrol station forecourt, but the house has a fingerprint recognition entry system. Composting toilet &  motion activated LED lighting. Always the contrast between high and low tech.

We’re beginning to find our way among the natural rhythms of the seasons – no mean feat for city dwellers as devices such as this attest:

If the installation above had a schematic representation of the changing length of the days I think it would be almost useful…

We’re very aware of the exact time of sunset throughout the year as this is the strictly observed chicken bedtime. Earlier and it’s a job and a half to persuade them to go in – and they do not co-operate with being cooped up – any later than sunset and you’re in the twilight zone when the fox is the most likely to visit.  Sunrise, on the other hand, is something that we rarely see during summer months – till Solstice time.

It’s now getting to the longest day of the year, so we must cut the hay. To do this properly you must be out in the field before the sun rises so that you can work while the grass is still dewy& firm,  and be out of the heat before midday.  It’s tame for a solstice celebration but it marks the passage of time just as well. There is something really special about being out working at that time in the morning for one sunny week each summer – out in the meadow before five a.m., and to have completed the working day before elevensies.  And of course – it’s great exercise.  Though I wouldn’t want to do it every day.

The hay cut is important because it stops the land becoming overtaken by perennial plants such as nettles as well as small shrubs and bushes. We use the hay for a variety of purposes such as feed for the sheep & goat over the winter, bedding for the hen house,  straw for the eponymous berry, mulch for the veggie beds. It is also a way of building organic matter into the soil to try to increase the quality of our earth. Yes – we could used petrol powered motorised strimmers – but even setting aside the question of renewable energy,  they are horribly loud &  they stink. A beautiful day calls for muscle power & the calming swish of the blade.

We just need a little bit more sunshine to dry out the hay before we can store it away. The next cut will be at Autumn Equinox – the beat continues.


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