Water at the Trust comes from a spring on the land. The spring is below the main areas of water usage, so is pumped up to storage tanks in the Red Barn using a ram pump.
We store the water in second-hand IBC tanks which were previously used to contain bulk food stuffs eg orange juice concentrate. At the end of this summer we expanded the water storage capacity by adding a second IBC to the loft in the barn. The challenge is getting the tanks up into position, a job much helped this time by the use of a hand chain winch which we had recently been given.
The IBC positioned at the bottom of two ladders with the chain from the winch attached
Boy power is all that is needed to haul the IBC up using a chain winch!
A slightly awkward moment as the IBC is pulled onto the platform
IBC in final position. The chain winch has been dis-attached and can be seen hanging in front.
While researching Welsh scything terms I came across the Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, a wonderful Welsh dictionary run by the University of Wales. Whilst checking on more mundane words such as “haystack” and “scythe” I came across a rich seam of specific historical terms.
Under the word gwair (hay) there were terms not so dissimilar to ones we might use in English eg “gwair doldir – meadow hay”, “gwair mynedd – mountain hay”. But there were also terms such as “gwair bondew – hay growing thick at the base” and “gwair egras – one year old hay”. I hope I won’t be needing “gwair wedi cochi – hay which has been stacked while green and has deteriorated through fermentation (lit. reddened hay).”
The terms referring to different types of hay, such as “gwair maswaidd – soft tender hay, difficult to dry, August hay.”, speak to me of the farmers knowledge of the variability of hay and how the hay making process changes with season and grass varieties. This chimes with our own experiences.
There was a section of words to describe mowing with a scythe. A word I hope we won’t need to use too often is “bonllath – long stubble left after scyther or machine has cut carelessly; the height at which the scythe initially hits the corn” . Or “haffiad – a snatching, a snapping or grabbing; (clumsy) stroke with scythe, &c., a hacking” And is this another scything fault “ gwrychyn arfod – blades of grass left standing between each sweep of the scythe“?
Similarly I wouldn’t want to come across a “durdor” – fault or notch in blade of a new scythe” or suffer from “clwyf y bladur – pain after handling a scythe (lit. scythe disease).”
Of course, many of these words are lost from common usage and many of them may have been highly regional in usage. Still, I find it is interesting to look at the words that people needed to describe the world around them and what that tells me about what that world might have been like.
To finish I’ll leave you with “ffocs – a kind of love-making during the hay harvest” and “ffocsaf – to make love in the hay during harvest“. It obviously wasn’t all work and no play……..
Every autumn we look out for the attractive and highly coloured waxcaps (hygrocybe spp),
spindle and coral fungi on the farm and at our local churchyards. Worth a search but harder to spot are the strange looking earthtounges.
These fungi are strongly associated with old grassland, church yards and lawns and are as distinctive a part of our undisturbed grassland as the wild flowers of the summer
Here is a red hygrocybe species found at the Trust.
Below is the rare and amazing Violet Coral (Clavaria zollingeri) that can be seen at Penboyr Churchyard, a particularly good site for waxcaps and related fungi.
The picture was taken by Isabel Macho a couple of years ago. We haven’t spotted the Violet Coral yet this year but will be back to check frequently. There are plenty of other fungi to be seen in Penboyr church yard at the moment, so if you are local why not pop up and have a look?
The “Cymru” in Scythe Cymru is, of course, the welsh name for Wales.
A month ago I was talking about scything with a reporter from Lingo Newydd, a welsh language bi-monthly magazine for welsh learners. I have been learning Welsh for 5 years now and can hold a pretty passable conversation. However, just as some English words such as “peening” and “windrow” are not in every day usage, it is not every welsh conversation that requires scythe related vocabulary, so I did a bit of revision before the interview. For those with an interest in the welsh language here are a few welsh scythe related terms:
scythe(s) – pladur(iau) (n,f)
to scythe – pladuro
mower(s) – pladurwr(-wyr) (n,m)
blade(s)- llafn(-au) (n,m)
sharp – miniog (adj)
to sharpen – hogi / minio
hammer(s) – morthwyl(-ion) (n,m)
to hammer – morthwylio
lladd gwair – make hay
tas wair – haystack
Note, just as there is regional variation in scythe vocabulary across England it is likely that there is regional variation in Wales too. So don’t be surprised if they say something else where you live!
In autumn the scythe moves from harvesting grass to bracken, a task to which it is well suited. We harvest the bracken both to control it in the fields and to use it as a resource on the farm and garden. These two posts about the 2014 bracken harvest and the 2013 bracken harvest give more detail about how and why we harvest bracken.
This year we will be using the majority of the bracken for animal bedding. This impressive stack was built with the help of a couple of lovely volunteers who have come to us through WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).
What a beautiful week of summer we have just had. Autumn activities were put on hold and we grabbed the opportunity to make hay while the sun shone. The shorter Autumn days meant we were often working out in the fields at sunset, sometimes finishing rowing up in the dark.
Highlights have been early starts on cool, dewy mornings, beautiful red sunsets, children chasing frogs in the windrows, interesting conversation whilst working together and a deep feeling of satisfaction when surveying the full barns.
The late summer weather has not been easy haying weather. If we waited for 4 or 5 days of sunny weather in a row, as is commonly suggested as needed for hay making, we wouldn’t have made much! In fact, there have only been two occasions which might qualify in the last two months, 7th – 10th July and 15th -18th August, and neither of these occasion were wall to wall sunshine. However, this is better then some parts of the country have been doing, so I hear.
Racks and Haycocks
The weather has marginally improved of late and we are taking a second cut from areas we cut / grazed in May and early June. Using all the tricks at our disposal we are dodging the showers and making hay. We are aiming to get as much up on racks as we can manage, then bring it in once it is cured when we get a dry day or two. The grass is often only getting what we consider to be minimal field drying before further showery forecasts force us to rack it.
Rowing up the next batch of hay into fat rows for the night
While we are still hay making, others are using the scythe to harvest grains. SABI member and grower of ancient grains, John Letts featured in this episode of Country File on Sunday, mowing wheat with a scythe.