At last, we have a bit of summer at Dam Mire Wood and the rest of Lakeland. The noises of the suddenly quite large lambs are being drowned out by the hum of tractors as those farmers not in an environmental agreement and being paid to cut their hay late for the flowers to seed, are out in force hay timing. 

Some are making silage, some haylage (half way between silage and hay), and the odd one old fashioned hay. Grass growth has been high with all the rain, so farmers are keen to build up their stocks again after the disaster of last year with no hay timing til September.

Equally keen are the kids to get out and help. Hay timing is just the best and favourite time for kids to ‘help’, not just to watch the machinery, but help row up the hay by hand if bits have been missed, and to get a ride on the bales going back to the barn. It’s a far cry from a few decades ago when half the valley turned out to help get in the hay. Women would rake it into rows and then, whilst the bales were being made and shifted by the men, they prepared sumptuous feasts for all those there to enjoy when the job was done. That still occasionally goes on, neighbours helping neighbours, but modern machinery means it can almost be done single handedly now, but some of the community spirit has been lost in the process.

Over at Dam Mire there was lots of community spirit as we did our own version of hay timing, and enjoyed some of the notorious Friends of the Lake District cakes on offer. We welcomed lots of new people, some on ‘give a day back volunteering days’. We strimmed the paths and got most of the remaining spiral guards off the trees. All the rain in spring has had a huge impact on the trees which have put on so much growth and are looking really healthy. Indeed it was often a job to find the smaller trees to check the guards.

The willow den has grown amazingly too. It was put in with the help of Threlkeld School children on a horrid wet January day. It is now developing its Mohican haircut nicely, and one job was to weave the new growth into the structure. At some point we will have to work out just how to reach the top when it is haircut time….answers on a postcard please….

Join us next week on the Helm :