The summer is over, harvest coming to its end and autumn most definitely creeping in. As the guelder rose leaves flush to scarlet and burgundy, and the silver birch pale to yellow, the meadow has been transformed – from a thick brown tangle of seedheads to fresh stubble.
All the main areas we have planned to cut have now been cut. This includes the wildflower meadows and specific sections of grassland. There are short stretches of ruderal and tussock margin around the edges of the field which will be cut back to allow space for regeneration and fresh growth next year, and most of the woodland burial areas will be tidied up with another strim before winter. But otherwise we are done. It feels tidy and clear. The summer was wonderful, but there is a relief too in feeling its heavy growth lift and go.
A quick thank you to the sturdy volunteers who came – at very short notice – to rake the last of the hay off the wildflower meadows before this rain set in on Sunday. That was hugely appreciated!
If Sun Rising were a part of a mixed farming concern, all the grassland would have been cut back in July, producing a crop of hay or haylage that would have been fed to livestock through the winter. At the latest, the wildflower meadow could have been left until mid August: at that point, what we cut would have been of some value to horses, or (the extra chewy bits) donkeys. In previous years we have taken bales up to Redwings Horse Rescue Centre.
This year, however, we made a decision not to cut until September: we wanted to ensure the maximum seedfall. It means that what we have cut is too thin and dry to be fodder. A good deal of it we are composting onsite: it’s an experiment, to see if we might create a larger amount of compost than we do from tribute flowers in the compost bins. We’ll let you know how it gets on. You can certainly see the heap steaming on a cool day!