The weather has been incredibly hot here in Ireland – no rain for 16 days is almost unheard of. Farmers on dry land (who have been the envy of the rest of us for many years) are finding that what grass they had is just burning off and most are feeding the first cut of silage (which shouldn’t have been touched until next winter) and meal to cows and perhaps silage or hay to the rest of the stock. ?The first cut of silage was this year was down in volume because of the intense cold in March and April which slowed growth. The second cut will be down too – cos of the intense heat. So much for Ireland not having extreme temperatures 😉
We cut our second cut of silage yesterday. ?Partly because we need to get grass growing on those fields again for the stock, partly because growth hasn’t been too bad and we can’t see it getting much better in the next fortnight. Thunder showers have been forecast but are more likely to be near the coast. ?We’ve managed without doing a second cut for the last few years but with all silos completely empty after the ‘long winter’, we had no choice this year- all 5 silos need to be filled and we’ve also been taking paddocks out (where the growth was good and surpassing demand) and making silage bales.
The contractors have a rear and front mower on the tractor. There’s a very handy implement that tilts the sward cut from the rear mower onto the sward cut by the front mower – these means there are two swards in one and makes it quicker for the harvester picking it up.
The contractors had a breakdown around 6pm yesterday which meant everything stopped for a couple of hours and resumed again at 9pm. It was a slow day, one mower went out of action so they worked with one for ?a while and then it gave up the ghost I think. They were down on men for drawing in and then the breakdown, it seemed to be a bitty day for them. But they finished around midnight and the driest grass for years was harvested for next winter.
I’ve never spent such little time in the kitchen on a silage-making day – I think it was because of the heat and I just decided I was minimising the amount of heat from the oven so I just cut down on absolutely everything. Plus, they departed because of the breakdown before tea and when they came back at 9pm, I just presumed that they had got something to eat. I wasn’t going to ask them just in case they said ‘no’ and that delayed working by another half an hour – we were thinking of the dew on the grass! ?I’d usually make sandwiches for their supper but I decided they could make them themselves or have a plate of salad so the table was laden with a ‘high tea’ for them at midnight that would make Enid Blyton proud! All was missing was the ginger beer!
This recipe is for my mum’s scones and they really are her signature dish – she makes them for every school /parish /visitor and everyone always loves them. I made a huge batch of them yesterday for the silage men and loads were eaten last night. ?Kate loves plain ones and I love the fruit ones.
1 lb plain flour
3 oz margarine or butter
2 teaspoons bextartar
3 oz sugar
1 teaspoon bread soda
4 oz sultanas/raisins if making fruit scones
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and mix it in with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs. (add fruit now if using) ?Add the egg and gradually add the buttermilk mixing it with a broad knife until it is all combined and sticks together. Using your hands, use the mound of scone mixture to pick up any mixture from the edge of the bowl.
Turn onto a floured board and flatten out so it is about an inch deep. Cut into rounds. I like to brush milk on the top and shake on a little sugar (makes it glisten). Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.
Scrumptious served with butter and jam or jam and clotted cream.
More Recipes as Rewards
I’m creating an ebook of my favourite recipes as an extra reward in my crowdfunding campaign. As a reader of this blog, you will know that I don’t tend to write about recipes that often, partly because it has to be extra special to warrant it as I prefer writing about farming and other issues and partly because there’s so many fabulous food blogs out there. However, my favourite and best recipes will be included in this ebook. It will also include my recipe for Biscuit Cake which is as closely guarded as a state secret – partly because everyone loves it and I want to be the only one bringing it to a parish/school event (and it is very easy and quick to make) and partly because I’ve always put in some ingredients ‘by eye’ and have never got around to measure them! But I will – for the ebook! I can promise it will not be reproduced on this blog for at least 18 months! ?If you want to be the envy of all your neighbours and the most popular baker around – you need this recipe! I can promise, it works for me 🙂
All pledgers who pledge ?25 or over will receive a copy of the ebook by email complete with photos and method for my favourite six recipes in addition to the rewards there in the ‘Would You Marry A Farmer’ project.
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Measure of buttermilk?
oh, gosh, I never measure it but will do – next time I make it. It kinda depends on the size of the egg, and the size of the breadcrumby mixture though. The end mixture should be moist enough to combine together but not wet and sticky.
M T McGuire
Silage and scones has to be about the best name for a blog post I’ve ever seen. Scones look yummy, too. I’ve never heard of bextartar… I think it may be called something different where I’m from.
I was thinking that as I wrote it up – I’ll have to find out what it is called in the UK and US for the ebook if I include this recipe 🙂
M T McGuire
I might know someone who’d know. I’ll ask… 😉
M T McGuire
I might know someone who’ll know. I’ll ask.
Brill, thank you 🙂
Thanks for sharing this post about silage I am not real familiar with the process, It looks like you cut it like you would hay but then you don’t let it dry much in the field and you want to get it in your silo’s kinda wet where it don’t get much air so it ferments, is that correct? Now does it hurt it much just putting it loose in the covered barn like you have at the top of your post? I am asking because I am thinking that maybe this is the way to go for my farm using silage instead of hay.
Sorry to hear you are getting record heat and dry weather as we are here in Illinois and Iowa, With global warming happening it seems we are getting most of our rain just in the spring and then drought the rest of the summer instead of the rain being spread out through out the year.
You guys had some drought last year! At least with dry weather here, the cattle can be out rather than being cooped up in sheds. I’ll take photos tomorrow of us covering the silage so you can see.
Normally we would cut the silage grass one day and bring it in the next – just to let it ‘wilt’ a bit and get rid of excess moisture which enables the preserving and increases the dry matter of the food but with it being so dry this year, we just brought it in the same day. It does stay kinda moist thought. It’s a nightmare if it does go in very wet though – too much silage effluent coming off it plus the quality just isn’t as good in terms of feed value. It’s compressed down in the pit by driving over it with the big Volvo (which also spreads the loads of silage around) and then it’s covered with 2 layers of black plastic and typres. During this year’s ‘long winter’ we fed silage that was 6 years old and it was fine.
Do you normally make hay?
Thanks Lorna for explaining the process in more detail. To answer your question, no I have not done any haying yet. I live in the city of Chicago and I own 40 acres farm in the state of Iowa in the US. I plan to start farming when I retire from my current job as a conductor for a commuter railroad. The bottom ground where I would be cutting hay from floods once or twice in the spring and it would be hard to get 3 days straight of dry weather to let my hay dry out enough so I could bale it. I am thinking now after reading your post that making silage might be the way to go.
The weather here in the Midwest was very cool and wet, but once July started it has now turned very hot and dry. It hasn’t rained for 20 something days.
There’s been record amounts of hay made this year here – it’s a long time since we last made hay but it can take up to a week depending on temperatures / sunshine if I remember correctly. If it is smallish amounts, many farmers here bale and wrap silage for the winter.
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