This summer has been really challenging for farmers and land managers due to the weather being so changeable. We have managed to cut, dry (after turning it 4 times instead of the usual 2) and bale Ropewalk and Wilderness Meadows and have now started on Crackshall (see picture) but more rain is forecast for later. By investing in our own baler we can be more flexible and cut the hay a few fields at a time but it’s still a struggle. Hay with more than 20% moisture can heat up quickly when baled and spoil or spontaneously combust so it’s important to get it as dry as possible. The added problems at the moment are heavy almost autumnal dew every morning which rewets the hay and the very humid overcast conditions which are not good for drying. Another challenge is that the quality of the hay starts to drop from now on, and we don’t want to cut the hay too late on fields we need for winter sheep grazing! What hay makers need is hot sunny and breezy conditions, but none are forecast for the next few weeks. As with every job we do it is all part of the complexity and we have to do our best and constantly change our plans and be flexible. We are grateful to our many Trust contractors who work with us so patiently to make this all happen.

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