Well can you believe that it is the end of June already and the Summer is flying by? One of the more interesting things that happens this time of year on the farm is cutting and baling of the hay (see photo).
We have a cattle rancher next door who harvests and buys our hay and he put up 108 five foot diameter round bales yesterday in our fields. The harvested hay is a pretty sight and production was good as well as quality in this unusually wet year. We cut hay only once a year in late June to give the birds and animals living in the grasslands a respite from the chopper, and to allow recovery of the grasslands to re-grow a warm season crop which will sustain the wild critters through the Fall and Winter with food and cover Some species such as meadowlarks will re-nest in the rapidly re-growing fields. We hope that others will have completed nesting. One thing is certain- without periodic cutting this grassland would quickly become forest again. Forest succession can only be stopped or delayed by cutting, which favors grass growth over that of shrubs and trees.
Remember that this land was originally a dense hardwood forest before Europeans arrived on the scene and cleared it. It is hard to imagine the immense labor necessary to clear the forest with their primitive tools. Indeed one also wonders how some of our favorite grassland and forest gap species (such as my wife’s favorite- grasshopper sparrows) managed to survive with sustainable populations under those original natural conditions.
Bill Dunson, Englewood, FL & Galax, VA