Tuesday 12 July 2022

Summer in Swaledale and at Pry House Farm

 Summer in Swaledale and all that goes on at Pry House Farm during the summer.

One of the features of Swaledale that has visitors returning time and time again are our hay meadows

At Pry House Farm we take great pride in our traditional hay meadows which produce some of the finest hay imaginable.  These fields of gold are exactly that to upland farmers.  Once made into hay it becomes an invaluable resource that will sustain our sheep throughout winter and lambing time.

     A baking hot hay day on home field at Pry House Farm

The most important task in summer for farmers everywhere is gathering in the crops and that is certainly true in the dales.  It is important that we get our hay when its ready and we judge that by quality and quantity.  The grass has to be long and thick enough to produce a decent crop but not 'old grown'.  The flowers in the meadows have to have gone to seed in order that we get the same flower and herb rich crop year after year after year.  Another vital ingredient to making good hay is summer    sunshine.  We need plenty hot, dry sunny days to be sure  to get all the fields cut, strown, rowed up and baled.  This  year the weather is well and truely on our side.  We have  made and safely gathered in over 3000 small bales with  the rest of the grass being made into good quality round    bale silage.              

But not all our meadow flowers are in the meadows! We have the most beautiful display of meadow flowers and grasses right outside the farmhouse dining / kitchen window.  I have long since given up on trying to cultivate a lawn and instead allowed nature to take its course and wow .... its given us a magnificent show of colour and movement.

Summer is also when our sheep get sheared (or clipped).  The hoggs are clipped first.  Hoggs are young sheep, sheep that are being sheared for the first time.  Shearing hoggs is harder work than shearing the older ewes.  Its a new experience for them and their fleece is generally tighter.

I expect Heidi and Hetty, my Herdwick ewes, will be glad to be rid of their coats in the next day or two.  However even on the hottest of days they don't suffer proving that wool really does keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.

The pet lambs are enjoying being outside in the little field next to the farmhouse.  They have shelter, a plentiful supply of water and supplementary feed to make sure they thrive.


Summer is also about holidays and for those seeking privacy, peace & quiet, space, huge skies, endless scenery then the Shepherd's Hut on home field is dream come true.  Watch the birds, watch the clouds, watch the lambs, watch the hay making action - every visit is different.  The bed & breakfast rooms in the farmhouse have the same wonderful vista with the added bonus of breakfast being made and no washing up to do!

Happy times, happy days!