So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Silage in October?

We’ve had a warm, wet summer, in fact a normal summer. As you know, I love to follow the farming season.

This year, there has been loads of grass, and some fields have been cut three times. I was surprised when farmers cut a couple of weeks ago.

Now we have a bit of sunshine, they’re at it again. Surely there can’t be much nutrition in it? Snow is forecast on Sunday, so there has been much scurrying around with bakers today.

How late do you cut in your part of the world?


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Modern farming!

Today in Tamsweg was the most enormous queue of tractors and trailers. I think every farmer in Lungau was dumping the plastic wrappings and nets from their silage and haylage balls. Where will all this go? Better those who have a silage pit or clamp? Better back to more risky old fashioned hay making?


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Cow Parsley Spring

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One of the effects of this long wet spell, is that the farmers have been unable to get into the fields to cut the first round of silage.  Normally the second two weeks in May means you’re permanently stuck behind a tractor. On the lower levels, all has been ok, but here at about 100o metres its a disaster.

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The grass has gone to seed, and the common Dock or sorrel as I call it, have made a brown haze on the fields, more commonly associated in the UK with derelict land that is full of the larger Dock,which we use to rub out nettle stings.  I’m quite surprised there isn’t more as the slurry is well and truly spread here as soon as the snow goes.

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Likewise, the buttercups are making as good a show as the Dandelions.  Most of all though, is the Cow Parsley. It’s just run rampant.  All of these would have normally been cut back  in the silage by now, but instead our flowering. Some fields I’ve seen are pure white, and there are very few Margarita daisies which make a fantastic show at this time.  So what effect will this have on the silage?  Can it still be made with all these flowers in which I know many animals will not eat?  Will everyone be searching for bailers next week? The rain will also make this long grass lodge, also making it difficult to cut. Poor farmers, they can’t win.

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BUT it makes for great photos, which would be even better if it would stop raining long enough for the flowers to open!

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Hay time

Meadow behind the flat

Gina and I were out riding this week and as we were going through a particularly lovely village, I remarked on how even after three years I can’t believe I live here.  She agreed, having come here from Germany as a child.  Neither of us at present have any wish to return to our roots.

Its hay season here, and many of the fields have been stripped of grass to make what we would call haylage, which is the big plastic covered balls of dried hay. Long gone are the days of the hay huts where the loose hay was put in these small huts which must have been in practically every field in the valley, and all over Austria too.  Now they are falling down – I expect someone will sooner or later start a  hut preservation society.  The hay here  is about 20% grass, the rest is dandelions and any wild flowers that are growing.  This is spectacular, from campion, ragged robin, ox-eye daisies, ringenblumen ( a huge yellow flower) purple bell flowers, and of course dandelions and buttercups the fields are awash with colour.  The mountains are a few weeks behind us here in the valleys.  But what a photographer’s dream!  It just shows   how using chemicals  has ruined Britain’s flora.  There isn’t the warm softness of an English summer’s morning here, because sometimes the vegetation isn’t so luxuriant, but the colours soften the outlook.  The small of the meadow outside our window is indescribably wonderful and seems to encapsulate all the best of living here. One of the things I love at the moment is seeing the cows being taken in the big open trucks, pulled by tractors up into the alms/hills for the summer.  You can see their noses poking over the tops, and they must be so pleased after all the months stuffing their faces in the dark stalls.  

Then when it rains or thunders, you see the darkening clouds away over the mountains and can see the storms building.  When I was teaching riding , from the outdoor school you could see the blackness and hear the distant thunder, and could anticipate you’d soon have to run.  Often before the storms would hit, everything would go still, the temperature drop (and sometimes the pressure making my ears pop) and with a terrific gust of wind the storm would hit.  The kids riding would never mind the lightning, but the rain would have them riding for cover.  Then most lovely, after the storm, as the grounds soak up the moisture, the warmth sets clouds of steam and mist rising from the hills and woods. At times whole woods will disappear, then reappear as silhouettes , then go again.  I never tire of watching this.  And people say there is no God, no chance event could create such beauty, but a mind of unimaginable intelligence, humour, joy and creativity.