What to do with all the hay?

All the cut hay and flowers from the meadow-cutting weekend a fortnight ago has been piled in the small fenced-in paddock while we worked out what best to do with it. We could not interest a farmer in taking it for hay back in July because of the possiblity (..probability) that there was some remaining ragwort in it, even after our three days of toil pulling it all up.

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It seemed such a complete shame to pay a contractor to come in to take it away and burn it and so we were very excited when we approached a Waste Company in Sandwich who thought thay would be able to find a home for it with a green composting facility. They came to visit us at the meadows on Friday and looked at what we were asking them to do and – oh dear – because it was cut so late and the meadow plants had gone to seed, they thought that it could not be used for green compost because it would contain the seeds of ‘injurious weeds’ such as creeping thistle which would then be like unexploded bombs in the compost. They were talking of having to deep bury it as a toxic substance. This was bad news indeed and also seemed a little bit ridiculous. However, it seemed we were back to square one with having no idea what to do with all this hay and in the meantime, there is was, all piled up in the paddock – kept low so that it didn’t overheat and spontaneously combust – and presumably now would be crawled into by all sorts of hibernating animals over the next few weeks and if we didnt shift it soon, it would have to stay all winter until they woke up.

We spent the weekend working on the second meadow. It wasnt cut a fortnight ago other than a couple of circuits of the machine round the margins. We’ve been raking this up, bagging it up into Hippo bags and dragging it the really rather uncomfortably long distance to the paddock where the rest of it is that was cut from the first meadow. Also, the Blackthorn in the hedgerows has produced a lot of suckering and these springy suckers generally managed to resist the minstrations of the cutting machine, still standing straight and tall even after we’d directly gone over them. So, we also crawled around on our hands and knees cutting these off with loppers and bagging them up for burning in the newly purchased brazier. It was a tiring weekend

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The second meadow with just the margin cut

However, the good news today is that the Waste Company phoned and it seems they can use our hay for green compost. They have taken advice and been given the green light and are coming on Thursday with a lorry that can drive to the paddock and load it all on with a grabbing hand. Moreover, they are giving us a good discount on the cost of this job since they wish to support our project (..its still quite expensive though….)

I don’t know how the issue of the Creeping Thistle seeds has been resolved but hope to find out more on Thursday.

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