Our fields are full of hay bales at the moment, which not only looks nice, but also means our animals will have plenty to eat this winter. The hay is very good quality this year. We’d noticed that the grass had grown taller than we could ever remember it being. It’s out-competed the thistles and other nasties through its exuberance, hence its excellence. We estimate there are about 200 bales in our fields, which at 330 kgs each, gives a grand total of 66,000 kgs. Pas mal! We don’t keep all this, just what we need, some 40 bales or so. Even our greedy guys couldn’t gobble any more than that.
We’ll be bringing our bales into the barn soon – well, Chris will. He does the skilled labour using Rusty, the big tractor with newly-fitted front forks. The rest of us will be minding one or other gateway to make sure assorted livestock doesn’t sneak out while the hay’s coming in.
This year’s haymaking chez nous made me wonder how much hay is produced in Creuse as a whole, but I haven’t succeeded in digging out that figure yet. However, I have found pretty much everything else you needed to know about hay but were afraid to ask. It’s here, on this website. If you have a few moments, do have a browse. You’ll find out about France’s population (including the fact that between 1960–1999 fifteen rural départements experienced a decline in population, and the most extreme case of this, at 24%, was our very own Creuse); topography; climate and agro-economic zones; livestock production; pasture as a resource, including different types of grassland and the number of hay harvests per year, and loads of what are actually really interesting, if obscure, facts. There are maps, tables, photos, diagrams, graphs, bar charts of which my favourite is the map showing Regional distribution of the sales of round balers in 2000-2001! I’d often wondered about that!
This document is an absolute goldmine, even though it doesn’t quite answer my initial question! However, I still think Christian Huyghe, who wrote it, deserves a medal. Or perhaps he’d prefer a bale of hay…