July 2nd. Haymaking time – the Wrong Time to Marry

Hayricks Photo by Roman Synkevych 🇺🇦 on Unsplash

‘They that wive twixt sickle and scythe shall never thrive’

The time between Haymaking and the corn harvest was such a busy period, that it was considered a bad time to marry. Haymaking was done by hand with a sickle, these were swung at an angle to cut the grass, and made easier if a good rhyme could be set up. The first man would step out in to the meadow but the next man had to leave a little gap to ensure he was safe from the swinging sickle.

Apparently, the song ‘One Man went to mow, went to move a meadow’ gives the right gap, the second man would come in with the next line ‘Two Men went to mow, went to move a meadow’ and so on. Once cut, the grass needed to be dried out in the fields, and turned every so often with a pitchfork. Once dried, it was taken to the farmyard and the hay built into a hayrick. The rick typically had a thatched roof. The hay, normally made of a mixture of grasses, was cut off from the rick by a hay knife to fed to animals in the winter.

Experiments at Rothamsted Park Grass, in Hertfordshire, has allowed scientists to study the effects of annual hay cutting since 1860 (the oldest field experiment in the world). The counterintuitive result is the discovery that when fertiliser was evenly applied, the number of plant species decline from forty to fewer than five. This is from an interesting article about making your lawn more wildlife friendly.

July Haymaking from the Kalendar of Shepherds 15th Century

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