With summer’s end comes the final hay cutting of the year. And in a year of so much noise and strife, local farmers and landowners throughout the South have been blessed by Mother Nature’s quiet gift of constant rains, which nourished the fields and grew the grass. Hay yields everywhere this year are breaking records. On our own little farm, the yield was 125 square bales and (because we had to get the grass up quickly before more rain came) 60+ giant round bales — for a total equivalent of 1,086 square bales! That’s the biggest haul in 11 years here, and it will feed a lot of cows and horses…and probably a few goats.
There’s something remarkably satisfying about feeding one’s animals with the grasses grown on the lands they stand on. The taste is familiar, their bodies eagerly accept the nutrients and roughage, and barns stand full and ready to feed in the cold months when no fresh grass is available.
We are so thankful for the friends who help us bale our hay. It’s never without challenges, that’s for sure, and we all learn new things each and every year. Without their perseverance and support (+ large equipment!) we’d be left with no choice but to bushhog the fields…then all that beautiful grass would just go to waste. And I don’t think we could sleep at night knowing we gave up the chance to keep more animals healthy, happy and fed.
Our friend Marleah and her pal Patrice started a podcast. And the second we heard the subject matter, we were in! If you love good storytelling and are looking for a funky, uniquely Southern hub that talks about some of our region’s own “stranger things,” then The Strange South Podcast is for you. One fan called it “a haunted chicken coop for your soul.”
On Christmas Eve, a magical night in which animals have been known to speak, beloved author Richard Adams slipped peacefully away from us and on to his next life…presumably one filled with rabbits. Through the incredible kindness of his friend and Watership Down illustrator Aldo Galli, we met Mr. Adams last year and had a wonderful afternoon of tea and conversation with Richard and his wife, Elizabeth, at their family home in Whitchurch. It was one of the most memorable days of my life, a day that also included a memorable hike up to Watership Down and time spent with our dear friend Aldo. (You can see more photos of these past trips here and here.) Over 40 years and 50 million readers later, Watership Down has become one of the most cherished adventure stories of all time–and has been made into a new BBC animated film to air on Netflix this coming year. In 1975, in The New York Review of Books, critic Alison Lurie shares her thoughts on why the novel remains timeless: The book “became an international best seller not just because it was well written and original. It was attractive also because it celebrated qualities many serious novelists are currently afraid or embarrassed to write about… What a relief to read of characters who have honor and courage and dignity, who will risk their lives for others, whose love for their families and friends and community is enduring and effective…”
Godspeed, Richard Adams. Thank you for sharing with the “whole world” your tale of faith, courage and triumph. We can just picture you now–standing atop your beloved Down, gazing out over the English countryside…forever standing watch for your old friends.
“Dandelion, get down!” [Hazel] said. “”Why are you sitting up there?”
“Because I can see,” replied Dandelion, with a kind of excited joy. “Come and look! You can see the whole world.”