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Hay Fields Round Hayfield July 6, 2013

Posted by dawnshifter in Uncategorized.
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23/6/13:  the day is starting late in the Kinder River valley: low cloud drifts, lifts, and droops again; rain follows the airstream, trees grown tall searching for more light sway threateningly on roots kept shallow by gritstone bedrock.  Rain bands sweep over: fine and enveloping or hard and heavy, slashing the hay meadows flat.

The High Peak still has some mature hayfields – meadow foxtail, knapweed, yellow rattle, plantains, and vetches all make focus points in the undulant grass seas at this time of year.  Some now lies flattened but uncut, and some cut and mouldering in the rain.  Here and there, some has already been mown and gathered: tram-lined fields show buff, pale and green where farmers are hoping there will be enough summer for regeneration and another cut.

Somehow, the patchy hayfield hillside pattern matches the ewes hereabouts: some shorn, most – because of the late-lasting cold weather – not.  Gobbets of shedding fleece catch the breeze, flying and tumbling and picking up moss until thistles hold them fast.

Meanwhile, the ragged ewes walk on, trails of fleece blowing in their faces, like a vain old man’s comb-over, caught in seabreeze off Blackpool Pier.  Some ewes have moulted a whole flank and a glimpse of scalp-pink skin shows beneath the growing summer coat.

I’ve gathered some of the shed fleece and scoured it in the washing machine.  When we’ve had the best of the summer and indoor pastimes prevail, I’ll have a go at spinning this – either with the spinning wheel we are renovating, or with the drop spindle I’ve been experimenting with here at Farlands.  Small projects call first – I’m currently prototyping some crochet shoulder bags for the new mobile which is too big to fit in a pocket.

I’ve some wool dyes to try but also some lovely dark fleece from a Zwarbles sheep: a Dutch breed with a gold-tipped dark brown/grey coat.  Comes up interestingly tweedy and flecked.  Might even suit (bag-carrying) men.

top whorl spindle

top whorl spindle

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