Don’t cast a clout ’til the May is out!
With May blossom adorning the hedgerows and the return of swifts and swallows, Spring is now well established in Pembrokeshire. Daily temperatures of 15C are usual , but in 2017 we had a mini heatwave towards the end of the month and in the field, every day brings new plants to enjoy.
The hedgerows meet over the stiles and almost touch in the narrow lanes – cow parsley in abundance along with elderflower blossom, campion and the first foxgloves. The bluebells and wild garlic mingle with nettles and dock leaves that seem to grow overnight to incredible heights. Ferns unfurl right before your eyes if you can take the time to watch – this is called ‘circinate venation’. In the field, the grass by the start of May, was almost waist high and Cwtch the Collie struggled to run through, but the first silage cut changed the field completely.
The grass is cut, threshed and then packed away once partially dry – nowadays usually in polythene -wrapped bales – to provide vital food for ruminants later in the year – a good yield can give as much as 6-18 tonnes per hectare. More spraying of fertiliser and muck-spreading keeps the farmers busy and the good weather has been a bonus . The crop in the neighbouring field has finally started to look impressive and is a glorious sight as it waves in the spring breezes.
Pembrokeshire’s unspoilt natural environment allows a profusion of plants, birds and insects and May is a good time to spot the first dragon and damselflies , to see the fleeting mayflies on a warm day and to look our for early butterflies. The meadow brown butterflies are already busy in the field edges and to see them is a delight – another Springtime treat is to hear the cuckoo and to feel the bats flit overhead as dusk falls.
By the end of the month all the trees are in full leaf – the oak and then the ash are last – the field is now completely transformed and all around, below and above is lush foliage : green and fresh.