The summer on Enlli Jo, Steve, Rachel and Ben Porter
One of the interesting and often challenging aspects of farming on Enlli is the variety of seasonal changes, even from year to year. The vagaries of the weather are always keeping us on our toes. This year has been no exception and after a beautiful April with good conditions for lambing, a dry and windy May saw the beginning of a summer of drought. Cristin well stopped flowing over a month earlier than usual, so we were soon reliant on our stored water supply; the extra water tanks that were installed last autumn have made a huge difference.
hopefully enough to see the cows through the winter. We were delighted to have a corncrake visit the hayfields this year, just prior to harvest. The former Observatory warden Peter Roberts, who was staying at Cristin at the time, gave us plenty of tips on corncrake-friendly harvesting methods, as he now lives on Islay where corncrakes have been reintroduced to the island.
Harvest in operation
The arable crops this year, mainly oats and barley, were sown into already dusty soil. Incredibly, an adequate number of haylage bales were still harvested in August –
Borage field from mountain Harvest
Once again areas of barley and oats were left to provide extra cover and forage for autumn visiting birds. Three areas were also sown with sunflowers for this purpose, although the dry conditions affected their growth this year. Many people commented on the borage sown in Cae Dan y Weirglodd which stood out as a blue square amongst the patchwork of green fields. Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual herb, growing to a height of 2-3 feet with bright blue flowers. It is renowned as a favourite foraging plant of bees and is increasingly being cultivated for this purpose, as well as for its culinary uses and as a green manure. We hope that this year’s honey harvest will have benefitted and we await to see what difference it makes to the already unique flavour of Enlli honey.
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