As midsummer approached, our hay meadows were rich with diverse grasses and wildflowers.

The Sweet Vernal grass has been casting its vanilla-almond scent across the fields in the evening air since the spring.

After lambing at the end of May, we moved our Gotland flock out of their usual field to allow the grass to grow for hay. This is beneficial for the sheep too; they leave the ground where they have spent the winter for fresh pasture, where there is a lower worm load in the soil, protecting the more susceptible lambs.

The grass grows quickly with the sun’s energy and, mercifully, this June’s rain. Last year, the hay harvest was very low after the hot, dry spring and summer. We will cut the hay in July, after the grass and wildflowers have set their seed for next year. After a couple of days drying in the sun, it will be baled up and stored in the barn, ready to provide extra energy to our overwintering lambs and pregnant ewes come the winter, when the grass barely grows and has lower nutritional value in the short, cold days.

As we open up the bales after hefting them over the muddy fields, the hot scent of the Sweet Vernal grass will be released once more, reminding us of those heady days of summer and providing us, as well as the sheep, with energy to see us through the distant, dark days of winter.

Mariel looks after Romy’s flock of Gotland sheep, with the help and advice of Jake Hancock, our grazier. A background in ecology and conservation means that promoting biodiversity is high on her agenda.