We've started feeding haylage to the animals. Unlike last year, when we let them fend for themselves, living off the residual grass and the fat on their backs, we found ourselves able to make haylage in the summer, all 200 5ft diameter round bales of the stuff - way more than we need this year, so plenty for sale to local horse owners or farmers.

For the uninitiated (which included myself until recently), haylage is grass that's been cut when at its peak in terms of nutritional value, left to dry a little in the sun (more than silage, less than hay - hence the name), and then baled, wrapped tightly in plastic and stacked in a corner of the field or farmyard. The idea is to exclude oxygen and then let the contents "pickle" or ferment, thus preserving the nutritional value as well as allowing the farmer to store the bales outside rather than in a barn. In reality, despite 14 layers of plastic, there's invariably little holes caused by the odd stalk sticking itself through or (for some reason) by mischievous crows who appear to likely nothing better than landing on the top of the bale piles and popping the plastic with their beaks (our guess is that it is maybe like bubble-wrap to us humans, which cries out to be popped between finger and thumb despite there being no rhyme nor reason!).

But although horses don't like the slightly mouldy bits that result from these holes, our cattle and sheep certainly don't. It's quite a sight to behold when the cattle realise that feed is on its way - they come careering across bucking and rearing like the proverbial bronco, and they can barely wait for the plastic to be cleared out of the way before they get stuck in. And it's quite a sight once they do get stuck in - horns get rammed into the bale and shaken around to loosen it up, and often the bale itself ends up being pushed along the field, unrolling in the process. But after a few minutes, it settles down to a happy chomping and within a couple of days, there's just a carpet of left-overs which they seem to prefer to sleep on rather than eat.

On a different note, the cold and clear nights have been leading to some stunning sunrises - see this picture across Hoo's Herd one morning earlier this month.