An exciting day watching grass grow…

By Alice

Towards the beginning of May it is Mr Whistlebare’s birthday which is traditionally celebrated with cake and an enjoyable outing.  This year however, cake was banned for health reasons (!) and the enjoyable outing was to be attending a ‘Sanfoin Experience’.  For those of you that don’t know Sanfoin is a plant grown in herbal leys for feeding to livestock.  Yes, we were going for a day watching grass grow!  So it was at the end of May we set off to Cotswold Grass Seeds’ experimental farm near Stow on the Wold

Believe it or not we had a great time.  Here at Whistlebare we are constantly striving to improve the health of our livestock and the productivity of the farm through natural biological processes.  There are many ways in which Sanfoin can contribute to these aims.  It is a leguminous plant (nodules on its roots fix nitrogen to the soil), it is rich in condensed tannins (helps control parasitic worms in livestock), it is drought resistant due to its very long tap root, it has a long flowering season so is good for bees and other pollinators, it has high nutritional value as a fodder crop.  As if all this were not enough there is no question the goats and sheep LOVE IT!  

Sanfoin can be tricky to grow and doesn’t yield as highly as some other fodder crops and so it’s popularity declined after WW2.  However, for all the reasons listed above we are very keen to grow Sanfoin at Whistlebare and brought several sacks of seed home with us.  Luckily our soil is very alkaline which is the one pre-requisite for success.  I’ll keep you updated on progress….

My Birthday is in November and my outing is going to include the Isles of Harris and Lewis, accommodation in a wonderful, remote tower and many woolly/textile excursions – oh yes, and cake!

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