Happy harvesting hormones

I think that there must be a happy hormone released when I get up early on a bright sunny summer morning and look at out at the meadows beyond my house, where they have just started haymaking. This view, smell, temperature and light combination certainly affects me in a such a positive way.

One of my favourite things about this view and these meadows is the way they are harvested in strips, or rather odd shaped parcels. They are in fact ancient Lammas Meadows along the banks of the River Lugg, which date back to medieval times.

The land is farmed according to commoners' rights through the Autumn and Winter, with local farmers using it for grazing cattle. Then from 2 February (Candlemass), the grass is allowed to grow until Lammas Day, traditionally the 1 August, when weather-permitting, haymaking begins. The meadows are owned in strips marked by dole stones. Each farmer may harvest at slightly different times, allowing a jigsaw puzzle of cut strips to emerge from the long grass, revealing the division of the meadow. Some make rectangular bales, and some round - a difference which for some obscure reason, that no-one else gets, amuses me enormously!

Lammas actually means 'loaf mass' and the day was traditionally celebrated with bread being made from the season's first wheat. The Real Bread Campaign this year has promoted a celebration of bread and lammas listing Local Loaves for Lammas events all over the country. How wonderful it would be to celebrate fresh bread, summer and the harvest at one of the oldest and most important Lammas Meadows in the country.

Anyone want to help for next year? I can already feel the happy harvesting hormones kicking in with the scent of freshly baked bread. Hmmmm.


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