Cutting grass – harvesting direct payments 2014 – Struck by lyme disease

Exactly on summer solstice day I started to feel bad. I spent 3 weeks in bed with 38,5 Celsium every evening, but no other symptoms, my parents got curious and one morning forced me to visit a doctor. Blood tests showed Lyme disease. A year ago also in the end of June I had similar situation that lasted only one week, so I thought it was a sunstroke. But I was wrong. I got bitten by ticks several times within two years, so I guess I got infected two years ago.

That was terrible. I still tried to work, but could only hold on for two hours. But the hay does not wait. It should avoid rain and it takes great time to collect. But I missed it. So this year my sheep are with less hay as well. But I already have 26 sheep compared to 15 last winter. Number will increase.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt least sheep helped me to maintain 1 hectare of land. They ate a lot, but they left straw so I had to walk around a bit and beat it, which was not so hard and I did not have to collect anything.

Government is trying hard against direct payment survivors like me and other types of EU budget eaters, so they introduce harder conditions to receive it. Usually one has to cut grass once a year before august 15. Starting from next year it will be twice with deadlines July 15 and September 30. This is how they are “dealing” with climate change, they double emissions related to grass cutting. I apply 19 hectares of 30 as grasslands and 10 hectares I don’t apply because I don’t have enough means to take care of that land. I think of buying a brushcutter because grass cut for second time is definetly not a hay, so I don’t want to use scythe mower without reason. I don’t have enough animals to trim 20 hectares, so I also think about a bigger mouth like a horse or a cow, but cheap horse is hard to find and milk cow needs a really often care. In other words tough times are coming, not to talk about situation in Ukraine.

This year I decided, that hiring tractor to cut grass for hay is more expensive and less effective as buying and having my own machine, so I bought the cheapest available scythe mower AL-KO BM 870 III. Local shop took 650 EUR for it and gave me 2 years warranty. Internet price is 600 eur, delivery 25 eur, but then it would be difficult to apply warranty. My budget is ~2000 eur per year.


What is good about this machine, is the Briggs and Stratton engine, because it is module – you can take it off and install on some other machine. That’s what I plan to do as soon as I learn how to work with metal. I will make a rotary cultivator specially designed to go not deeper than 5 cm (organic farming border depth in order not to bury aerobe organisms), and will just swap engine from one device to another. I also plan to make another grass mower, that would be cheaper to maintain.

Shop told me, they have oils for this machine, but when I read instruction manuals, I understood, that they don’t even have most suitable engine oil. Instead of Briggs and Stratton SAE 30, they offered me something cheaper from Poland, but I was not sure. This thing also needs SAE 80 transmission oil and I have no idea how to insert it, not even how to check its levels, because instructions were not so easy to understand. Another thing instructions did not explain was how to use the grease nipples of the mower. But the guys in local brushcutter and chainsaw service said that I need some special injector, that I can buy in agriculture machine shop. The Multi Purpose Grease that I have to inject also remains mistery. At least I have chainsaw chain bio oil, that can be applied on the blades.


sorry for a blur, I will redo the photo and change it asap

The blade fixating screws were a problem, because you really need a strong wrench to let them loose. I found a good wrench in my fathers car.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA First you release the middle self locking ring with a strong tool, and then use a hex screwdriver for the inner screw.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And I was very disappointed about a cutting height. It can be adjusted only to 6 cm. Don’t misunderstand – I need 10 cm or even more away from the ground, because I have molerats and wild pigs making surface uneven. Moreover, 10 cm is a prequisition if your grassland is certified as biodiverse. I have to remake these sliders, otherwise I will damage the blades.

Unfortunately I have not managed to start up this thing. So I can’t tell you what is the performance. It has 87 cm width and 2,5 km/h speed, so I expected 6 hours to cut 1 hectare of land. That is slow, but it is much faster and easier than brushcutter or scythe. Anyway, the biggest deal is to collect and transport hay.


About Pavels Melnis

Independent ecology activist, family farmer, gardener and forestkeeper. Musician: violin, guitar, singing. Hobbies: traveling by bicycle, learning to play different music instruments - accordion, piano, recorder flute, harmonica, drums; languages, theology, prehistory, logbuilding, repairing and recycling. Religious. Ecological. Love all things ethnic and traditional.
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One Response to Cutting grass – harvesting direct payments 2014 – Struck by lyme disease

  1. Pingback: How to make hay without tractor on 30 ha of land. Cutting grass – harvesting direct payments. 2016. | Pavels Melnis

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