Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Farmers Life - Haying

I grew up on a farm, have lived most of my life on a farm, have worked for other farmers as my main source of employment and hope to live out the rest of my days on a farm. I cannot imagine ANY other way of life for me...the joys, the blessings, the harmony and first hand experience of God and His ways is sometimes more than I can fathom.

However, along with all of the joys come many heartaches, frustrations and problems.

Haying season is one example of this, one of the best - at least as far as frustration and lack of control!

Our farm is mainly hay ground and pasture. Many years, we get the hay put up in better shape than most and for that I am grateful. I guess 2006 is our year to be the not so fortunate ones.

Twenty five acres cut and raked, ready to bale and absolutely lovely first cutting hay...that soft green mix of timothy, orchard grass (tough to get cured sometimes) and brome with a wee little alfalfa. Sheep love it, horses love it and we were all set to put square bales in the top of the hip roof barn. This involves perfect timing of hay that is just right, dry but not TO dry...neighbor boys lined up to be in the field and load the wagons...tractor fueled up and equipment greased...hay wagons in the fields and barn floor cleared, waiting for those wagons full of hay to be brought in and mowed away.

Equipment and manpower are pulling into the field when - 1) a hydrolic hose bursts on the hay bine; 2) someone forgot to check the fuel in the diesel tractor and it runs out - this is a problem with a diesel and shuts that tractor down for the day; 3) the first round made with the square baler, with 40 bales on the wagon, and the baler shears a pin. John Deere dealership is understandably back logged and the baler can't be fixed for a day or two. That shuts things down for the night.

Next day, the hay is raked a second time and still not too tough at this point. Here is a picture at noon time of Alex taking Bill his lunch in the field so that he can keep working:

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Sun is shining and no prediction of rain, though it is hazy. Tractor and round baler are pulling into the field and the sun is still shining only now we hear thunder. He starts around the field and BAM!!! With the sun still shining in the west and the sky black as night in the east, we experience a summer downpour. Rain coming straight down in sheets, for all of five minutes - when it promptly quits raining and the sun comes out again.

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I'm not sure if you can see the standing water in the barnyard here or not. Now the humidity is high, the sun is shining, the hay has been raked TWICE and it is cooking ;(

Now our beautiful soft, fragrant, green sheep and horse an ugly brown wad of hay that will be fed to somebodies beef cattle.


Did I mention that I love being a farmer?

The plus side to this is that with all of this rain plus heat, the pastures are growing tall and lush. Plenty for the livestock to eat this summer, so far. I'll think about winter feeding tomorrow....and pray for good second cutting.


Prayerful Knitter - Shelly said...

I wish you the best for your hay for the rest of the season.

We have had so very little rain that our hay is non-existent and this is the same for others in our area.

I have many memories of bringing in hay. We loaded and hauled hay at night because of the intense heat. I remember as a youngster, taking my turn to drive the truck hauling the hay ... square bales at that time...and driving carefully between the rows so the guys could load the hay bales on the big flat bed truck. I'll never forget the time I fell asleep while slowly driving the truck in the middle of the night! I hit a hay bale and jolted the truck so hard that almost 1/2 the load of hay bales went tumbling back to the ground and one of the guys on the back of the truck quickly jumped safely to the ground. Well, I never fell asleep at the wheel in the hay field again after that! : )


Melissa said...

Oh Cary, what a shame! I never knew there was such a science to good hay. I thought it was just overgrown grass that was cut and dried and baled up. See why you need to blog? To keep us farmless dummies learning new things.

Trish said...

I can sure empathize Cary. Hay is getting harder to find here-and now after the flooding there will be even less. We talked to our regular supplier, and there should still be some for us to buy. Cornell University is now looking for hay from the local farmers here though-hope we don't lose out in the future. Realistically, if we had to pasture/grain only, we would be down to 2-3 sheep max-and no breeding. Since meat lambs are our biggest seller (and stock our freezer also), that would not be a good thing.