Saturday, June 25, 2011

Making Hay, Part 3

Be sure to read Making Hay Part 1 and Part 2!

We had some special overnight guests during the haying session ~

Our special Percheron horse guests!
It was good to have horses in the front pasture again.  After a good, cool nights rest the horses were ready for the new day to begin.  I was even able to help brush them down before harnessing ~ what a treat!

The next set of pictures was taken in the afternoon at the Burnham Farm side of our property, to the east of where our house is.  I tried to get a picture of the horses with the Round House in the background but never did.  The barn does a pretty good job of filling in though ~

This picture was taken from our daughters yard, it's next to one of the hay fields

I was kind of sad when the horses went home, I miss having them sometimes.  I know that Bill does and he spent a lot of time outside watching these four work while they were here.  I hope they come again!

The final hay field at the Burnham Farm.  This is made into square bales, over 1,000 bales from this small field alone!
On the last day, after all of the hay was baled, it started to rain.  Some of the wagons were still in the field but only got slightly damp.  Ours came into the barn fifteen minutes after the rain started, so we threw the top bales off to the side, spaced apart so air could get to them.

It's beautiful hay, our thanks to the farmer who makes it for us now!  On Fathers Day our son-in-law, our boy Alex and our eight year old grandson unloaded the wagon and stacked the bales in the west mow, ready for winter feeding.  I couldn't help but think how blessed we are.  We don't take that for granted, believe me!  I keep thinking about friends I know of who didn't have luck getting their hay up this spring - we have been there ourselves before and will be again sometime I'm sure.  It is the way of farming.

I first started writing these hay posts in early June.  I finally started getting them posted on the first day of summer, LOL!  It's been raining for the past four days, but I'm glad to say that the sun is out in full force this morning and with the moisture in the ground and this good sunshine we look forward to the hay fields growing in preparation for a second cutting of hay.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taking A Day Trip

To nearby Maple Valley Farms for a Farmgirl Frolic! 

Cottage window charm at Maple Valley Farms Cottage
With the hay finished here on this side of the farm, the farmer who partners with us made the wise decision to wait on cutting the other farm because it rained for two days.  I hesitated when Angie made the invitation, but my dear husband thought I should go ~ and I'm so glad that I did!  A small group of us made our way to a flea market and then shared good food and fellowship at The Cottage.  It was so good to see Homemaker Ang after the long winter (if you have never visited before, be sure to check out her amazing family farm blog at the link above!)

These were my flea market finds/purchases - a set of wooden platters with the flower detail you see above (a set of four for $2 and the vendor threw in a second set for no extra charge - I didn't even have to ask, LOL!) plus a lovely new Martha Washington geranium and several scented geraniums as well.

A very good day.  Thank you Angie ;)

Making Hay, Part 2

This next picture (below) was taken in May, looking north from the house across the sheep pasture.  The sheep pasture is the one with the yellow dandelions blooming.  Can you see the bright green beyond the fence on the left of the photo?  That is a new seeding field of alfalfa.  To the right, in front of the woods, is an older meadow that is cut just once in the spring.  After that it becomes pasture for the sheep.  It is a sheep smorgasbord of grass mixes, timothy, alfalfa, June clover and Birdsfoot trefoil.  Sheep love it and so do deer and wild turkeys ~

Cutting the hay started the first full week of June with this field.  Conditions were perfect - dry, bright sunshine and a warm breeze with low humidity.  The hay was cut, raked, cured and baled by Wednesday evening.  Most of the big round bales were even moved off the field before the rains began that night!
Four Percheron horses pulling a large motor on a cart in front of the round baler
This picture gives you a better idea of the order of things.  The teamster, Chester, sits next to the motor and drives the horses.  Here the round baler is kicking out a finished bale
In  days past, my husband might have raked the hay with young horses he was training.  It is fairly easy work yet gets the horses tired enough to learn to walk quietly and appreciate the chance to stand still and rest at the end of the rows.   He can't work horses any more, so this hay was turned with a tractor and rake before our friends came with the horses and outfit you see pictured above to finish with the baling.
An old horse drawn hay rake, this one used for parts but no longer needed and parked along the woods edge
That took care of the hay fields on this side of the woods.  In Part 3, I'll show you baling from the Burnham Farm fields.

Making Hay, Part 1

If you're involved in raising livestock in any way, then you know that of course you have to feed them.  And if you live where there is winter weather, then part of the year that will mean feeding hay (grasses cut, cured and put up for animal feed). 

You either purchase your hay or you produce it yourself.  Sometimes that includes not just raising the crop on your farm but also having the equipment and manpower needed to cut the hay; rake the hay (turn it over and let the sunshine cure it till dry); make the hay into bales to store through the winter (either big round bales or small square bales); wagons to haul the hay and then a barn or shed to store it until needed.  Equipment can be tractors and machines, like in the picture below (that's quite an array of mechanical horsepower parked in our front yard!) ~

or the original horsepower (draft animals) and implements ~
Four Percheron horses at the hitching post, getting ready for noon break
Sometimes you have a combination of both!  That was the case for the 2011 hay season at our farm, and what a joy this was. 

Here at Serenity Farms the majority of our farm is pasture land for seasonal grazing and hay ground, with some acreage rented out for row crops (usually corn and soybeans, sometimes wheat or spelts)  As a farm raising livestock, haying time is pretty intense!  And it doesn't end with just getting the hay put up in the barn, there are also decisions like "how much" to put up.  You want to be sure you have enough to last through the winter months and just like everything else on the farm that is related to weather, how early winter comes and how long it lasts until  you can get animals back out on spring pasture will effect that decision.  I am pretty obsessive about how much hay we have in the barn for winter - I always want to much!  This year, we cut it pretty close - here is what the hay mow looked like when we first started turning the sheep out on grass ~
The spelt straw (golden yellow on the left of the photo is in good order) but the hay (bright green to the right) was cutting it pretty close - only about 25 bales left at the start of grass season!  Whew, I was stressing a bit ;)

Hay has been a part of my life as long as I can remember, and even the parts that I can't ((grin)).  I grew up in a haying family, and even when Mom and Dad didn't have a farm my grandparents and uncles did, and Dad worked with them.  I married into a haying family - my husband had this farm already set up for hay production when I came along ;)  We don't have our own equipment anymore for various reasons (health and circumstance) but we do have the hay ground and now it's put up "on shares" - where a farmer who does have the equipment makes all of the hay and we get our portion as part of the rent of the land.

Trust me, this does not take the stress of hay season away completely, LOL!

I'd like to share a few photos with you of the first cutting hay making (there will be a second cutting, and hopefully even a third) and I hope you enjoy them, and maybe  understand and appreciate that this isn't just a group of serene, pastoral farm photos but a glimpse of the toil and sweat and hard, hard work in some of the most extreme weather that farmers go through to produce a good crop.  The other key ingredient is the weather, and God is in charge of that.  Some years we get it made just right, some years not.  We have had our share of both, and are grateful that this year it was perfect.

I'll do this in three parts, mostly with pictures and not so many words, so it will be easier for you to view.  This is Part 1.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Farm Kids

Kids ~ Grandkids ~ Farm Kids!

Yes this skinny girl is my child, mother to these two boys!  I was that skinny once, too, a long time ago ;)


Boots with shorts is perfectly acceptable farm fashion

I love this last picture so much, it almost makes my heart hurt....8 years old and 4 years old, brothers though not exactly friends at this stage, headed out on an adventure with Grandma (me).  I just want to capture this image and hold it in my heart forever!

Farm Flowers

Photos taken from around the farm and fields over the past few weeks ~

From woods edge (below) and a hybrid Iris (above) ~

From herb and flower beds ~

An old rose, full of bloom and fragrance (above) ~
 And from the Burnham Farm, the old fashioned Mock Orange bush and our daughters flower bed ~

What has been your favorite blossom this spring?