|Four Percheron horses at the hitching post, getting ready for noon break|
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 ~
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.