Haying time is here again, and while it is later in the season than usual, and it seems to be taking much longer than anticipated thanks to erratic weather; we are starting to see bales in the fields. Last year was so dry that we didn’t have a very solid crop, but this year we have been lucky with the rainfall and that, combined with a more focused fertilizer plan has doubled (or more) our hay production.
Hay on the fields is a great thing, but getting it cut, raked, and baled can be interesting…you have to understand that these machines only see use once a year, and while they are solid performing implements, they are terribly finnicky. The problem with having them sitting idle eleven months a year is that the operator (me) forgets all the different quirks and adjustments needed to keep the whole operation running smoothly. It took three broken shear pins and a shattered hay knife bushing before I managed to fine tune the haybine and the first few (admittedly more than a few) of the bales were lopsided or tied incorrectly requiring much fiddling (read: bending back the bent parts and more than one call to a friend with more experience on the baler). At this time, I am not emotionally ready to discuss my experiences with the hay rake. We will only assume that there were some things said that shouldn’t be repeated and that at least once I threatened to get the torches out and cut it into scrap.
Complaints and grumbling aside, we are fortunate to have things more on track with hay production, cultivation, and storage this year. I’ll also admit that putting on the headphones, listening to the loud records that only I seem to like around here, and doing hot laps of the fields is a good time to think and even relax a bit. Between the noise of the engine and implements, I’m pretty sure no one can hear me singing along. I am learning (and re-learning) more and more about the process, and I am looking forward to having a full hay barn again. Having the bales stacked much deeper this season means that we can rest assured that we will have more than enough to keep the flock optimally fed this winter. It is also kind of neat to know exactly where the hay came from and that we can have such a clear indication of the work in the fields paying off.
See you out in the grass,