Making hay…

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Actually, only God can make hay. Farmers grow and cut and bale and put up hay. My youngest brother farms the land around his own home, the folks’, and our sisters’ homes. It is about 500 acres. He does this by himself, and he works like a horse. He is a fourth generation farmer. Maybe more, but we’re just talking the traceable ancestors.

This is the way making hay works: the first year alfalfa is planted under a cover crop of winter wheat to protect its roots. The winter wheat is harvested in the spring. The grass continues to grow, and doesn’t need to be reseeded for several years. When the alfalfa reaches a certain height, the farmer watches the weather forecasts very carefully. Five dry days in a row are needed for cutting time. If everything goes well, the hay is cut and it dries on the ground, is raked (turned over), and dries on the other side. Then the hay is baled and thrown into a rack, which is a great big cart with open sides. There is modern equipment for these steps. Somewhere along in the process, there is this meter thingie that is stuck into the hay to measure the moisture. This is important because if the hay is too moist, it can heat up and cause a fire in the barn. Fires are not good.

Now, this part is a disclaimer. The above information was gathered after a couple glasses of wine, and may have some technical errors. Just sayin’.

The carts are maneuvered into covered barns, and when the farmer has everything set up, and good weather, and good help, the hay is put up into the barn. This is where I come in as an eyewitness, and genuine temporary farm worker-type person. There is an elevator with a chain and some hooks, which is really just a slanted, narrow track with an electric motor. The track can be raised and lowered. It is set up to rise to the upper barn window, which is open into the loft. The hay rack is pulled into place loaded with about 100, give or take, bales of hay all piled catty-wampus. The wife and one sister stand in the hay rack, and one sister stands on the ground. The ones in the rack toss (more like wrestle) bales to the one on the ground, who feeds the bales onto the elevator. The farmer is up in the loft to take the bales that are lifted up the elevator, and to stack them in very neat, orderly, and balanced piles so the barn can store many, many bales from several cuttings that will last for the entire winter and even beyond.

In the old days, the women spent the whole morning and before cooking for the workers. On this day, the women (plus farmer) were the workers. It was good work. We emptied three carts and put up 356, plus or minus a few, bales of hay. Then we coughed, drank water, brushed ourselves off, and went in the kitchen to eat some good chicken salad. Who needs hired help, when you have a good wife and a couple of sisters?

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2 responses »

  1. Hay Deb, Your life makes such beautuful patterns. What a memorable day…. ar nica…for sore muscles 🙂

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