Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the Farm

It's haying time.

For those who are not familiar with farming and ranching, this might seem like an easy concept.

The hay is cut by a swather (or windrower, if you're inclined to call it that). Then it is left to dry for a bit. Sometimes it is raked. Then it is baled and saved to feed to the livestock in the winter months when grazing is scarce or impossible due to snow cover.

That's the simple version.

The complicated version involves a constant guessing game. Timing is important during haying. If the hay is cut and then rained on, it loses quality and yield. If it is cut too late, it loses quality and yield. If it is raked too dry, it loses quality and yield. If it is baled too wet, it will mold and may actually create enough heat that it will start on fire.

I think you probably get the point. Haying is a tricky business. Our resident farmer keeps one eye on the weather forecast at all times.

And usually, when everything aligns and the time is just right to cut or bale, the equipment breaks down. Agriculture is a humbling business. Perfection is always elusive.


Dawn said...

"Perfection is always elusive."

Always. No matter what your walk in life happens to be. But, life is easier once you realize that!

Great pictures! I could almost smell the hay.

Anonymous said...

I told my hubby last weekend he needed to send me to weather school. He spends a lot of time asking me what the radar or forecast look like. Haying always brought the worrier out in my grandpa too.

We are moving along on our second cutting now here in Michigan.

Jen said...

Around here we call that a Haybine, we have one of the bigger ones in our area at 16 feet. Mike always goes for quantity the first cutting but from there on out it's quality. Plans this year are to do more square baling so we can monitor feed consumption and not waste especially with corn up over $7.00/bu and I just know beet pulp will go up too because of the fuel price....that is if people can even afford to harvest come fall....

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of hay! We just got our round bales done last week. We ended up getting rain while baling on Sunday so it made the hay too tough to square bale. DH had a guy come to round bale it instead. I tell ya, if you need rain, just cut your hay; it works every time. BTW, we call it a haybine here too. We have one that looks a little different than yours. We cut a lot of road ditches so that's why we got rid of the swather.

Nice pictures as usual Erin!


Jenny said...

Yup, baling hay is an exact science. And one bad bale can ruin a reputation. If a dairy finds out you baled some hay up too wet, you can bet they aren't going to buy from you anymore!

cndymkr / jean said...

As a city girl I had no idea of all that was involved in baling hay. So you're saying it doesn't just roll itself up during the night? I have so much to learn.

Anonymous said...

Aw! Reminds me of home!

Frazzled Farm Wife said...

We are about a week away from our second cutting of hay. Right now we are busy putting up road ditches. I love the smell with haying season...nothing like the smell of fresh cut alfalfa.

Bill Harshaw said...

Now in my day we used a sickle bar mowing machine, side delivery rake, hay loader, and hay wagon. (Later we went to bales.) And we didn't have the weather forecasts you all have today. But our dependence on the vagaries of the weather was the same. It's a good education--you have to deal with the world as it is and the cards you're given.

Pony Girl said...

It was nice to see the process up close. I saw a little bit of it a couple weeks ago when my sister went and picked up hay that had just been baled. It is really tricky around here because of all the rain. The first cutting were really late. One bale was still damp and hadn't been dried properly.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed seeing how you do your hay! I have documented (in photos) our process in Colorado. Terry, my husband, really enjoys 'making hay' the real kind! :) I tell him he is a hay artist.

You are so right, creating hay from a crop is an exacting science and sometimes the weather just doesn't help.

As stated in another comment on your blog, 'if you want rain, cut the hay.'

I hope your little boy's arm is doing okay, seems like one or other of my four children (as they were growing-up) always had something hurt!


Anonymous said...

I love seeing the pictures you take around the farm and finding out how things work around there..


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