Hay season has started here on the farm. The first field was mowed flat. After some drying, the hay was fluffed with an egg-beater type tedder to let air pass through and pull moisture out. When the grass was the correct dryness, the rake was used to coerce the hay into neat wind rows. The baler was moved in to the field and as one family member was creating the bales, another was going to be picking up with the bale wagon.
Because our fields follow the contour of the property and are bordered by trees, hills and the river, nothing is smooth or straight or rectangular. This first field of the hay season is one that has the most open space and would be ideal to pick up the bales with a hay wagon pulled behind the tractor. The bale wagon is able to scoop the bales out of the field, set them into rows on a flat bed, then stack the bales onto its bed. Once filled, the wagon is driven to the barn, with only one driver and one helper, can be unloaded to match up with the stack in the barn. This is much less demanding than the labor needed with the bales loaded in the big red beast and stacked manually in the barn.
On the twenty fourth bale of the first load, the sprocketed chain that moves the bales into position before setting them up on the bed, broke with a jerk. This caused a second, smaller chain to break. It was Saturday afternoon. A quick run down in the valley to the nearest machinery dealer is 25 miles away. By the time we got there, they were closed for the day and not open on Sunday. Second option, we checked with a local farmer just in case they had any equivalent chains that we could rig just to make do, but to no avail. Until Monday when we could order the parts, it was back to the Big Red Beast.
This picture shows the bales on the right that are stacked higher than the bed on the truck and manually moved one bale at a time to the stack on bales on the left. Yes, those are the rafters you see, and they are as close as they appear in the picture. We take advantage of all the space in the barns and fill right up to the rafters. Learning to duck when needed is a necessity.
As I am writing this we, have one hay field completed and stacked in the barn. Number two hay field has been mowed and is in the drying stage. The parts have been ordered for the bale wagon and hopefully we will have the bale wagon working when it is time to pick up the bales from this second field.