Two days of the thermometer hovering around 100 degrees, made for some very tough work conditions out in the hay field.
Everyone had a bottle of water handy at all times. Many breaks were needed throughout the heat. The tractors needed times to cool down because the heat coming off the drive shaft made it impossible to hold one’s feet on the clutch and brakes. Even the dogs struggled to stay in the field and made many trips down to the river to catch a cooling swim, they kept the moisture on their coats instead of shaking off and would seek shade anytime a piece of equipment was turned off.
The forecasters said that a slight cooling trend should temper the high heat and bring the area back into normal range of 75-85 degrees. No rain was forecasted for the next 10 days with no thunderstorm because the upper air was ‘too dry’. Mother Nature had other plans.
The cooler air started to come onshore about 5 pm so the evening cooled off nicely, we still had no clue that a storm was in the works and worked until 10 pm in the second hay field.
A daybreak, a small rumble of thunder far off in the distance was detected. We turned on the morning news and sure enough there was a storm cell forming at the coast line near the town of Tillamook. A half-hour later, the storm was tracking inland and barrelling directly toward the farm.
We scrambled as quickly as we could while being depleted from the last two days of intense heat and lack of sleep, and headed into the field to pick up the last 300+ bales that were left in the second field.
The lightening brightened the sky, thunder claps rumbled low and threatening while we counted seconds between to judge distance. We could tell it was coming closer with each burst. We were still working on the first load of bales when warm, fat drops of rain splatted on the field and our shoulders. As the load was complete we were drenched. A quick trip to the barn to unload the 70 bales took about 30 minutes longer than usual but the rain had stopped while the thunder and lightening continued.
Back out to the field to start the second load got us about halfway filled when the next round of rain started. The original dampness had dried somewhat, but the second shower came with intensity and we were soaked again. The loading process slowed because the bales became sticky with moisture, they could not slide along the mowed stalks and the pickup of the bale wagon struggled to move the bales from the ground to the load. We broke several bales and had to load them manually into the Gator to be hauled to the barn.
We worked through the storm and about noon the clouds began to break when the rain stopped. Since the last 70 or so bales left in the field we no longer in danger of getting any wetter we took a long break to dry off and let the bales do the same.
It was a long day, but the second field has all bales picked up. The outside rounds, center and corners will need to dry out again before they will be re-raked and baled. The wet bales in the barn will be ‘salted down’ that is using salt to dry out the moisture and keep the bales from molding. The salt does not bother the cows from enjoying the hay, and they seek out the salted bales during the winter when the bales are broke into the mangers.