It is with a big sigh of relief to watch the last load of hay being removed from the field and headed for the barn.
Now comes the real work.
Each piece of equipment that was taken into the field to produce the hay now needs to be moved back to the storage barn and cleaned up before being stowed away until next year. Continue reading
A few posts back I had made a statement about how we try to keep the farm as neat and tidy as possible by cleaning up and storing everything from hand tools to heavy equipment to recycling. I like to think we have a well kept place, but many times I am wrong. Continue reading
The John Deere Gator is the most used piece of equipment on the farm. It is transport from one side of the river to the other during twice daily feedings, we haul hay, fencing, dogs, cats, calves and people to every corner of the place. It goes up hill and down, around the river, through the woods and up the road.
During this cold snap we have moved out the car and moved the Gator into the garage. Sitting inside the shop does not offer enough protection from the elements and the moisture that dropped off the undercarriage kept causing the Gator to freeze itself to the ground.
It’s ok that my garage smells like a barn for a while, as long as our valuable transport can stay running.
Our brief interlude of wet weather has now broken into a weather pattern that looks like it will hold clear, dry and warm for the next week or so. That means we are back to making hay.
Mike has mowed the back half of the first field. Today we will move in a fluffer, it is a 4-barrel egg beater contraption that is pulled behind a tractor and run by the PTO drive. The fluffer picks up 2 hay rows at a time and whisks it into mixed, puffy miss-mashed grass that no longer stays in neat rows. The fluffed grass allows for air flow and the whole field dries at a more even rate than just leaving it to dry how it fell.
A rake will be the next piece of equipment in the field. The rake will take the wildly strewn spears of grass and retrain them back into neat rows again for a little more drying before we move in with the baler to compress the dry grass into finished hay.
Our 2 tractors will be busy the next week switching from one piece of equipment to another depending on what the field needs next.
The grass hay fields enjoyed a good shot of rain last week, the timing gave much needed moisture, and the grass seemed to shoot up an inch overnight.
The fields are still fenced off from grazing right now so the grass can continue to grow until we bring the mower in to cut the fields for hay. The harvest usually starting in late June. Last year with the dry weather and high temperatures, the fields dried out quickly and we had to start harvesting a couple weeks early before the grass started drying and losing nutrients. Continue reading
This time of year brings equipment out of the barns from where they had been stored. We used this spreader to distribute pelletized lime onto the hay fields. The composting manure that had been layered onto the fields during the winter months adds nitrogen to the soil, the lime then sweetens the fields and gives the grass a quick growth spurt.
The color of the grass growing in the fields changes quickly, sometimes just a day or two if the weather turns warm. The soil soaks in the lime and the grass turns from a bright spring green to a vibrant rich green. Spots that had been missed during the application process can be seen easily.
But the spreading is only half the job. It takes nearly as long to clean the equipment as it took to spread the two tons of lime. This equipment will be cleaned and then dried in the sunshine before gears are lubed and it is put back into storage for the next year.