Time To Clean And Store

With the last of the hay fields completed and every last bale has been put into the barns and stacked for feeding during the late fall and winter months,

Hay equipment stored in barn.A visitor to the farm (a city person who had never seen working property before) took one look at the barn full of equipment and stated that farmers have the coolest toys. I try to keep that thought in mind while we use high pressure air to dislodge all the dry accumulation. Continue reading

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My Favorite Holiday

Yup you guessed it, my favorite holiday is HAY SEASON! What?  It is true, my favorite time of the year is hay season, I like it so much that I personally call  it number one on my holiday list. Now, you may be thinking, what is there to like about hay season since there have been numerous posts about issues, worries, problems, long days and stress that doesn’t end until the final bale is in the barn. So I will try to list them (in no particular order).

  • I get plenty of fresh air
  • The hay fields smell glorious as the green grass is drying in the sunshine
  • Long days in the hay field make for very sound sleep at night
  • The cows are happy because they are in charge of cleaning up each field as we finish and there is lots of good munching out there
  • My abdominal muscles get a daily workout
  • Long hours on the tractor give me time to think about our Universe and to ponder and solve difficult equations (trouble with this is that notes cannot be written since two hands are needed to keep tractor where it is supposed to be and the second I get off the tractor all revelations disappear into the ether)
  • The residents of the whole household are too tired to bicker with each other
  • My farmer-tan (elbows to wrists and neck to ear tips) makes me look like I just got off a Caribbean cruise if I wear the right clothing
  • I have gotten really good at hand signals to other family members across the field (examples are: do I leave the tractor in the middle of the field or bring it to the barn? do you need a coat? how about a break since I need to piddle, want to dance or may be delirious?-these three are the same gesture and sometimes are all happening at the same time).  Anyway, I am going to rock the next game of charades
  • I don’t have to cook since everyone is too tired to eat. Just heat up something from the freezer with a salad before trundling off to bed
  • I wear out some of the most awful clothes I have (its my way of cleaning out my closet since hay season is rough on clothing). This year I ruined two pair of jeans, three shirts, a sweatshirt, several pairs of socks, two pair of heavy duty gloves and one pair of shoes. Good riddance to every last one of them
  • I tend to lose a few pounds without even trying
  • I get to celebrate this holiday for days, and days and days and…
  • And the most important reason that I love hay season holiday: I am sooooo happy when it is over!

Even though we do not have all the equipment unloaded I am hereby calling it official, for 2019 my favorite holiday has ended. The very last bale is in the barn safely tucked away from thunderstorms, hail and the reported tornado that touched down in Portland the other day. All of our hay sneaked out of the fields unscathed by the tempestuous weather (and wouldn’t ya know it, the forecast now calls for no rain for the next ten days).

Now its time for you to enjoy your favorite holiday, no matter which one it is. Happy July 4th everyone!

 

Make Mine Double Stuff

There is upheaval in the barns these days. Hay season is a busy time in the field and in the barns. Lots of noise when directing cattle out of the way, movement with equipment the truck,  wagon or tractor, bales coming in or being shuffled around, noise from human helpers, and the list goes on. The barn cats are not used to all this excitement but are trying to make do by sneaking in for a meal at odd times instead of the whole pack eating at once.

There are days when I only see a cat or two and at other times I can count all seven of the adults as they gather around the feeding dish.

Two black cats with a white cat in the middleToday it was only three of the barn cats. The dark calico mama PegLeg, the black mama cat, and the big white tom, Rufus.

For some reason the trio make me think of Oreo cookies as I watch them chow down. With Rufus being nearly twice as big as the diminutive mamas, I think Double Stuff is appropriate. And now that you see it, you are probably craving a cookie yourself.

And So It Begins

The extra dry May add June has had an effect on the grass hay fields. The grass is shorter than normal not as thick, it is also ripening faster than usual.

Tractor mowing hay field.In a normal year, hay season would start closer to the end of the month but we have gotten a few of the smaller fields cut early. Mike started mowing on Thursday and by Sunday we had started picking up bales.

Strong gusts of wind occurred before we had the chance to get the rows baled into hay. The windrows were tossed around the field willy-nilly. It made for some interesting driving to try to pick up all the clumps that were scattered to and fro.

 

 

One Week Later

IMG_5008Hay season has been over for one week, and with the help of a couple days of summer rain showers, the pasture is growing back nicely.

The new growth is a favorite of the herd. They go around the field eating the green spears.

By having a little green growing back, the hay bales that have been put into the barns will last longer through the winter. After last years poor crop of hay and meager regrowth of the pastures, we had to end up buying several load of hay to get us through the year even though we sold several extra animals throughout the year.

 

Done, Done, Done!

I don’t know why but this hay season has been particularly hard. Nothing has changed over the year except that I am one year older and I know that can not be the problem. I mean, one year could not make that much of a difference, chould it?

My mind says no, but I believe my body is saying differently.

Anyway, hay season is done for the year. The hay is all stacked in the respective barns, the equipment has been cleaned and stacked in order and are in their storage bays until it is time to bring them out again  next year. The cows will have feed through the winter. And I am tired.

I am sure that a few days of down time and I will be back to my old self, but for today, I would like to run away. But it just seems like too much of an effort to do that. Instead, I’ll hook up the rotary mower to the small tractor, slap on my straw hat, and spend some quality time mowing down Canadian Thistles while I contemplate the meaning of life (this always seems to cheer me up).

That Was Disappointing

It was a good hay season day, temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, a light breeze blowing, and all the equipment and people were working as expected.

It had been a rather long day starting around daybreak. We were able to get quite a bit done while waiting for the dew to dry off the fields starting with the basic daily cattle chores and normal prep for field work (lots of greasing gears, lubing chains and mild cursing when the grease gun shoots the thick goo all over instead of inside the vital joints of well-used machinery).

By noon, my right-hand-helper arrived and we were ready to begin picking up bales in the farm truck. It was warm working out in the bed of the truck as the bales were delivered over the side racks by the Henry loader. But, the real heat of the day was felt during the unloading of the truck.

Under the hot tin roof of the barn, standing above a 7 high stack of bales that the bale wagon had neatly stacked, we man-handled bales off the top of the truck and up the stack 5 layers more in order to fit enough hay in the barn without using up all the floor space.

One person would move a bale from the front of the truck to a person on the back of the truck. Then, that person would lift one bale at a time to the one on the top of the stack, the top person would pile the bales up the stack one layer at a time. Because of all this lifting, we only remove only the top layers that are on the truck (about 80 bales). The base of bales on the truck assist the people lifting with a 12 foot height advantage to fill the top of the barn. It takes longer with more short trips in and out of the field to do it this way, but it saves on backaches.

After our helper for the day had left, the raking and baling continued out in the fields. The rush to get more bales for the next day was on. Day turned into evening. I broke away from the fields to do the evening cow chores. After chores, I went over to check if Mike was able to finish baling the field when I saw him driving the tractor with baler to the barn.

Broken part. Dang. Almost had this field done.

Until it was too dark to work outside, the rest of the evening was spent jerry-rigging a  make-shift part that will do until the end of hay season. Currently, there are a whole lot of pieces from the baler laying about the driveway. By morning, we should be able to get the baler back into working mode and again, and once the dew dries off, will be back at the business of making hay.