As we completed the fourth and last field, the counter on the baler read 3073.
This number is good news and bad news.
The good news is that we have the barns stuffed full and there is plenty of feed for the herd. The bad news has to do with me.
Over the years we have spent on this farm, we have tried to produce enough hay for our herd without needing to go out to purchase and haul home more feed. The last 3 years we have had to augment our hay supply with purchases. I had adopted a mantra that was nearing the nagging stage, “five less cows, five less babies.”
It never seemed to be a good time to cull out the herd. Once I was told the market was too strong, the animals were too good a value to get rid of. The next year I was told the market was too weak and we would not get enough money for the animals if we sold them. Last year I was told that our current genetics are ‘just right’ and the critters were too high a quality to be thinned out.
I finally wore him down with my mantra holding strong through the years, Mike started to weed out a few candidates and he did bring down the total herd membership even though it was not yet as low as I was preaching about.
Now with the hay season nearing completion, we have enough bales to feed all the animals that we currently have. So we do not need to sell anymore of the breeding stock at this time. My mantra is on hold for a little while until the herd uses up this good supply of hay.
With the fourth and last field mowed flat then fluffed, it was time to start raking the rows of grass so the baler could come in to make the dried hay into bales.
As I came around the third turn and headed to where I began raking the field, I spotted a large something out near the middle of the field. Even with the camera zoomed as far as it was capable, it is hard to see the object. It is that darker spot located toward the line of fir trees to the left of the center of the picture. Continue reading
Field number 3 is now safely stowed in the barn.
The counter on the baler says we have punched out 2253 bales so far. About 5 of those have broken. One because of a twine malfunction when baling, one when the stack in the barn fell over, another happened when it got stuck going onto the Stackliner and two happened last night when an elk herd decided to come into the hay field while we were sleeping to play with the 300 bales that still needed to be picked up.
It must have been a fun game for them running around those bales in the field. It looks like they were knocking the bales around just for the heck of it. It is good that the bales are now under the roof and away from the elk and deer.
Field number four is being mowed now and is going to be fluffed tomorrow.
The counter on the baler reads 1485 at the end of the second field.
We have only broken 4 or 5 so far in the process so things are looking good so far.
The third field has already been mowed and fluffed and raked. Now the baler will be moved to that field to get all that hay into bales so they can be picked up and stacked in the barn.
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. Continue reading
The first day of the first field has been mowed into windrows behind the tractor. It is officially the first day of hay season, my FAVORITE season of the year!
My right-hand-helper asked how and why hay season was my favorite. It seems like the long, hot days working in the open sunshine while throwing bales of hay into stacks on the truck would dampen enthusiasm. Or the air sucking heat of the gables in the barn when the bales need to be lifted up onto the haystack. Or the lug, lug, lug of monotonous tractor time as the rows along the field get mowed, fluffed, raked, baled and picked up.
My answer with a grin, is that hay season is my favorite because when the two weeks of extreme workload is completed, it feels so good to see the barns filled to the brim with the sweet hay that will last all winter long. So, I love hay season!
The next piece of equipment that needs a bit of work is the Big Red Beast, my name for the old dump bed farm truck.
This old relic has seen a lot of use even before we bought it many years ago. It no longer is road-worthy and is only used to haul hay, rock and firewood from one part of the farm to another. Even with the small amount of use, something is always breaking.
The red cab sits on top of the engine. There is no kind of insulation and the driver sits in the metal cab in intensive heat. There has never been any air conditioning in the truck, but over the years the vent system fans corroded. To top that, most of the windows cannot be opened except for the driver side window which has to stay open so one can reach outside to open the door since the latch on the inside does not work.
When the truck was in better condition, I was able to drive it, barely. The controls for the gas, clutch and air brake are all very tempestuous and the only way I could push the clutch in was to pull the steering wheel for leverage while I stood to force the clutch to the floorboard. All I could manage was be 1st gear and reverse when I was lucky.
Things have deteriorated a lot since then, I am no longer able to even start the darn thing. Mike is the only one strong enough and has enough dexterity to maneuver all quirks, levers, and hinky fixes with finesse and brute strength.
I am relegated to stacking bales as they are dumped into the back of the truck by the field elevator.
I think, in fact I am certain I am getting the better job with all the fresh air I can suck in while hefting the bales into stacks in the back rather than cooking myself inside the Big Red Beast.