Making Hay —June 8, 2014

Terry finished up  the last of the hay bales this morning…driving the tractor pulling the hay baler in around 5:00.   He went out as soon as the dew started settling down in the wee hours of early morning…I think around 2:00.  I was asleep when he left.  (It’s around 7 in the morning [now] and he’s all tucked up in bed resting.

MoneyHe started baling yesterday morning around 7,  the dew didn’t set on until then.  He finished around 9 when the sun had finally burned all the dew off the plants. He likes to bale with the dew as it keeps the little alfalfa leaves still attached to the stems.  If you don’t have the dew the baler will knock the leaves off as it picks up the dried alfalfa and smashes it together forming a bale, then you are left with just a bundle of stems.   If there is too much dew or it is baled to green the bale will mold, or worse yet heat up and combustion will occur.

making-hay-for-blog

Making nice quality hay is a art.

I must brag a bit —I am married to a hay artist! 🙂

This making of good hay has always been a strong interest of his.  When Terry was 10 he was in charge of the cutting and baling of his Dad’s 80 plus acres of alfalfa.  Terry’s father farmed 160 acres and milked cows for the Clymer’s Dairy in Grand Junction, CO…I think he had somewhere around 50 head. Terry’s Dad raised all the feed–corn, hay for the cows, plus Red Clover for seed and pinto beans, maybe other crops.

By the time Terry was 12 he had a small hay making business (with the help of his Dad and his Dad’s equipment) — he made hay for his  Dad’s  Dairy, and several neighboring ranches.

I think his love of making a nice, high quality hay bales started way back there.  The example set by his Dad, his Mother’s drive to create something and to create it to perfection.

It still holds true today.

stacking-hay-13

So he creates the hay bales and then it’s the dog’s and my turn to go help. While he is loading the hay with the stack wagon….a wonderful invention that took away the ‘hay crew’ (a team of young men, usually high school age, and the farmer…and possibly the farmer’s daughter to drive the tractor.  So what you had was the tractor driver, a young man to heft and swing a 50-80 pound bale onto a moving trailer/wagon on each side of the trailer/wagon and a young man on the top of the trailer/wagon to stack the load as high as possible.  Once it was HIGH the whole load and the people headed into the stack where the farmer (usually) was waiting.  Backing up the trailer/wagon the four men started stacking the hay bales creating a huge hay stack.   By noon–the hay crew arrived around 7 in the morning–lunch was ready.  This consisted of a HUGE meal—the farmer’s wife and if she had a daughter or two at home, spent the whole morning creating a giant feast!  For instance—Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, corn bread or biscuits or homemade rolls, with some rich dessert to top everything off.  Large pitchers of ice water, or iced tea, or lemon-aid helped wash the whole thing down.  As soon as the meal was over it was back to the field.  Everyone received their paycheck after the last bale was stacked, maybe two days or so later.)

LoadingThe stack wagon simplified the whole operation.  Terry runs the stack wagon,

stacking-hay-30

He is unloading at the stack right here.

YepI run the four-wheeler.Fuzzy stays right with me.  He sees it his duty to always be ‘right with me’.

Work

Boomer sees it his duty to check out what is happening all over the farm. (He is that tiny black and brown and white dot clear at the end of the field.)

See

(See Boomer in the brush? 🙂 )

Fuzzy and I go up and down making sure the bales are straight so Terry doesn’t have to get off and straighten the bales;  helping them slide right in and up into the stack on the wagon.

Still-helpingAfter I get done with straightening the bales, I take the loose hay missed by the baler and load it into a little cart attached to the four-wheeler…once more going around the field–forking the yellow sweet clover into the high grass at the end of the field for the deer to munch and the loose hay into my cart. As my cart fills I haul it to the last row still to be baled.  It’s hot work.

It’s important to get all the hay off because it will smother the alfalfa underneath and plug up the furrows not allowing the water to flow to the end of the rows.

My arms are strong so it doesn’t take me overly long.

Hay Stack But today is Sunday. Today we rest. Although, Terry had to bale when the dew was perfect, we will finish the work tomorrow. Today we only do what MUST be done, like irrigate. Also two of the grandchildren are coming to spend Sunday and Monday and part of Tuesday with us since their parents are going to Craig to look for houses.

You have a nice Sunday everyone…it’s always good to have a sort of day off once a week.

You Farm Friend,

Linda

 

 

23 thoughts on “Making Hay —June 8, 2014

  1. It is such a wonderful feeling to have the hay in without having a downpour isn’t it?
    Our hay will not be ready for another month here in the North of the UK.

    Like

  2. I sure wish the stack wagon had been invented when I was growing up. I always seemed to get the job of hefting the bales onto the wagon. I always slept well the following night, so I guess I shouldn’t have complained. I hope you have a wonderful time with your grandchildren.

    Like

  3. It just occurred to me that you will probably get summers with the grandkids! That makes me happy. I wish I had grandparents on a farm! I love that Terry is a hay artìste! Wonderful story about his life-long hay work.

    Like

  4. I know it is summer when I hear the Pa Dunk, Pa Dunk of the balers all night long. Here there is very little humidity and the baling starts about midnight. Our neighbors have a thousand acres to bale. Grass and alfalfa. We have a tiny hay field now…just enough for the few sheep for winter. DH does all the stacking and hauling by hand like in the old days. I love the smell of the hay in the fields. How many cuttings of alfalfa do you get a year? Funny how country folk mark time and seasons by the work. What a great posting today.

    Like

  5. There really is an art — and a science — to making high quality hay. Your description of the old haying process sure brought back memories. I used to “buck” those hay bales in the summer. Great workout. Reading your post, I could feel the alfalfa leaves sliding down my shirt collar as I bucked a bale up on the wagon, which took a special technique involving getting your knee under the bale and swinging it just right to get up to where the stacker guy could grab it. Wore out a pair of jeans (the knees) and two pair of gloves every week doing that work.
    I remember the first day I showed up with my little brown bag lunch, the farmer (out in the Gunnison Valley) looked at it and just laughed. When we came in for “dinner” about 11:30 that morning, I understood why. Roast beef, sliced ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, salad, ice cold milk and, for dessert, peach cobbler.
    Thanks for bringing back those memories, Linda — and of course, thank you and Terry for continuing to do what you do.

    Like

  6. I’m constantly in awe of the knowledge the farmers have that can only be learned by experience. I read that the average age of a farmer is in their 50’s. I have to wonder what happens when they no longer farm.

    Like

  7. Telling like it was/is. Throwing bales is hard work. What I remember most is the cooking no matter what you were doing – it didn’t get any better. Yes and the what seemed like the ever present daughters.

    Great post!

    Like

  8. That’s beautiful alfalfa. I’ve swung a bale or two in my time… I found out a few weeks ago I still have the knack when I stacked two bales in the bottoms of my 3 raised beds! But these days my shoulders and arms let me know all about it! A great post, great photos, have a great day of rest.

    Like

  9. It’s nice to not have to depend on so many hands to stack the hay now. Interesting to know about the dew, and getting the hay at just the right time. Fuzzy and Boomer look like great helpers.

    Like

  10. Oh, I do love putting up hay. And it is an art! I do small round bales, usually can’t start very early in the morning as the dew is usually very heavy on the river bottom. I used to make squares and in a way wish I still did. But, the bale wagon HATED me. And, several times someone else has had to feed for me and rounds are easier.
    You start ahead of us. I won’t start for a couple of weeks yet, depending on the weather. The stuff looks awful this year but if we get a good rain in the next few days…..
    I’ve been reading every day, but not posting. Life is crazy you know.;

    Like

  11. I stand in awe of all that hard work, makes me feel like a sloth 🙂 Great looking stacks all perfectly aligned. Laura

    Like

  12. How satisfying it must be to get such a critical task completed. And what a fine art it is! I had no idea. You sound very proud of your hay artist husband.

    Like

  13. wonderful post LInda…haymaking… I remember those teams of everyone – even the children used to be in the fields when mine were small, and the exhausted fun and feasting afterwards… farming is more efficient and yet lonelier now….it seems…unless you have a Fuzzy and a Boomer !!

    Like

  14. Ah Linda, seeing the hay being put on the stack wagon and in your photos in wait brings back memories of driving some of the country roads in southwest CO when I lived there. I truly enjoyed your post today. Have a fantastic week.

    Dawn

    Like

  15. Yay for having the hay done!!! Sure wish the stack wagon had been around in the 50’s!! Daddy did round bales back then, so don’t know if that would have worked for us. I do remember when it rained, my brother and I had to go to the field and roll those bales over to dry underneath! Kudos to Terry for being a great hay artist!! However, your work is not to be discounted…hard work for you forking that hay! Glad you had the puppies there to help you! 🙂

    Take care…blessings!

    Like

  16. Wow—Terry is the MASTER for sure… As you know, I know NOTHING about farming or baling hay.. SO–I found your post very interesting… Didn’t know about the importance of DEW…. Wow—Neat!!!!! I’m sure that Terry was TIRED –but glad he took part of Sunday off….

    Hugs,
    Betsy

    Like

  17. That is one beautiful hay field…so green! Terry is a Master Hay Maker! I remember the old days. I used to help buck up the bales from the ground where they were baled onto the wagon…then stacked in the hay mow…also remember the loose hay days but I was too little to help then. I hated the blisters on my hands from the baling twine and the itchy legs and arms and being oh so itchy:(

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.