Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘cutting hay

Other Diversions

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While I have been consumed with our deck refurbishment it might seem like nothing else has been happening around here. That’s almost true. Even though I haven’t touched a vast number of the other projects deserving attention, there is one exciting thing happening that doesn’t require any effort from us at all.

Sunday afternoon the neighbors renting our fields sent someone over to do a last cut of hay after the first frost. I don’t know how it works, but we are happy that our fields will be cropped for the winter months.

There is some evidence that the tractor tires found a couple of muddy spots, but to my surprise, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. The ground is still as wet as a spring day in our region.

I will be very curious to watch how the rest of the raking and baling process plays out. The 7-day weather forecast looks promising for lack of precipitation, other than the light snow flurries we received after dark last night.

When they tried baling during the summer, it rained almost every day and the cut hay never got a chance to dry. That was when they gave up the cuttings to a beef farmer who rolled some ugly round bales out of the mess.

This hay will go to feed llamas. I’m going to guess they aren’t as picky as horses can be about the hay they are served in the dead of winter.

The air on Sunday was filled with tractor sounds as our neighbor to the north was harvesting his field of soybeans at the same time our fields were being cut.

The neighborhood “Next Door” app is popping with a rash of new members signing on in what I assume is a renewed push by someone to generate interest. We posted some of our “for sale” items there and enjoyed meeting several people who stopped by to shop. This weekend we are hosting a dinner with one couple to get to know them better.

In no time the earth will be frozen, snow will cover the land, and everyone will retreat to their winter cocoons for months of semi-hibernation.

It always amazes me we can live so close, but rarely cross paths with most of our neighbors, even when the weather is inviting. Winter just amplifies the rarity of interactions, beyond the sympathetic waves of acknowledgment when plowing out the ends of our driveways.

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Written by johnwhays

October 29, 2019 at 6:00 am

Round Bales

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We have a new look to our property lately. After weeks of our mowed hay fields getting wet, the neighbors who rented our fields arranged to have a beef farmer make some round bales out of it. That’s a first for us. It gives the place a different appearance.

Square bales like the ones we used must be picked up right away and moved under cover to keep them dry, but the round bales can be left out in the field. Beef cows are much less picky about what they eat compared to horses, so these bales of old grass that laid in the field for an extended time will still find use as feed.

I snapped that photo from the seat of our lawn tractor while mowing. I installed new blades after work yesterday and tackled two-thirds of the grass before the day started to fade. It’s amazing how hyper-sensitive I can suddenly (temporarily) be about mowing over any potential hazards like sticks, stones, and pine cones in the yard with new blades.

I know from experience that such intense concern does not last. After several accidental incidents of mowing over something I regret, I start to lose my inhibitions and trend increasingly toward reckless abandon. I’m pretty hard on mower blades.

I used to be pretty concerned about hay bales, too.

Not so much anymore.

I kind of like the way the round bales look in our fields. Gives an appearance of at least some level of functional progress. I’m not sure it entirely offsets the derelict impression the paddocks evoke, with the tall grass going to seed like never before, but the bales are a welcome sign of activity in our fields.

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Written by johnwhays

July 31, 2019 at 6:00 am

Angry Skies

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When I opened the door to take Delilah for a walk yesterday afternoon, the sound of endlessly recurring thunder from the southern horizon instantly notched up her excitement to 11. She wasn’t sure what to do with the fact it didn’t end. The rumbles just kept rolling over, one on top of the other.

Our assessment of the tipped tree across one of the trails in the woods was akin to the old “We will rebuild” memes with a lawn chair tipped over post-earthquake.

Removal of this hazard will barely require the chainsaw, but that is not a complaint. Not by any means. I am thrilled this is the worst we suffered. The bigger tree leaning from the right side of that image is from our neighbor’s property and it was blown over in a previous storm. I will probably tend to that at the same time I get around to dealing with the little one across the trail.

It is wet enough around here again that the mosquitoes have become a nuisance that will make lumberjacking a less pleasant endeavor. There may be a rudimentary trim that happens in the short term, leaving the ultimate cleanup for more inviting fall-like weather in a couple of months.

The chickens were undisturbed about the angry sky rumbling almost overhead and came out of the tall grass to be sociable when I stopped by to pick eggs.

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The cut fields from last weekend haven’t even been raked into windrows yet. They just haven’t caught a break this summer for getting enough consecutive rain-free days to allow the grass to dry sufficiently for baling. It’s really sad to watch. I would really be suffering emotionally if we were depending on it to feed horses.

I can’t imagine how all the others who need hay are dealing with it this summer.

By luck, our fields were missed by the round of cloudbursts that moved past just to our south yesterday, but chances don’t look promising for later today.

The angry skies seem to echo the vibrations coming from my news radio covering U.S. politics.

Boy, do I miss blue skies, dry days, sunshine, and benevolent leadership.

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Written by johnwhays

July 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Beyond Mowing

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The time of mowing is upon us in multiple ways. Beyond the usual routine of cutting our lawn grass, the big tractors are finally hitting the local fields to cut hay. The neighbors who are renting our fields knocked down the tall grass in opposite corners of our property recently, leaving a very noticeable line of uncut growth along the fenceline that Cyndie tackled with our power trimmer.

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Despite all the mowing going on, Cyndie continues to pull off a heroic amount of raspberry picking which naturally led to canning jam. Since she was going to be in that canning mode, she also made a trip to a local strawberry grower to pick a bulk of that jam favorite, as well as a stop at the grocery store for a couple of bags of cherries.

Even though canning jam deserves to be a single focus task, Cyndie chose to merge it with preparations to drive to Northfield, MN, for a mini-reunion with visiting Hays relatives. There, we uncovered a treasure trove in my sister Mary’s files of family newsletters from the days before the internet took over communication.

I don’t remember writing all those annual reports detailing our children’s school years, but reading back over those missives now gives me the impression I have been writing the equivalent of this daily blog for longer than just the ten years I’ve been posting here on Relative Something. In fact, the old family newsletter was called, “Relatively Speakin’.”

Seems to be a certain congruency there, no?

Who knows what lies ahead for this relative crew? It won’t surprise me if it ends up involving less mowing, but I doubt I will ever stop writing about whatever is happening in all of our lives.

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Written by johnwhays

July 14, 2019 at 9:55 am

Barely Started

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I don’t know why I would expect this year’s weather to be any better for getting our hay-field cut and baled in a timely manner compared to the previous five summers. It’s past the middle of July and we are still waiting on the neighbor who volunteered to tackle the job for us.

All the mowing I did last year to discourage weeds and give the grass a boost looks to be marginalized by the vast number of new weeds reaching maturity out there today.

I had hoped the field would get cut in June while I was on my bike trip, but Cyndie reported rain almost every day I was gone. Then there was the 4th of July holiday week, followed by more days of rain. The window of dry weather this week is very short, but Cyndie spoke with our neighbor and he confirmed our field is still in his plans.

I expect he needs to get his fields cut first. When I got home yesterday, I spotted him cutting a field on the corner.

Finally, last night we heard the tractor in our field. By the time I got out there to witness the scene, he had cut three passes inside the fence and was driving away down the road.

Did something fail on his equipment? Did he just run out of time? We’re hoping to talk with him later this morning to learn his status.

From the looks of the forecast, more rain is expected on Thursday. This doesn’t leave much time for drying, based on my understanding of the process. At least we have a spell of dry Canadian air over us currently. That goes a long way in determining how quickly the cut grass will dry.

Last week’s mid-70° dew point temperatures weren’t doing much toward helping anything to dry out.

Meanwhile, we have already purchased and stored enough hay for the year, so we don’t actually need this as much as we simply want the field cut, and are hoping someone could use the bales.

While walking the three freshly cut rows last night, Delilah was in her glory to investigate the scene. In no time at all, she had sniffed out the body of a decent sized rodent and consumed it faster than either Cyndie or I could react to dissuade her.

That’s really queasy-making, I tell ya.

Here’s hoping our neighbor’s barely getting started cutting last night will change over to completely finished by the end of today.

 

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Written by johnwhays

July 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Growing Green

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DSCN4603eWe don’t even recognize this brave creature that has sprouted from the earth at an alarming rate of growth in the last week. I am amazed that it is doing so despite our frequent harsh returns to winter. This beauty is exploding forth with a surprising rate of growth whenever it sees more than a few minutes of warm sunshine.

Cyndie says she has a little sign downstairs in a bag that would tell us what it is, but she doesn’t remember off-hand.

When the weather isn’t snowing and freezing, which it has done overnight more times than not lately, the green growing things have been reaching for the sky. The ground is so saturated with water that I shudder at the thought of trying to drive my lawn tractor over the grass, but it is quickly threatening to get long enough to deserve mowing.

Reminds me of the annual dilemma we face with our hay-field. We would like to cut it before it gets so overgrown that the stems get too woody, but when that maturity is developing, the ground is usually still too wet to drive on.

Also, when the tall hay growth gets cut and is laying on the ground for a couple of days to dry, it doesn’t work so well to have the ground be still saturated.

Here is a worm’s-eye view of the back yard that will need cutting soon at the rate it is growing. I wonder what it is like to try mowing a lawn that still has snow on it…

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Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2016 at 6:00 am

Meet Tedder

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It’s time to make hay again! I was a bit surprised to receive a message yesterday from our neighbor, George, indicating he was ready to cut hay, it being so soon after the heavy rain we received. Surprised, but thrilled. We are pretty much at his mercy when it comes to getting our field cut and baled; and truly blessed to have him offer his expertise.

George cut the field while I was at work, and then returned in the evening to chat about the plan for the next few days. He also brought over a new attachment he recently bought. Cyndie and I were introduced to the term “tedder,” as in, hay tedder. I quickly went from having never heard the term in my life, to pulling one around with our tractor.

From Wikipedia: A tedder (also called hay tedder) is a machine used in haymaking. It is used after cutting and before windrowing, and uses moving forks to aerate or “wuffle” the hay and thus speed up the process of hay-making. The use of a tedder allows the hay to dry (“cure”) better, which results in improved aroma and color.

Well, there. Now I also know of the word, “wuffle.” This suburban boy has just taken another step farther into the rural farm country.

We walked the field and discovered it was drying up nicely in just one afternoon. The Canadian smoke that was so thick on Monday was followed by breezy, dry air with plenty of sunshine on Tuesday. The dew point temperature felt somewhat fall-like even. That does wonders to speed along the curing of cut hay.

As we walked the field, George commented that it was already good enough to be tossed by the tedder. That was my cue. There was enough light left in the day that I could take on that task. I volunteered, hoping to relieve him of some of the burden he so graciously shoulders to see that we get our hay baled.

DSC04824eCHGeorge provided an accelerated lesson on the tedder itself, and then the process of using it, before sending me on my way to learn by trying. Cyndie brought him a beverage and the two of them stood by the gate and supervised my maiden voyage.

The tedder is a very forgiving attachment which allowed me to play around with my method of navigating our irregularly shaped field. Cyndie became official photographer, once again capturing the momentous occasion of another of my tractor event milestones.

It feels almost natural to me, being behind that wheel, but I tell you, never in my dreams did I picture myself in a field, on a tractor seat, and knowing anything whatsoever about a “tedder” or making hay.

Life is an adventure!

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Written by johnwhays

July 8, 2015 at 6:00 am