Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘hay-field

Focus Shift

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I started the day yesterday with our Stihl power trimmer working primarily along the hay-field fence line out by the road. With the field freshly cut, the strip of tall grass along the fence stood out in obvious need of attention. It looks so nice when that is cleaned up.

After the first tank of gas was used up, I walked back to the shop to stretch my legs out and refill the tank. While there, I took a little break to answer nature’s call at the base of a pine tree and noticed a vine growing up from deep inside the tangle of branches. Thinking I should tend to the situation in the moment instead of waiting until it was out of sight/out of mind, I fetched a saw from the shop and braved the thick web of poking limbs, slithering into the shadow world beneath the tree.

From that vantage point, I discovered there were many more than just the one obvious vine growing into the heights. As I worked my way around the circumference of that tree, I came to another right beside it with even more unwelcome intruders climbing up its branches.

After the second tree, I moved on to a third, and a fourth, soon recognizing that this side project could consume the rest of my day if I let it.

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The remaining trees can wait. I went back to trimming the tall grass along the edges of the hay-field.

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2020 at 6:00 am

This Happened

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In the realm of pictures being worth a thousand words, I can provide two pictures that clearly depict two things that happened yesterday afternoon.

We had a couple of visitors. One welcome, the other, not so much.

The hay fields were cut and a couple of young raccoons were out and about on a daytime explore that brought them into close proximity to Cyndie and her dog down by the labyrinth.

All sorts of activity around us in the midst of sheltering in place from rising numbers of cases of COVID-19 being reported.

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Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2020 at 9:42 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

Ample Windrows

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Making the first cut of our fields for hay this late in the summer provides a benefit of windrows looking very robust. When we got home from the lake on Sunday, both our hay-field and the back pasture were cut. Yesterday, Jody raked the cuttings into rather buxom windrows.

The result was a gorgeous scene to behold.

This afternoon he will bale. We are going to store a wagon load in our almost filled hay shed and he will take the rest.

If we could rely on him being able to cut our fields every year, we could probably get away with not buying any hay from our other sources.

I don’t know if he would be as motivated to help us if he wasn’t getting some bales out of the deal, so it’s not a guaranteed plan, but it’s an enticing dream to ponder.

Walking our property last night was an immersion in a quintessential country summer evening. The air was thick with a potpourri of aromas from wild plants and cultivated crops approaching their peak. Songbirds, frogs, and crickets provided a steady humming soundtrack for the hours on both sides of the sunset.

With the air calm, there was little else moving to muddy the sound.

The temperature was warm and perfectly humid, well short of feeling uncomfortable. It was the kind of day to burn into our deepest memories, hoping to make it available again for the depths of the cruelest days that winters regularly dish out.

Locally grown sweet corn is starting to show up and the watermelon is once again flavorful. County fairs are in full swing.

With a seeming emphasis, yet an inviting ease, it smells, tastes, and sounds like we are smack dab in the thickest part of summer.

Might as well throw some more bales of hay.

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Written by johnwhays

July 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

Incremental Headway

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Baby steps.

With visual progress toward our goal of getting our hay-field cut underway, we are experiencing a noticeable easing of stress carried in our bodies and on our minds. I wish it were enough to offset the ongoing feelings of dread over the bizarre happenings lately with the leader of our country bashing our allies and being overly friendly with despots.

Our Homeland Security touts the mantra that if we see something, we should say something. Um, we are all seeing it, and plenty of people are saying something. Why can’t anyone stop this ongoing governmental train wreck underway?

I try to compartmentalize, in order to carry on with my immediate world of influence without being entirely distracted by the national despondency, but I’m not fooling many people with my feeble attempts.

Seeing the three measly cut rows of our field being baled was a sweet minor victory for us. It looks so much better than the weedy field it was becoming.

Then we walked back up to the house and I spotted this:

The siding is sagging on our bird house.

I kind of like the look. It gives it added character.

But, in that moment, it felt like the teeter-totter of our experiences had just flipped from hopeful to gloomy in way too short a time.

Really? Even the bird house is falling apart?

I blame it on the sorry state of our government.

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Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2018 at 6:00 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

Field Open

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The weather forecast for our area indicates we are in a stretch of dry, sunny days that could last a week. If we had hay to cut and bale, this would be a good time. Instead, we have a freshly mowed field that, yesterday, we opened to the horses for grazing.

For all the times they indicated a strong interest in getting out on that grass, I had visions of them racing out into the big space, jumping and kicking with glee. Cyndie asked me if I wanted to film the moment, but I seemed to know better.

I murmured that the horses would probably step out of the paddock gate and stand right there to munch.

Lo, and behold, they did pretty much that. I encouraged Hunter to join me in a run out into the wide open space, but he didn’t take the bait.

They stood in what we call the alley way, the space between the paddocks and the arena, and meandered aimlessly while chomping away. I moved a wheelbarrow around the paddock and cleaned up manure while they grazed. Eventually, I spotted Dezirea and Hunter had made their way just beyond the previous border, but they had turned to face in toward me and the other horses, appearing to intentionally turn their backs on the promised land.

You can lead horses to the open field they so badly craved, but they will decide when to take advantage of it.

When Cyndie went out this morning to serve up their tiny portions of nutrition feed, she said there was no manure under the overhang. They stayed out in the field all night long.

They got what they wanted, just on their own time.

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Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2017 at 8:43 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Candle, Burning

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Ends, both.

I’m gaining some sense of what life is like for a lot of the farmers around here. Most of them whom we have come to know have non-farming jobs in addition to the crop and livestock work they do.

My day-job has gotten so intense, I’m puttin’ in hours today, even though it’s Friday, a day I don’t usually go in. At the same time, our ranch work is peaking, with the unbelievable spring growth about doubling the size of green things every two days.

The second I got home on Wednesday, I hopped on the borrowed John Deere lawn tractor and struggled till dusk to knock down the too long and too thick grass that hadn’t been cut since the old Craftsman engine popped a gasket two weeks ago.

Yesterday, same routine, different tractor. I walked in the door from work, stripped off the clean clothes and donned the grubs to crank up the brush cutter on the diesel. It was dry enough to cut the hay-field. Not for hay, but for the sake of mowing down weeds before they can mature.

We plan to mow that field short all summer long, hoping to give the grass a better chance at beating out the weeds. It’s a simple method that we have chosen in place of applying chemical weed killers. Just requires a little more patience, and an alternate source of hay bales for a year. We think we have both.

What I don’t have is, enough sleep.

Luckily, I’ve got incredible support from Cyndie, the energizer bunny. She is doubling her efforts to tend to the trimming up and down fence lines, while caring for all the animals, maintaining the labyrinth, buying supplies, Avenging poison ivy, watering and feeding our transplanted maple tree, and keeping me indescribably well fed.

Speaking of caring for our animals, I caught a picture of her the other day, giving Legacy a massage. That was about the same time I spotted the chickens hanging out on the bottom board of the paddock fence.

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That’s all I have time for. There’s work to be done!

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Written by johnwhays

June 2, 2017 at 6:00 am

Winter Like

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It is looking much more winter like around here this morning. I’d guess we received over twice the amount of snow overnight than had been predicted when I went to bed. It will be a nuisance to clear because the ground isn’t frozen yet. Plowing and shoveling require extra care to avoid digging up more than just snow when clearing pathways.

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Delilah made quick work of capturing a mole that thought it was safe relying on snow cover for concealment. Our dog smelled right through that blanket.

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The horses chose a perch out in the hay-field to experience the overnight accumulation. They looked so inviting that Delilah and I cut through the pasture to go out and stand with them for a bit.

When we headed for the barn to serve up the morning feed, the horses chose not to follow. If Cyndie wasn’t house-bound, I’d ask her to go ask them what was up. I have no idea what their motivation was in staying out of the paddock, where their water supply and shelter are available. img_1839e

I put out their pans of feed and the three chestnuts showed a lot of energy that led me to believe they might all head in, but Legacy never gave them the ‘okay’ to proceed. I walked down to the gate opening to the hay-field and invited them in, but to no avail.

Their choice. I left the pans out and cleared snow from the doorways and then headed in for breakfast. The chore list is looking very winter-like for the rest of the day. I’m going to need the fuel.

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Written by johnwhays

December 4, 2016 at 11:23 am

Weeds Begone

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It took twice as long as I expected to finish cutting down the 4 acres we call our hay-field yesterday, but I was trying to do a very thorough job of removing the primary invader, Queen Anne’s Lace from sight. The biennial crop is the most visible evidence that we aren’t growing high quality grass hay out there yet.IMG_iP1562e

There is some grass there, and it has become obvious to us from the regular mowing we have done around the labyrinth and along the fence lines, that doing so will help the grasses and hurt the weeds.

Right now, we are thinking about just keeping this mowed short for a full year. We may have some additives applied to the soil, and add desireable grass seed over the top, before getting back to baling it again the year after.

The project was almost over before I had even completed the first pass along the fence line. For no apparent reason the shear bolt suddenly gave out and the blades stopped cutting.

We had waited the entire summer to have this field cut, and when it didn’t happen any other way, we decided to finally just chop it down ourselves. This interruption had me wondering if maybe we were making the wrong decision, but I had a replacement bolt and it was an easy fix, so I didn’t let that problem stop me for long.

When it became clear that it was going to take all afternoon to complete the task, Cyndie was kind enough to bring me lunch in the field. It felt just like farming!

When I got to the last little strip to be mowed, I wanted to include Cyndie in the moment of achievement. She was serving the horses their evening feed at the barn, so I whistled to get her attention as I was lining the tractor up for the final cut.

IMG_iP1565eCHShe heard the second of my shrill chirrups, and was looking to ascertain whether I was in need of her assistance while I was backing into position. I was intending to point out that it would be the last pass and I just wanted her to share in the joy of accomplishment, when the blades of the mower started clattering on a rock I hadn’t noticed.

The sound of mower blades hitting obstacles always tends to create a panic response. I stomped on the clutch and lifted the mower. My big moment of victory was dashed by a dose of humble pie. In a comical turn, now she did think something was wrong.

She hollered something to me, but I couldn’t hear her words over the rat-tat-tat of the diesel engine idling. After several fruitless tries, we walked toward each other until I heard she was asking if I had my camera with me so she could capture the moment.

We laughed over the fact I hadn’t hit a single thing all day, but just as I was hoping to get her attention, …clank. I had already mowed over that rock without incident in the other direction. Backing across it on the slope was a different story.

She took the pictures of my final successful pass.

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Did you see that bird she captured in the last shot? It looks as happy as me over having our field freshly cut.

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Written by johnwhays

August 6, 2016 at 9:13 am