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

Posts Tagged ‘raking hay

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

Baling Hay

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It was an epic day focused on hay yesterday, and the weather was ideal. We probably could have cut one day out of the process, but some of the bales might have bordered on still having too much moisture in them, so waiting allowed me to work the day-job on Thursday and then pack the bulk of the work of baling in about 12-hours of effort yesterday.

I started the work in the morning using George’s rake behind our tractor to create the windrows. My skills, and thus, confidence, were much higher than last year, but I still haven’t figured out the ideal pattern for our irregularly shaped field. DSCN3642eIt took me until half way through the job to discover I was making it harder on myself by dragging the rake along the previous windrow. If my steering is off the tiniest bit, the rake will catch the row I just created and mess it up.

If I simply rake from the other direction, I am raking the untouched grass with a clean space between me and the previous row. That provides much more room for normal variations. Duh!

While waiting for George to arrive with the baler, I hustled to move the remaining bales from last year that were stored on the right side of the hay shed, in order to make room for the new bales we were about to create. Hustling to exert yourself is not really well-advised when you have a long day of effort ahead on a hot summer day. I think I threw myself out of balance, probably getting too hot while also still trying to figure out a reduced-sugar diet. Getting the right sugar balance is proving to be a challenge for me.

When George arrived, he mentioned that he had forgotten to grease the baler, so I volunteered to hoof it back to my garage to get my grease gun. After that long, hurried walk, while chatting and watching him hit the multitude of grease fittings, I felt myself growing sicker and sicker. DSCN3646eI got light-headed and nauseous. It took almost too much effort to walk all the way back to the house after he started baling, where I could cool off and taking in some sugar and fluids —which was a challenge since I was also fending off the nausea.

I never really felt fully back on top of my game, but recovered enough to function and returned to help with the hardest part of all: tossing bales. Cyndie stepped up heroically and moved more heavy bales than I could believe, heaving them around to unload the wagon while I stacked them in the shed.

We weren’t able to unload fast enough to get the wagon back out to George by the time he could have used it, so he just let the last bunch of bales lay on the ground and we drove out to pick them up at the end. I haven’t counted yet, as we finished after dark last night, but I think we got another high yield off our little plot.

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George graciously returned after needing to rush home to feed his animals, and helped us stack bales in our shed to get them off the wagons. Cyndie served up dinner for us all around 10:00 p.m. and we got a chance to celebrate the huge effort of summer: putting up hay that will feed our horses all winter.

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Written by johnwhays

July 11, 2015 at 8:46 am

Never Dreamed

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A few years ago, I had no clue about how much my life experience would be changing by the middle of the year 2014. Yesterday was the culmination of a possibility that bloomed after we bought our new property in the fall of 2012. I found myself out driving my tractor in our field, pulling a rake to create windrows for baling hay. What a kick. A very humbling kick that I never dreamed I would be experiencing.

DSC03238eFor the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to make this raking work the way I wanted. My instructions from George were pretty basic, and he rode with me as guide for about two passes, before heading home to trim some horses. He’s a farrier, you know. One big challenge with the rake he brought over is that you aren’t able to back up, and it keeps raking while you reach the end of the field and have to turn around before the fence.

Turning around was a trick, and the goal of creating straight, single rows repeatedly evaded me. It will take a few tries to figure out how to manage the shape of this field. Ed, the man who cut it for us last week, had never been on the field before and just picked a pattern which suited him. George and I started down one fence line and then he suggested I just continue that line, but it ended up putting me across many of the rows Ed had cut.

The result of my “student driving” exercise made for a pretty crazy sight, but George was kind and soldiered ahead with his baler to make it work, despite many areas where the hay had been tumbled into piles instead of rows.DSCN2123e

The problem with the piles is that they would plug the intake and George would have to stop and climb down to pull grass out or kick the piles into place as prevention.

We both feel our system will improve as we figure out an optimum way to work the odd shape of this field. There is more to it, though, than just the irregular shape, because it is also not flat. Navigating up that hill becomes an increasing challenge as the hay wagon gets heavier and heavier with bales.

As always, needing the field to be dry enough to work is a primary factor.  George got stuck several times, and I needed to push the back of the hay wagon with my tractor to get him moving again. The one that surprised me most was on higher ground, where his back wheels sunk into what must be a ground spring where water pushes up near the surface. It seems like an illogical location for a soft spot.

Now, after days of stacking purchased hay in our shed, we have two more wagons full of bales that need to be stacked. It is a LOT of work, but it is a labor of love.

Especially for the horses. They love having us stock piling all these bales where they can see and smell them.

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Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2014 at 8:13 am