Make Hay While The Sun Shines!

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Having lived my entire life “out West” where hay was something you drove a long ways to buy (and paid a premium price for) it is still a novelty to me to live here in the South where we have our very own hay field!  We’ve had a lot of hot and humid days already this summer and the hay has been growing right before our eyes!

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Maybe it won’t interest you, or maybe it is just commonplace to you,  but I still find the whole hay harvesting thing very interesting.  So I decided to share the process with you today!  We are incredibly lucky that we are able to have our hay taken care of by a local couple and they do it for a certain percentage of the hay crop.  Which works great for us, as we don’t need all of it anyway.

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I walked down to the hay pasture with my camera and tried to capture, in pictures, what an incredibly interesting job this is!  These are the blades of the mower up close. They look a whole lot different than our bush hog!

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When the field is cut, it looks like this. It is rather interesting as it cuts the grass hay and then just lays it over.  It is completely different than what it would like if it was mowed.

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Then next is the tether machine. It picks up the hay and throws it around til it lands on the ground in a sporadic manner. This allows it to get better air circulation which helps in the curing or drying of the hay.   I didn’t manage to get pictures of this piece of equipment in motion.

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At this point it is really important that the hay doesn’t get wet – I’m always impressed by how well they time the cutting of the hay! This first cutting this spring was done after 3 weeks of good heat and growing time… and 2 days before the rains hit!

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After it is properly dried then they come back with the hay rake and they rake it into nice long parallell rows called windrows. It is really interesting to watch how the rakes bring the hay together into a nice row.

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I think the windrows are beautiful.

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The hay rake is a very interesting piece of equipment.  I love the rakes – I think they would be very cool yard art!

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Then along comes the baler just gobbling up those perfect windrows of hay.  Instead of a series of pictures, here is a little video of the hay baler in motion!  There must be some electronic device that lets the baler operator know when the bale is finished as he stops his tractor and sits a few seconds while the baling twine is wrapped around the bale, and then all of a sudden the door opens and the bale rolls out.  I never tire of watching it.  My grand-girls were with me and they loved it.

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Once the whole field is baled they put these hay spears on both the front and back of the tractor. This allows them to pick up and carry two bales at a time. They take them up out of the field where they stack them next to the tree line for us.

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Big, beautiful rolls of hay and two more cuttings to go this summer.

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There is such a fun excitement that we feel in seeing those hay bales all lined up and ready for storing.  And our grand-girls?  They love playing on them (and so does Belle)!

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This was the first summer my littlest grand-girl had the courage to jump the bales!  I actually caught her in action!

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So what do you think… am I crazy how much I love our hay?  Or is that a normal Farmgirl thing?

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Until our gravel roads cross again… so long.

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Dori

Leave a comment 32 Comments

  1. Debbie says:

    Great post, Dori! Your as normal as any other farmgirl who loves hay and is curious about all things FARM! Great shot of your grand girls ‘ jumping the bales” and I have to agree… the hay rake looks like a beautiful piece of sculpture. Thanks for sharing your fun farmgirl life with us from the ranch!
    Hugs,
    Deb

  2. Bonnie Ellis says:

    Fascinating! Thanks for getting up close and personal with the process. Your grand girls are having a blast. It brings back memories. My uncle used per herons for far work. Just think of how much easier he would have it today.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Bonnie,

      Can you just imagine the amount of work that went into baling hay back in our parents and grand-parents day? It is mind boggling to even understand it.

      Thank you for following along and commenting!

      – Dori –

  3. kim says:

    Very interesting I love learning how it is accomplished, even though I see it here in our neck of the woods all the time; Ive never understood the entire process. Thanks for sharing. Oh and the grandkids jumping the bales, looks like fun! Best, Kim

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Kim,

      I think that seeing something done on your own farm just makes it all the more interesting! :-)

      Jumping those bales is very fun. A little itchy, but fun!

      Thanks for writing!

      – Dori –

  4. Joan says:

    Crazy like all farmgirls!! I’m not on a farm any more but your pictures bring back the joy, smell of haying time – although in my day the bales were way smaller and we had to pick them up by hand and stack them by hand – ahhh isn’t progress wonderful. I have seen the used hay rack tines used as art – hung on the side of a out building and painted like a sun, looked very nice. I love and miss your area, so thanks for sharing a bit of it today. God bless.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Joan,

      Yes, they’ve really got the big heavy bales now. You can’t even push them, they are so heavy.

      Oh, those tines would make an awesome sun!!! I love that.

      Thanks for reading and for commenting!

      – Dori –

  5. krista says:

    I started growing hay on a small 5 acre borrowed piece of land here in California three years ago. I love everything about the process. On the good years, I sell extra bales I don’t need for the year and use the money to buy my own haying equipment. I am now up to 4 implements that I bought from farm auctions and local farmers that have upgraded to newer pieces. I love learning how to fix them up and paint them in my signature colors of turquoise and grey. (Thats the farm girly side of me)!!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Krista,

      What an awesome way to get your hay equipment… one piece at a time. We are in that decision making dilemma on whether we should purchase our own, or stick with the arrangement we have now.

      And have you seriously painted them turquoise and grey? Email me pictures! redfeedsack@gmail.com

      Thanks for writing!

      – Dori –

  6. Nicole Christensen says:

    Dori,
    Love it! Fun! I love the action shot of your sweet grandgirls and pup. I don’t know about you, but there’s just something beautiful to me about seeing a hay bale in a field. Maybe it’s my country girl roots. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole (Suburban Farmgirl)

  7. Susabelle says:

    Maybe it would interest you that here “out west,” I get to watch the haying process too, and it is done MUCH more quickly than the midwest. I live in a somewhat rural town just east of the Rockies in northern Colorado (40 miles from Denver). They cut, toss, push into rows, and scoop up for bailing oftentimes all in one day! It is so dry here generally (although not this year) that they can do it this fast. It is rare that you see a field that has been cut and tossed and left for days to dry. They can cut the same field four or five times in a season if there is enough heat. We mostly see the rectangular hay bales being done here, although some do the round ones as well!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Susabelle,

      When we lived “out west” we purchased hay for our horse, and it was the small rectangular bales. The hay was trucked in from a good distance away so I never had the opportunity to see how it was done. But, I can certainly see how it could be done in a day as dry as it is. With the humidity here in Tennessee it can take a day for it to dry. We don’t typically get five cuttings but sometimes we get four. But then, I do think possibly the grass is different here and is cut when it is much taller. I guess I need to ask about that! :-) Thanks for writing!

      -Dori –

  8. Lorrie MacKenzie says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this. I always wondered how that worked.

  9. Denise Ross says:

    Thanks so much for sharing the pics, explanations and video of making hay. I’ve never known how it’s all done before, i find it all very interesting. The photos of your grand girls playing in the bales with mid flight photos are fantastic. Thanks so much. :)

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Denise,

      I got lucky on those mid-flight photos! :-) They are fun though! Thanks for reading along.

      – Dori –

  10. Maxine says:

    I love watching the hay process (especially the baler) in the fields next to our place. Last year was a great year, I think they got 5 cuttings. This year–well, we’re having too much rain to do that well–at least so far! I remember a few times when I was still fairly young getting to drive the tractor while my dad picked up bales! (the smaller rectangle ones–and by hand!)

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Max,

      Wow, the rain has been incredible hasn’t it? We had about 3 weeks of NO rain and now it’s not stopping. We went to Florida for a week and believe it or not, we only had a couple afternoons of rain.

      Can you believe I’ve never really driven a tractor? I mean, I have, but only to move it down the road for Eldon. As a little girl I sat on my Grand-dad’s lap a lot while he was driving but that is it.

      Thanks for writing!

      Hugs – Dori –

  11. Pat says:

    Ah, that is truly wonderful and I’m so glad you can live your dream. But in all the posts I was looking for someone to say something about: the fragrance of newly mown hay.
    When I was in high school we lived near a farm that would cut its hay and then put it into the rectangle-bales. As soon as I got off the school bus to walk home (yes, we were not deposited at our door! lol) I could breathe in the wonderful, sweet, sweet aroma of that newly mown hay. There is nothing like it…
    And how wonderful you can have your grand babies there to share this.
    My own grandparents were “poor dirt farmers” on both sides and I will never forget going to their farms and loving it! : ) I never wanted to back to town!! They didn’t have hay but the farms around them did. I can remember walking to a friend’s house and being surrounded by that utter lovely fragrance.

    My beloved aunt’s name was Dori… ( full name was Deloria)

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Pat,

      Oh yes. The smell of freshly cut hay. Isn’t it heavenly? I can’t believe I left that out! :-)

      As for my name. I was named “Michelle”. My parents brought me home from the hospital and never could call me Michelle; Mom said it just didn’t fit. In the mean time my Aunt Doris was coming over every day to see me and started calling me “Little Dori” and it stuck. When I was a few months old my parents legally changed my name to Dori! My Aunt Doris (I call her Aunt Doitie) and I have always been very close. The name definitely fits (have you seen the movie Finding Nemo with the forgetful fish named Dori?!) and I can’t imagine my name being Michelle.

      – Dori –

  12. Vivian Monroe says:

    Hey Dori, we don’t do any haying ourselves, but while living here in NC, we noticed all the farms around us do their haying Memorial day weekend. Usually I notice they have cut it during the week prior, and then by Mem day weekend, it is baled up and we see it moving down the road sometimes. :) Love it, and love the pics of your dog and grandgirls playing on the bales. at home I had farmers for neighbors that would supply me with bales, square and round whichever I needed for my seasonal decor out by the road., Christmas tree made out of stacking bales, and decorated, easter basket made out of stacking bales, then grapevines weaved and made into large handle, with giant eggs sticking out of bales., one Christmas, huge manger scene made, and thanksgiving large turkey made with an old pallet cut up and boards painted bright colors for tail feather. :)I had the best neighbors in La.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Vivian,

      Some people are so creative with the hay bales. I would love to see pictures of your Holiday hay bale decorations! I’ve done a Fall display from the small rectangular straw bales, but that is it. I’ve seen folks do some amazing things with the big round bales. In front of our John Deere dealer they make a tractor out of large round bales, painting green and black. It was amazing. Maybe it’s time for me to get my creative thinking cap on! :-)

      – Dori –

  13. Esther George says:

    When I see a field of baled hay it makes me want to stop and take a picture, I can’t think of anything more “country”! I’m wondering, where do you store your hay bales during the winter? Your grand girls are having so much fun and Belle is loving it too!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Esther,

      Right now we carefully stack our hay bales and store in the shelter of the woods. BUT! The good news is that Eldon will be building a hay barn this Fall! Yay! :-)

      – Dori –

  14. Karen(old cowgirl) Montoya says:

    Hi my favorite friend,
    I love looking at my swag on the window so beautiful.
    My Father wrote down some of his memories from when he and his older Brother worked the Summers for the Grandfather on his ranch and also their Father’s. One of the things they did at that time was loose hay on huge wagons drawn by horses. He said they had to carry a pistol as in one day they would kill anywhere from 50 to 100 rattle snakes a day besides and that is besides raking and throwing the cut hay on to the moving wagon. Things are so much easier now. I worked a Summer on a ranch during the haying time when they had 15 men that went from ranch to ranch doing the haying and bailing. I worked in the house helping to cook (learning) and setting the table for each meal. We got up at 2 am to serve breakfast at 4:30 am. So the men could get out to the fields before it got to hot. We would no sooner finish with breakfast than we had to get lunch ready. We even put up lunch’s to be taken out to those that did not or could not stop to come in. I learned a lot. I was so greatfull for the opportunity.
    Hugs to you and yours,
    Kay

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hello Kay!

      I’m so happy the bunting works in your window of your temporary new place! Hope you’re settled in and doing well?

      Those rattlesnake stories just make me so sick because on the Ranch that my mother was raised on in the boot hill of New Mexico (and the Ranch that she and my Dad now own) and the place we grew up working and playing… there were rattlesnakes everywhere. I can still hear my grandmother say whenever we stepped foot out the door “Honey, wear your boots and watch for snakes”. It is amazing that none of us ever got snake-bit. They are still a terrible problem there and my Mom has some real horror stories she tells of the size of some of them. Okay, time to change the subject!!!! :-)

      Hugs back to you and thanks for writing! I’m always so happy to hear from you!

      – Dori –

  15. Cindy says:

    Great post! Loving the farm life too! Can’t imagine how hard the old time farmers had to work! Soo country! Love the large bales! Your granddaughters look like their having a ball ! And your dog too! We have a alfalfa damn too! In Idaho! This will be our very first cut next month! We are so excited! Take care,Cindy

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Cindy,

      I can’t even begin to imagine putting up hay the way did in days gone by. They sure knew how to work.

      Let me know how many bales you get off your first cut! It is so very exciting.

      Thanks for writing.

      – Dori –

  16. Cindy says:

    Oops! Spelled farm wrong! Ha!

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