Hay There

It is summertime, you know. A brand new summer just began June 21st. Yay, baby summer! Yay Baby, summer!

“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Henry James

Henry James was not a farmer. (Was he? No, I don’t think so.)

And, summertime living is not easy on a farm; I’m telling you that. It is work. Hot, sweaty, work. I think wintertime living is easier when you live on a farm. I need to contemplate that a little bit longer, but that’s my gut.

Anyway, it is as hot as blazes here. I see so much RED across the nation’s weather map, I’m guessing it is RED HOT in your neck of the woods too.

Summer at the Farm means making hay.

“Make hay while the sun shines.” I get it now.

Exactly. While the sun shines. Before the rain. Before the night.

We have frequent afternoon thunderstorms in this weather, so making dry hay, which is the only kind to make, is a big challenge in the Blue Ridge Mountains where I live.

We decided to make our own hay this season. We’ve been here 3 years and have always had a hay shortage. Last year’s hay shortage was critical. It didn’t matter how much you were willing to pay. Horse quality hay (which is higher quality than cow or goat hay) was no where to be found. I worried myself silly about providing food for my horses.

And one winter day my husband and I sat in front of the fire, drinking coffee, wondering where we could get hay, we started to wonder why we were in such a hay predicament since we had so much hay field land. So we decided to make our own hay.

photo (3)

And eventually we bought some vintage hay equipment from a farmer.

I found the old hay equipment for sale on craigslist about 2 hours away. We borrowed a trailer from one of our awesome, generous, and kind neighbors. And we headed out with Elvis the Blue (truck) and my Big Teal (truck). We somehow, miraculously, unbelievably, got the following haying implements back home without incident.

  • Sickle mower
  • Tedder
  • Rake
  • Baler

We knew what the mower was for: mowing hay.

And we knew what the baler was for: baling hay.

But the other two were mysteries.

photo (1)

Sp we watched youtube video after youtube video on how to make hay.

This one made me tired just watching it. Check this out.

 

I would call that, “How NOT to make hay.” Whew.

Okay, so anyway.

We have solved the mystery. We have learned a little bit about making hay.

So, you cut the hay and let it sit in the field for about a day. Less than a day if it is hot. Which it is.

Here’s our front hay field, with the hay on the ground.

photo (2)

Oh wait. We interrupt this hay making post to let you know that we broke the sickle mower after the first run. Yes we did. Broke it. So we couldn’t use it.

Now, I’ve told you that I live in a most unusual and wonderful community. Well, one friend and neighbor came and helped us load up the sickle mower and get it to the local farm equipment fix-it guy.

Then another friend and neighbor came and mowed the field FOR US. You read that right. MOWED. THE. HAY. FIELD. FOR. US. Just like that. Without us asking.

Can you believe that????

I continue to stand in awe and amazement at the generosity and kindness of our neighbors. Without them we’d still be out in the middle of that field staring at our broken mower. Lamenting. Going “WHY?” to each other. Going “What were we thinking?” Going “Poor us.” Going “How are we going to get his hay up for our horses?”

But instead of lamenting, we were cheering for that wonderful neighbor who showed up with his big and beautiful tractor and mower– that wasn’t broken. Awesomeness.

So back to the hay. You let it lay there for a bit. Then you flip it and fluff it with the tedder and let it sit for about another day or until fully dry. If moisture comes in, then you have to repeat this step.

P1170761

That’s the neighbor saving us with his “fluffer” or “tedder.” Look at what is coming down the road-a horse-drawn wagon. I can’t believe this place where I live.

photo

Then you hook up the rake to the back of your tractor. The rake takes the hay and puts it in winrows. What are winrows? Those are rows of hay, lined up to be baled. These are my very first winrows. How’d I do? Okay, probably a solid “C” if someone was grading me. I’ll take a C for my first try.

Whoa. I get a “C” in grammar too. It is not winrow. It is windrow. With a d. Wind. Row. I had no idea. I just looked it up!

So, anyway, once the hay is lined up in windrows…

You bale it!

And then you ask local teenagers to come and help you. Because new hay bales are heavy. And you are no spring chicken any more. No, indeedy.

And then, they load it on a hay wagon.

And then, they unload it into your dry, welcoming barn.

And you give them water and brownies. And money. And maybe Mountain Dews. And ice cream sandwiches.

And smile because your barn has some hay in it. And it is only June, the beginning of summer.

And you don’t have to worry about feeding your horses this winter.

Now THAT is living. I realize now that summer afternoon are two wonderful words, Henry James was right.

Somebody pass the sweet tea before I pass out. Did I mention it is hot here? Shoe-weee. Yes, a cold bubble bath sounds lovely right about now.

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl in the Country, Rebekah

 

Leave a comment 14 Comments

  1. Cindy says:

    We have a new hay farm too! Learning too! Hay! We move water! Had to buy wheel lines and the whole kitten ka boodle! Did I spell that right! We also have friends helping us with all the equipment! What fun ! And very HARD work indeed! We are having our hay certified! Better quality!love my farm too! Ours will be going to our horses! Just built the barn! Have a horse I mind already! A beautiful paint named Annie! See ya!Yeeeeehaw! Cindy oh! How did you guys water?

  2. Dori Troutman says:

    Rebekah,

    Good on your for buying your own hay equipment. We have yet to get to that point because we have such an awesome arrangement with our neighbor. Yes, just like one of your awesome neighbors! :-)

    Great minds think alike: http://www.farmgirlbloggers.com/6574 :-)

    Hugs,

    – Dori, the Ranch Farmgirl –

  3. ann says:

    Loved your post — our fields were just recently cut and yielded 46 rolls of “the best hay I’ve ever seen” — that comment from one who knows hay really well and was absolutely thrilled with the yield. That’s the most we’ve ever gotten, next highest being 37 or so. And the fields look so beautiful…such joy! :-)

  4. Cindy says:

    Oh! The video is hilarious! She doesn’t even seem to be breaking a sweat! Really! Omg! Can you imagine getting out there with our hubby’s and doing that! I don’t think so! I would be passed out after the first row! Ha! Later gater! Cindy

  5. Denise Ross says:

    What fabulous people live in your community. :). Team efforts always are the best. And I’m glad you chose to do your own haying this year. How cool are you guys, trying new things and whatever age and stage you’re at, you’re not afraid to live your dream.

  6. Katherine Porterfield says:

    Wow

  7. Diane Van Horn says:

    I don’t think you can be called the “City Farmgirl” anymore!

  8. Rosemary says:

    Rebekah, you are so funny with your wording…I so love to read your posts! You are such a good writer…we feel like we are right there with you experiencing all this…it sounds like you truly do live in a wonderful place indeed…blessings to you! :)

  9. Dorothy says:

    We are always amazed at how the farming community pulls together. Some of the greatest people in the world. Not afraid of hard work or helping others.

  10. bonnie ellis says:

    Wow, I remember those hot days of haying. But I no longer need to do that and today Minnesota is in the 70s. A real dream. I love your posts. I will sit on this summer afternoon and think of you with hay in the barn. Neighbors are awesome.

  11. Joan says:

    I recognize the video work being done – did some when I was young – had a smaller field, than the big field, that the equipment couldn’t get to easily – so out we went, glad you and others don’t have to do it that way but jeepers it was kind of fun and very rewarding. So glad to see you are putting your land to good use. Thanks for sharing. God bless. P.S. we’re hot too and had at least 10 tornadoes in the area along with lots of flooding – BEAUTIFUL so far today.

  12. Rachann says:

    I love the smell of hay! I grew up on a large indiana farm and them moved to maryland…..I still miss the smell of hay. Check out the biceps on those gals….no gym time for them!

  13. Mary Rauch says:

    You are a true Alice-in-Wonderland living the joy of the most wonderful sounding neighbors I could ever imagine. Makes your faith in mankind restored. That picture with the horse-drawn wagon and the tractor both in the same scene is just too precious.
    I am very sad to hear about your shingles. I would not wish that on anyone. Prayers you will heal swiftly.

  14. Amanda says:

    I love that making hay where you live doesn’t seem like so much of a chore. It seems really enjoyable there! Here in the Mid-Atlantic, we’ve been waiting to put up hay. And waiting… and waiting… I’ve heard rain in May is a full barn of hay, but no one said anything about more rain in June! Just this past week we finally had three straight days of no rain so we all HUSTLED to do what we could!! And, now it’s raining AGAIN! All the men do the fieldwork with big equipment when it comes to making hay. But, when the wagons get to the barn, it’s all girl power from there(except for my husband, because he’s the biggest brute around!). The hay unloaders are his aunt, three of his female cousins and our oldest daughter. His cousins are teenagers and our daughter is nine.They are all athletes so this is conditioning over the summer for the fall sports season. Our daughter is a competitive gymnast, so she puts in four hours of training in the morning and then helps unload. She says unloading is easier!! I only help out when they are shorthanded. I’m on the smaller side and hay bales and I tend to weight close to the same amount. Go ahead, call me a wuss, it’s ok! I’m better at keeping the unloaders fed and hydrated! And, not to freak you out, but last year we had so many snakes in the bales and found them when we were unloading!! Just a heads up! Anyway, I love the views you have at your farm, and I wish you perfect hay-making weather!

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