Monday, July 18, 2011

Putting Up First Crop

Last week we were able to cut the first crop of hay.  We're so happy to have a 5 acre hay field, seeded in alphafa, clover and canary grass (that's quality feed, right there), that will provide us with enough hay to feed our sheep all winter.  Saves us the worry of having to buy hay at $4 a bale.  That does mean, however, that we get the joy of making hay at least three times every summer, usually in the sweltering heat.  But that's farming, ya'all!!

We watch the clover blossoms to determine when first crop is ready.  Once the blossoms have just opened, we're on.  Then we diligently watch the weather to catch 4-5 days of no rain.  Believe me, this is always the challenge!  If we're confident of a dry stretch, my husband, Hank, heads out with our 1968 Massey Ferguson haybine. Old as she is, she still does a great job at cutting and leaving the hay in neat rows down the field.

Let it dry for a day or two, and then make a trip around the field with the hay rake to turn the rows over, allowing the grass that was on the underside to dry.

Keep your fingers crossed that the rain will hold off a while longer yet...allowing it to dry another day or so, and then the real fun begins!

Leading the charge is Betty, our narrow-front Farmall M.  She's a late 1940s model, as is her sister, Bertha, our wide-front Farmall M tractor with the bucket loader. Betty does most of her work in the hayfields, while Bertha plows snow and drags downed trees out of the back forty.  Here Betty is hooked up to the 1960s New Holland baler, followed by the hay wagon in the back.  

In years past, I've ridden on the wagon, stacking the hay bales as they come off the baler.  But this year, Hank said I needed to learn to drive the tractor (since I need a bit of manual experience for driving my 1950 Ford).  Begrudgingly I climbed into the tractor seat, slide to the front 6inches and put my foot on the clutch.  After a few turns around the field, it wasn't too bad (although I have a tendency to turn this whole wagon train a bit too tightly) and it was much better than riding the wagon.

We made two trips around the field, stacking and unloading the wagon twice.


Here our elevator heads up to the haymow, directing our efforts away from Hank's 1952 Chevy wagon parked underneath.  How he'd love to be working on that project instead!

But when it's all said and done, we have 200 bales waiting for next winter.  Nothing so satisfying as a full barn and an aching back!  And aching feet...and aching shoulders from muscling that steering wheel around...and blisters because all my work gloves have holes in the most obvious places...but still, this is farming!

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  1. Great tractor!! I love it! I always help my neighbors with the haying (as it feeds my pony), which we'll be doing pretty soon, but I'm still on stacking duty. I'm not looking forward to hay rash, but it is a cool photo op, hehe.

  2. Oh that reminds me of life with only two kids. I helped stacking the hay all the time. Now with four it is harder to find a babysitter and we mostly round bale.

  3. I've never seen a hay bine or baler up close so thanks for sharing that. Glad you got dry weather so you were able to get hay finished. I can't believe how much you got out of 5 acres!!

  4. First crop is always the biggest and hardest, just because I have to rediscover all those "hay making" muscles that went soft over winter! lol Hard, sweaty work, but well worth it.

  5. Nothing like "makin hay" (both types...:)! Blessings from Wisonsin!

  6. This is exactly what I do on my grandmother's farm in the summer to me haying is fun and good exercise


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