They came and cut it on Tuesday, and the weather forecast for the next four days was just glorious: sun, breezy, low humidity. Perfect hay-drying weather. The only hitch was that Tuesday afternoon, DD1 and her high school softball team played in the state Quarter-finals. They won 9-3, and DD1 batted in 3 of those 9 runs.
What sweet victory! Perfect haymaking weather, and DD1 making it back to State Semi-finals at the end of her senior year. Elation quickly turned to panic though, as realization set it: Semi's were the same day that my hay would be ready to bale.
Even with having the cutting, raking, and baling hired out, my family still had the hard work of putting the hay up in the barn. Having all of us gone to the Semi's on the afternoon hay would be baled was not a good thing.
Dilemma. What do I do? I couldn't risk leaving the hay down, it would at best bleach out and lose nutritional value as it waited to be baled. At worst, rain would return early and ruin the whole crop. On the other hand, I couldn't very well skip the semi's and not watch DD1 play what could be her very last high school softball game in order to put up hay. Besides, I couldn't throw hay into the loft, and stacking it downstairs by myself would take forever. Not to mention that I lose the first layer when I stack hay downstairs, even on pallets. No, I wanted my hay up in the loft where it had better airflow, less moisture and wasn't going to mold.
I talked to the guys doing my hay. Would they be willing to stack it in the loft for me--oh by the way, my elevator's broken--for an extra charge per bale? Or could they possibly round up enough wagons that they could leave full wagons in my field for me to unload Saturday morning? Or, did they think that possibly the hay might be dry enough to bale Thursday?
We consulted. They consulted their parents (my 'hay guys' are two twenty-somethings my sons played high school soccer with, recently branching out from doing hay with their family to doing custom baling on their own). They tedded the hay Thursday mid-morning. We looked at the hay. Some would be ready to bale that afternoon, but the thicker windrows that had a higher clover content needed another day of drying.
We planned to bale what we could Thursday around four p.m. The rest they would come back and bale Friday, leaving me up to three wagons, but I would have to unload them myself Saturday.
I thanked them profusely for being willing to work around my schedule. Then I did what any person who wanted to stay sane would do: I put an ad on Craigslist for hay out of the field at a reduced price (but still enough to cover my custom baling costs). I only need about a third of my first cutting hay to feed my own animals, so selling the rest out of the field not only would save me the trouble of putting up hay I don't need, but it covers a large part of the expense of having the hay done.
That evening, DH, DD2 and I put 40 bales up in the loft, and sold 96 off the only wagon to get filled that day.
my view from the wagon as DH towed it to the barn
Friday morning, I got another response from my Craigslist ad, a lady who wanted about 200 bales. I told her she could come pick them up Saturday morning (because if DD1's team won semi's they'd be playing in the Finals Saturday late afternoon, 1 1/2 hours away from this little place here).
Friday afternoon, we went to Semi-Finals. DD1's team won; DD1 batting in the winning run. School history was made: our softball program had never made it past Semi-finals before (they've been to Semi's only two other times--DD1's freshman year and sophomore year, she's been on varsity her entire high school career). We would be playing in the state Finals the next day. At this little place here, we'd be hustling our buns in the morning to unload the rest of the hay I needed, and sell the remainder.
It all worked out. DH threw the rest of the bales I needed into the loft on Saturday morning. Right after we'd finished that task, the lady buying the remainder of my hay arrived. Her husband and son loaded bales while she and I conducted business. Cash changed hands. Between the hay I'd sold Thursday night and her purchase Saturday morning, I only had to come up with $58.30 out of my pocket to cover the cost of the custom baling (so, about 38 cents a bale for what I kept!).
And the State Finals game? DD1's team won it, defeating the team who had beat them two years ago at Semi's and who had reigned as State Champions for the past two years.
Perfect hay at a spectacular price per bale, and seeing my daughter become a State Champion in softball: Priceless.