Thursday, July 17, 2014


Hay is late this year.  As of this morning, my hay field was still standing, uncut.  For the last two months, pretty much since before the field was ready for cutting, our weather forecast has called for rain every second or third day.  We need three good, dry, days for making horse hay.  Four would be even better.

It wasn't just horse hay that hasn't gotten cut on time this season.  All hay has been late in my neck of the woods.  First the farmers (we hire a small, local farmer who lives less than two miles over) had to get their grain crops planted for the year.  Then they had to cut their own hay.  And after that, they do the custom cutting & baling for those of us lacking our own mowing, raking, and baling equipment.  With the long cool spring, no corn got in the ground until about mid-May (corn is usually an April thing around here).  And after corn, the soybeans needed to go in, most of which didn't get started until after Memorial Day.  There was not a single hay field cut before the second week of June, and many of those were destined for cow hay, which can get a little wet.

While I wasn't thrilled with the delay in getting my own hay done, I understood it.  That doesn't mean DH hasn't been driving me crazy, asking just about every day for the past three weeks "When is your hay going to get cut?  Have you heard from your farmer?"

And every time he asked, I had to say "Not in the next three days; it's gonna rain again tomorrow."  Or "Supposed to rain day after tomorrow."  And "No, I haven't heard yet."

Just to make DH happy, I called the farmer yesterday (after I checked the 10-day weather forecast and found the next 7 days to be devoid of precipitation--HOORAY!!).  The farmer confirmed that I am tops on the list for this good spell of weather.  Time to get that horse hay made, while we have a decent forecast, otherwise there might not be a second cutting this year.  Being a month late in getting first cut off the field, if we go into a drought now, which usually happens mid-June through about mid-August, the grass and clover won't rebound enough to cut and bale before we go into the cool, wet fall, when it's about impossible to make horse hay in Michigan.  If the grass isn't long/tall enough, it just doesn't bale well.  Nobody wants bales that fall apart whenever you try to pick them up.

If you haven't guessed by now, horse hay is kind of a picky thing.  Sorta like horse people, a little bit elitist.  (I say tongue-in-cheek, since I have been a horse person for going on thirty years. . .)

This afternoon, shortly after lunch, once last night's heavy dew was good and dried, I rejoiced to hear tractors out on the road.  Now, I hear tractors on the road many times each day, thanks to  a large  and sprawling dairy farm that has acreages all over the neighborhood in about a two mile radius.  The tractors I heard after lunch, however, were different tractors.  And they didn't drive by with a feed wagon, or a manure spreader, or a load of round bales or a silage wagon attached to the back.  Nope, they pulled up my driveway, and into my hay field.  The farmer had brought not one, but two mowers to get my field cut as quickly as possible!

little tractor

bigger tractor

It is amazing the feeling of relief that came over me as I watched the tall grasses fall in rows behind the tractors.  I couldn't help grabbing the camera and taking pictures.  I guess subconsciously I had been doubting this day would ever come; that there would ever be hay taken off my field this year (honestly, DD1 asked me on Tuesday night, when it was raining yet again, if we were just going to brush hog the field since it was all ready the middle of July).  DH's incessant pestering about 'when is your hay going to get cut' hadn't helped dissuade this doubt any.

No, we were not going to 'just brush hog' it.  Definitely not, not now. Not now that the tractors were finally here, finally mowing it down. 

Seven acres of fresh cut hay is a beautiful sight. Even if it isn't primo quality hay by virtue of the slight over maturity of the grass, it is beautiful.  It is feed for my horses this winter.  It is extra bales to sell, hopefully enough extra to cover the cost of what bales I keep.

looking out over the 5 acre 'old' (original) hay field

the two acres of 'new' hay field I planted last year

where the 'old' and the 'new' meet;
the new field is greener, having just recently matured
(I am planning to keep mostly the hay off the new field this year
 and sell as extra the bales from the 'old')

There is still much work to be done, getting about 350 bales hefted into the barn loft for feeding out in the next twelve months (hopefully only eleven months--hay season 2015 surely can't be as wet as 2014 has been).  That will be a long, sweaty, prickly afternoon yet this weekend where tempers will flare and daughters will try to weasel out of helping and DH will ask, about a million times "Have I told you I hate doing hay?"  But once it's done, once those precious bales I need to keep are safely stored indoors, there will be a sense of security that will overcome any blizzard the winter may bring.

The same sense of security DH feels in the fall when we've hauled from the woods, and split and stacked a winter's worth of firewood next to the wood boiler.  Another long, sweaty job where daughters try to be scarce and bickering seems to come as natural as breathing, at least until everyone gets into rhythm and we work as a well-oiled machine.  But at least don't hate doing firewood.  ;0)

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