Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hay Window

Typically, in my part of Michigan, hay is ready to cut for the first time each year around Memorial Day weekend. That is the point at which the hay has formed seed heads and is at it's nutritional peak; and any 3-4 day stretch of dry weather between then and by mid-June means the farmers will be out making hay.

Wouldn't you know, Memorial Day weekend is right when our unusually rainy weather began: rain every second or third day week after week.

A few brave/desperate farmers cut hay during a forecasted 2.5-3 day dry spell at the beginning of June; only to have to bale non-quite dry hay on the morning of the third day, racing to fill wagons and pull them under cover before the heavy rain showers that arrived early, or let their hay lie in the field getting rained on repeatedly for another two weeks before getting a chance to bale it dry.

Early June came, and went, without an opportunity to put up good hay.  Mid June came and went, without an opportunity to put up good hay.  Late June came and almost went, when right at the end of the month the weather suddenly turned favorable for hay making for a good five days straight.  All the farmers went wild, rushing to the fields, tractors pulling haybines as fast as they could.  Everything else was dropped, because our hay window had finally arrived, and no one wanted to miss it!  It seemed like every hayfield for miles and miles around was shorn in the same two-day period.

And then everyone was raking, and tedding, and baling, and unloading wagons in order to fill them up again, all at once also.

That much desired, much awaited, hay window happened at the tail end of DH and my (sorta) vacation.  As we were getting back from taking K3 for one last walk on the beach, one last sand castle building time, one last playing in the ocean waves, I received a text from home.

Your hay is mowed.

And a light shone down from heaven, and the angels sang, and a huge weight came off my shoulders as I knew I'd have hay to feed my horses for the coming year.

Honestly, that's what happened.  Right there in a condo full of dirty clothes waiting to be stuffed back into suitcases, and wet bathing suits draped over the balcony railing in the evening sun, and a 3 yr old asking for a snack.  Heavenly light, angel song, burden lifted.  I have hay down, with a perfect weather forecast for drying.  And I'd be home before it was baled.

Yikes.  All that hay would be getting baled the afternoon after DH, K3 and I would return home.  The same afternoon I would need to wash over a week's worth of laundry, get everything else unpacked and put away, and had kind of hoped to relax a bit would be the same afternoon hay wagons would need to be unloaded into the barn.  120+ bales per wagon.  Probably five wagonsful: my field averages 100 bales per acre for first cutting. There would be no rest for the wicked (me), not with hay to put up.

Thankfully, there was a section of my hayfield about two acres in size that had heavier clover and thus needed more drying time.  Which meant that on Sunday afternoon (the afternoon I had planned to take it easy after spending Saturday waking up at 3:30 a.m. to drive 16 hours home with a 3 yr old in the backseat), we only had to put 3 wagon loads--equalling 396 bales--of hay into the barn. The other 230ish bales weren't baled until Monday evening, so didn't have to be dealt with until then.

And then the rains returned Monday night and we've been in a wet pattern ever since.  Which means that my hayfield is rebounding well and should make a good second cutting later this summer.  Provided we get another hay window at the right time.

Meanwhile, I have about 400 square bales of nice dry grass/clover hay for sale if you know anyone in mid-Michigan who's looking for some good first-cutting horse hay.

my 'extra' hay;
about 400 bales all for sale

pretty good color for late June hay

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