Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Make Hay While The Sun Shines!

 

Having lived my entire life "out West" where hay was something you drove a long ways to buy (and paid a premium price for) it is still a novelty to me to live here in the South where we have a field with our own hay! 
 
We've been watching our lower hay pasture just grow and grow.  We have a few steers turned out in that pasture to fatten them up and in a few places the grass was so tall all you could see was the tops of the steers heads!

 
Maybe it won't interest you - but I still find the whole hay harvesting thing very interesting.  We are lucky to have a couple - Robert and Debbie - that cut, tether, rake, bale, and stack our hay.  Probably one of the most awesome things is that we don't have to worry about when its ready - they actually keep an eye on the hay (and the weather) and give us a call when they are going to start.  They have a man that helps them out; in the pictures above he is cutting.   It looks a bit different than if you were to mow the pasture... I guess it has to do with the kind of mower you use and obviously this one is for cutting hay.


These are the blades up close.  Looks a whole lot different than our bush hog!
 

When the field is cut, it looks like this.  It is rather interesting as it cuts the grass hay and then just lays it over.
 

Then, Debbie comes along with her pretty red tractor pulling this tether machine.  It picks up the hay and throws it around til it lands on the ground in a sporadic manner.  This allows it to get better air circulation which helps in the curing or drying of the hay.  Its fun to watch her when she does this - she really moves fast (which is why I have no picture)!
 
 
At this point it is really important that the hay doesn't get wet - hence the reason they watch the weather forecast.  After it is properly dried then Debbie comes back with her pretty red tractor again and she rakes the hay into nice long parallell rows called windrows.  I honestly don't know how she does this.  She moves at a really fast clip and she is pretty much constantly looking behind.  I wondered once why she had to look behind so much and when I was taking these pictures I realized it is because she is constantly adjusting the level of the rake.   She's not just out there leisurly pulling the rake and enjoying sitting on the tractor!  I bet its an art to get it raked just right.  And I bet her neck hurts at night.


There's her nice, uniform windrows.


This is the hay rake!  I think it is an awesome looking piece of equipment.
 

Then behind her along comes Robert with the baler just gobbling up those perfect windrows of hay.  He has to look behind also.  I bet his neck hurts at night too!  Actually, I bet they hurt all over!


There must be some electronic device that lets him know when the bale is finished as he stops his tractor and sits a few seconds (maybe it is wrapping the baling string around it?) and then all of a sudden the door opens and the bale rolls out.

 
I love how the field looks with all the bales sitting where they dropped!  Right now everyone is haying so wherever you go there are fields of hay bales.  It is really pretty.


Once the whole field is baled they put these hay spears on both the front and back of the tractor.  This allows them to pick up and carry two bales at a time.  They take them up out of the field where they stack them next to the tree line for us. 
 

And there you have it!  Over 100 big beautiful rolls of hay and two more cuttings to go this summer. 
 
 
 
It is hot and sunny here this week and my garden is happily growing!  And, the news on the house progress is that we installed our cabinets today!  We've still got the huge island and custom range hood to install.  I should have some pictures to post on cabinets soon!

23 comments:

  1. Wow Dori, that was very informative. I learned so much and the photos were excellent. Thank you for sharing that with your followers.
    Lisa
    leeshideaway

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    1. Thank you Lisa. In the couple years since we've moved out here to our farm, I have to say it is my favorite time of year. I love seeing the bales of hay in the fields and the freshly cut fields look so clean and beautiful! :-) ~ Dori ~

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  2. It's so nice to see fields making lots of hay. We live in Oklahoma and for the past two years we have been in a severe drought. This year the Lord has blessed us with enough rain to restore our pastures to green. Our cows can't keep up with all the grass. We have a small independent dairy farm and cut and bale all our own hay so we understand the importance of crops making enough hay. God Bless and best of luck to you and your family.

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    1. I went to your website last night and then saw where in Oklahoma you are... right in the middle of the tornado area. I hope that all is well with you and yours. Our hearts sure go out to all the folks there. ~ Dori ~

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  3. I have lived in the South my whole life and I still think it is a very neat process :) Hay season is busy right now all around us. We have someone who takes care of ours as well. Great pics and very informative post!

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    1. Sarah, I love having someone take care of our hay. I know my husband would love to do it himself someday but until we finish our house its all we can do to take care of the cows! :-) Do you pay the folks who take care of yours or do you do a split on the hay? Ours is great as it is a 60/40 split. We don't need all of it anyway, so it works great. Thanks for commenting! ~ Dori ~

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing that little tutorial! I have long been a fan of, as I call them, "roller bales" and it's great to see the process. Love your posts, always!

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    1. Thank you Betty! We had small rectangle bales out West, so I love the Roller Bales too! :-) Have a good rest of the week! ~ Dori ~

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  5. Thank you for looking at my families website. The storm that produced the tornado actually started right over our farm. Thankfully for us it moved six miles north before it produced the tornado. Its so sad to see all the devastation in Moore. Ten families that buy milk from us lost everything. Now we have three more high risk tornado days ahead of us starting today.

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  6. Not being a country girl this was so interesting. I love seeing the bales in the fields too when I get out of town...which isn't very often these days! Excellent photography too. Magazine worthy in my opinion. :o)

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    1. Thank you on the photography compliment Ann! Andrea gave me some pointers and I've been trying to learn to stay in the manual mode! Ha Ha! :-) (Loved the food ideas in your lunch boxes! It sounded so good and oh so perfect. I bet the reponse from everyone was very fun!)

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  7. I love reading about your land and how you take care of it!! Those posts are never boring. Can't wait for for more.
    Elizabeth

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  8. It is very much of interest to me (hey, I love MM posts on Pioneer Woman!). I was a city girl who married a man who grew up on the family homesteaded farm - it was a culture shock at first! Me, from Seattle, visiting a MN farm, trying to milk cows, trying to understand what the heck they were all talking about. What IS a combine, haha! Anyway, this was a fun post and the hay looks so comforting for some reason. I am in love with your daughter's chicken coop, btw.

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    1. PS: that hay rake looks like cool garden art!

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    2. Barbara - I too like to read MM's posts!!! :-) He does a really good job. My husband proof read my blog post for me to make sure I got all the words right! Ha Ha! (I had to look up windrows - because I was sure he was wrong. He wasn't!) And yes, Andrea's cozy coop is darling! Its just as darling in real life (if not more so). Have a good weekend!

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  9. That is really interesting, Dori. I've always wondered how the whole process worked. Blogs are so educational:) And...LOVE the Cozy Coop sign at Andrea's.

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    1. Hi Betty! Yeah, the Cozy Coop sign came out pretty cute on Andrea's chicken house! And blogs are amazingly educational. We've been discussing butcher block counter tops and if you can stain the ones from IKEA, etc.... I did a quick google search and found blog after blog that did exactly that. It was incredibly helpful. Have a good week! ~ Dori ~

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  10. I've always wondered just how this is done. I drive to work in the mornings and see all the beautiful fresh-baled hay and it just seems like a miracle that the day before it was a field of tall grass! I know you're thankful for help on the farm and pretty red tractors!

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    1. I know - it does seem pretty miraculous how you can take grass and turn it into those beautiful round bales! And since I love red that darling shiny red tractor just jumped out at me! (The blue one? I hardly noticed!! Ha Ha!) ~ Dori ~

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  11. This is an interesting post with lovely photos! :) I was just re-watching the old-fashioned movie "Ladies in Lavender" the other evening and there are a few scenes in there of the hay being gathered in the old way with hay wagons and pitchforks etc. It's a lovely portion of the movie and coming across this equally lovely contrast was fun :) And if you like vintage things, one of the best things in that movie was the old aprons...oh my I want to make a vintage style apron now !:)

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    1. Oh my goodness.... I love vintage aprons too! I have one that my mother gave me from her mother and then one that my Aunt (on the other side of the family) gave me from her mother.... so I have an apron from both of my Grandmother's. I love that. My mom has the original pattern that her mother used to make them from old feedsack fabric. I need to somehow make a copy of that pattern so I can make some. They are so precious. Hope you have a lovely week. ~ Dori ~

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  12. Hey Dori,
    I'm Amanda, Ms. Debbie's daughter-in-law. She wanted me to reply to you and let you know how much she liked the photos and blog. I love the photos as well! Ms. Debbie and Mr. Robert work so hard this time of year. It is really nice to find someone like yourself, who appreciates what they do and the beauty in their work. Glad to have yall in Tennessee.

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    1. Thank you for writing, Amanda. Glad that Debbie enjoyed the pictures. We do appreciate them so much. And we are so happy to be able to call Tennessee our home - we've met so many incredible people that really prove the warm Southern Hospitality! (And Robert and Debbie are some of those fine people!). ~ Dori ~

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