Sunday, November 4, 2012
We have completed two cuttings of hay this year and we finally found that bale we were looking for… the LAST one!!! Here is how “we” do it.
This is what the hay looks like before we cut it. Pretty and green and soft and supple.
The hay is cut with a hay cutter pulled behind a tractor. These blades do the “mowing”.
We have a few awesome hay cutters, ( and I ain’t talking about the machinery) this one is my favorite, my sweet honey. This is some fresh cut hay, you can see the perfectly straight lined strips. :) awesome hay cutter !
This is what cut hay looks like. It has to dry out for one day before it can be fluffed.
Next step is my favorite part… fluffing!! Tractor number one :( not my favorite because it is closed cab. Tractor number two :) my favorite little blue tractor because it is OPEN!!! We let the fluffed hay set and continue to dry for a day. Then it can be raked and baled, all in the same day if the weather permits.
This is what a ‘”fluffed” field looks like… done!!
The next step is to rake the hay into rows. This is a hay rake that is pulled behind the tractor. The straighter the rows, the easier it is to bale. It is obvious that I did not rake this hay!!!
These are nice straight raked hay rows… ready to be baled. Mickey and Cameron do an awesome job!!!!
Raking and baling.
Last step is to bale the hay. Don’t get me started on our two awesome balers. (I ain’t talking about the machinery). Van and Adam drive those machines across those fields with the precision of nascar drivers. They keep it going for hours at the time stopping only to refill the twine. (okay so there are occasionally break downs and hay wadding up in the balers but I would rather not talk about that… negativity sucks!!). The baler is pulled directly over the raked rows. The baler scoops up the hay and rolls it into a tight ball. When it gets to the right size it is tied with hay twine. All this happens inside the baler. Then the baler opens up and like magic… TA DAAAA!! there is a huge bale of hay. It is even possible to change the size of the bales. I personally would like to see little bitty baby round bales but no one else seems to agree with me.
Here are the balers turning out nice big round hay bales. Van pulls the John Deere and Adam pulls the Vermeer.
Van and Adam getting the job done!!
Finished product. Large round beautiful hay bales. It would be so wonderful if these bales would just grow up out of the ground already baled but that is not the case. Baling hay, just like everything else in farming, is a process.
We move the hay 2 ways. We have a bale mover that attaches to the back of a large tractor. You back the forks into the bale and lift it up and carry it wherever it needs to go. Most of the time it goes well… then there is that time you back into it and the forks don’t go down low enough and they catch on the hay twine. Not good, the bale just gets pushed all over the field. I have had to just roll away and come back later and try again. It will make you lose your religion… patience is a virtue and I want it NOW!!! I like to move hay with the bale mover and I once moved the biggest field we do ALL by myself. (this is where I pat myself on the back… not much back patting going on around here… not enough time… so I do it myself… while I am at it TOOT TOOT, that is me tooting my own horn…I am proud of my accomplishment and the crew will hear about it for years to come :) There had to be about 900 bales… okay maybe not that many but Van told me that there was about 500. That is a lot. I timed it and it took me almost 20 minutes to get from the most far side of the field to the hay hold up. That is a lot of time for one bale. I was really rockin’ a farmer’s tan that year.
We also move the hay with the trailers. We have 2 long trailers that will hold 3 or 4 bales at a time. They are loaded on the trailer with the forklift and unloaded with the hay spear (very scary) that attaches to the front of the front end loader. This way is much better when we have a lot of hay to move and it has to go a long way. I get to drive the trailer. It is not so bad until we have to take the hay to a hay hold up with not much room. Not much room means I cannot turn around in the hay hold up.
Perfect for me is a huge, massive space with plenty of room to get in and out. Sometimes we have small hay hold ups and therefore we have to pull in, unload, and then back out. Normally I am okay in reverse, but this is a huge tractor pulling a 28 or a 32 foot trailer. And yes, I am a girl… But believe me it gives everybody something to laugh at. And I actually sometimes get it right and can back it out without taking out a row of fence while I do it.
And may I add, to all you male farmers out there, that maybe I cannot back up a tractor and trailer… but I CAN and I HAVE birthed a baby… try to better that!!!!!! I’m just sayin’ :)
The square bales are a whole different story. The cutting, drying, fluffing, raking and baling are the same. But the picking up is different. It is all manual labor (at least it is on our farm). The baler leaves the bale laying in the field. We pull a trailer along the rows of square bales and the men have to pick them up and fling them up and onto the moving trailer. There is someone up on the trailer stacking the bales just right so we can get as many as possible on the trailer.
This is very painful for me to watch. I am the driver. I have to go a steady speed, watch out so I don’t get too far ahead or too far behind them, and all the while trying to stay as close as possible to the bales without running anyone over. NO PRESSURE!!!! This is HARD work for me and I am just the driver… it is unnerving for me to imagine what our guys go through. And is usually done in the heat of the day… it just seems to work out that way. And after the trailer is full it has to be taken to the barn and unloaded the same way it gets loaded. I feel so helpless watching them but knowing I would just make a fool out of myself if I even tried to throw a bale. So I stick to driving. I am really glad I work with such gentlemen who would not let me try even if I wanted to.
I have done all phases of the hay process except baling and throwing square bales. My raking was kind of pitiful, looked like my rows were raked by a drunk monkey. My cutting not as bad, but not much better either. I did the not pull the cutter up at the right time and got that massive mountain of cut hay thing and wondered “where in the world did that come from???” Lesson learned quickly and only happened one more time. As for baling… it is a mind thing… too much for me to have to think about and seems to be a lot of mechanic-ing (spell check will love that word) going on and I don’t mechanic!! And we have already discussed the throwing bales job. My absolute favorite is fluffing… it is relaxing to me and I can just get on and go at it. Turn on my jams and fluff the heck out of some hay. Not much better than a good day of fluffing. I am a blessed girl. God is good... all the time.
We made some hay. In four days we baled over 1100 bales from just two fields. One really small field that yielded more than it ever has and our biggest field that did not disappoint again this year. It has been a great hay season, we are truly blessed. This does not happen by chance. It is from hard work and perseverance. Our crew has pretty much wrote the book on this work ethic. It is an honor to work with these guys, Pug (my sweet honey), Van, Adam, Mickey, Greg, Poncho, David and Cameron. I am forever grateful for their patience and understanding with me as I learn this trade. Again… some have more than others… I am not mentioning any names. :) I LOVE FARMERS !!! especially mine.
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