Hay season is finally over! For me, at least. We put in the last hundred bales on Saturday afternoon, which means the goats will be happy and fed all winter. Just like with the first round, the night after the hay was baled it rained, so I went and moved the fences of both the brush herds before we picked up the hay, just to give it time to dry before it went into the barn. It's been an odd summer, weather-wise.
This was second cutting hay, which is an unusual feat for this part of the country. It usually rains pretty regularly from late October until early July, with dry bits off and on in between. This year the spring was really dry, allowing Farmer Dan to cut hay in May. He let it grow again and cut it last week, making very, very good hay, but also very heavy bales.
That's the baler. Last year, before we could put in the hay at the family farm, I got up close and personal with the baler. One of the springs had broken, and once it was replaced, the baler had to be threaded again. It turned out to be so much more difficult than I would have thought, which is typical of most of the things I've learned since beginning the farming adventure. Imagine changing the thread on a sewing machine, except that it's as big as your car and covered in grease and bits of historical hay. And if you don't get the "needles" lined up just right, the whole threading exercise is futile. It took three people several days to get it figured out, and just when I was about to throw my hands up in despair, I talked to someone who told me that even if you have a brand new baler, when you pull it out of the barn to make hay, something will be wrong with it. That made me feel a little better about not figuring it out right away.
I'm glad we have young people who are willing to help put the hay in, because I honestly don't know if we could do it by ourselves. I'm sure I have mentioned this in a previous hay post, but our hay loft is a bit of a challenge to fill since we don't have a hay elevator. That's on my wish list, but the list is long and the budget is short. Until we win the lottery (or actually play the lottery) we will have to rely on young folks with much stronger backs. Since the barn is at the top of a hill, even getting the hay that far is a challenge. The ground remains soft enough all summer that the truck can't pull the loaded trailer up the hill, so we have to unhitch the trailer at the bottom and take the hay up in the back of the truck, fifteen or so bales at a time. Since the hay had been rained on and needed to be salted, the time between loads was well spent. It is so satisfying to have that job done. Even though I knew the rest of the hay was coming, I can't relax until the barn is full. There's nothing like running out of hay in late winter to impart a sense of panic that runs just below the surface of everything else I do.
The two summer chores that give me the greatest sense of security are putting in the hay and filling the wood shed. I am halfway to a good night's sleep. The wood shed is only half full, and if last winter is anything to go by, we better get moving. Two more cords of wood should allay my fears about spending the winter huddling in the bathroom next to the space heater. I'm sure the wood will show up and make it into a future post.
Today's parting shot is of the road when I was on my way to take the truck and trailer back where they belong. My hay crew was standing up in the bed of the truck as I was driving (not safe, I know, but nobody listens to me) and were concerned when I suddenly stopped and got out. They understood when I pointed ahead and aimed my camera. They both pulled out their phones to get pictures too.
I have finally gotten all the hay bits washed out of my hair and my pores, so I am going to go take it easy for the rest of the evening. After I haul 150 pounds of feed up to the barn, that is. Have a wonderful day, everyone!