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Archive for June 6th, 2011

The Ford Jubilee is the old workhorse we use to rake hay.

It is 96 degrees outside (weatherunderground reports it feels like 106), but John and I are busy preparing for winter. John spent Saturday and Sunday cutting hay. This morning I raked the upper field and John followed with the square baler and quickly baled 250 bales we’ll toss into the loft later this evening. Right now he’s out with the round baler finishing up the field. Tomorrow we’ll do the same with the lower field.

I love cutting, raking, and baling hay.

The mower conditioner kicks up bugs and you are often followed by swallows who fill the air with maneuvers usually seen in a fighter pilot movie. We let that downed hay dry for 48 hours before we move in with the rake.

The rake is a seemingly simple machine that makes a snick, snick, snick noise as it twists the cut hay over on itself and fluffs it into big windrows to dry. When you’re done, it’s like looking at acres of chenille while redtail hawks fly overhead.

When I was a child I called fields filled with square bales “farmers’ cemeteries” because the evenly spaced bales looked like tombstones.

Now they are a sign of an impending winter. Hard to imagine right now in early June. But I get the greatest feeling from knowing those bales are stacked in the loft, waiting for winter.

All year we have prepared these fields for this moment. In late summer and fall we stockpiled the grass, turning the cows in on the hay fields right before winter settled in for good. The cows grazed and simultaneously fertilized those fields. The cows were moved, the fields rested. They rested all winter and all spring and now they have made enough grass once again to bale for hay. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a second cutting later this summer.

Those hay bales will feed the horses, Jersey steers and pregnant dairy cows all winter.

Let it snow.

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