Monday, June 1, 2015

Earliest Haying Ever

Last year I wrote that we had all the hay in the barn on June 7, the earliest ever. We beat that record by a week this year. Sunday, May 31, we put the last bales in the barn... without any of them getting rained on. Indeed, we hardly had any dew mornings, much less rain. It's a very dry year. But rain was predicted for Sunday night. And, between weather and schedules, we only had a five day window to cut/rake/bale and get it into the barn.

We cut all three fields this year, even though one was still being pastured. The grass all over the farm was early maturing so Johnny used neighbor Paul's mower to cut it everywhere he could get to. We locked the goats away from the operation but let the llamas and sheep remain. As some of the photos show, they reluctantly moved out of the way of hay equipment.

 Johnny took this photo to show the three pieces of equipment needed to mow the field. The garden tractor to jump Paul's tractor, which never started on its own, the tractor with mower, and the EZ Go to dash for mower parts.

I got home from a Black Oystercatcher nest monitoring at the coast on Wednesday just in time to see Johnny finish cutting the last field.

On Thursday, he had a day off to join me in more coast nest monitoring. Then on Friday, 
Johnny raked hay while I was off to the coast again returning in time to take a few more photos...

On Saturday afternoon, Paul baled hay... with llamas and sheep supervising...

 ... and getting in the way...

 When Paul finished, a little after 4 p.m., we began picking up bales. We quit around 7:30 and started again the next morning when the dew was off. By Sunday noon, all the hay was in the barn. Granted, there were less than 400 light bales but it's still quite a feat considering the hay crew. Our tractor driver is 85 year-old, one-eyed Irv, who also relayed bales from one hay elevator to the next in the loft.

Bale handler in the field and taking bales off the truck and onto the hay elevator was me... not exactly what you'd call a burly bale handler. Johnny took a photo when I was resting, of course. Probably watching a bird in the field.

Johnny did most of the work, mowing, raking, helping feed the baler when necessary, and stacking hay onto the flatbed trailer as I threw them up there. No, not "threw"... put them up there. Even though the bales are light (probably 40 to 50 pounds max), they are not throwable by me. Johnny, 73 and with a bad back, also took the bales off the end of the second elevator and stacked them in the barn.

As is his custom, Johnny jumped the last bale in the field. (Irv is on our tractor in the background.) Johnny says when he can no longer jump a bale, it's time to quit haying. The camera caught his take-off and landing, but not in the air. Trust me, he cleared it just fine. Looks like he'll be haying again next year.

  Sunday night it did, indeed, rain a little... about 1/4 inch... but not on our hay. Today, Monday, is a lovely, drizzly, gently-water-the-ground day.

Hay is in the barn and life is good on the Fink Family Farm.

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