Farmers work from dawn to dusk, and often much longer than that. Growing, cutting, tedding, baling and storing hay is a huge part of their lives during the summer months. The expression “make hay while the sun shines” rings true! The farmer who owns the fields around our home has a crew working from first to last light to take advantage of the respite in the wet weather we’ve had all spring and early summer.
On the first day they cut. In this case, the farmer has several fields so once he gets two or three fields cut, everything rolls along like clockwork. As one field gets “tedded” (the hay raked into rows and ‘fluffed’ so it can dry in the sun), another gets baled. When the baling is done, the wagons arrive to take the string mesh wrapped bales away to the main farm where they are plastic wrapped for storage.
It’s fascinating to watch how quickly it all happens. No time or effort is wasted.
In hours the field will be totally empty and ready to start growing a second crop for the season. Some farmers are really lucky and get three cuts from their fields if the conditions are right.
It makes me think back to how hay used to be harvested. It was cut and tedded, but the balers were smaller and produced smaller, rectangular bales that later had to be hand loaded into wagons and then hand loaded into hay lofts. Before then, hay was cut either by hand with a scythe or with a mechanical mower towed by a horse or two. The loose hay was then hand forked into wagons, driven to the barn and hand forked into a loft to store for the winter. Both methods were very labour intensive compared to today’s methods with large bales handled by tractors with huge forks on the front.
To be honest, I’m glad our hay humping days are done. Even with the few hundred smaller square bales we handled every year to feed my horse, Beau, it was hot, sticky, itchy and exhausting work.
My farming these days consists of watching my perennials look after themselves and planting a few colourful flower boxes on my deck railing.
My favourite flowers grow on the roadsides and in the ditches, happily looking after themselves, saving me a lot of work. They wave cheerily as we pass by.