Category Archives: farming

A Farmer’s work is never done

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.

Sunrise over the hills of Picadilly, NB

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.

Let the baling begin.

It’s fascinating to watch how quickly it all happens. No time or effort is wasted.

Baled and awaiting transport to the farm

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.

A large round bale awaiting pickup.

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.

White lilac tree flower

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.

Simple daisies looking after themselves.

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, New Brunswick, seasons Tagged |

The time has come

It’s the time of year that farmers have a love/hate relationship with their fields. It is haying season.

Sunrise on Mulberry Lane

On the first really sunny day we’d had in a while, Harley and I headed out early for our morning walk. The sunrise over the hills of Picadilly seen from Mulberry Lane was spectacular. Fields on both sides of the road were fragrant with mature hay, ready for harvest.

Roadside weeds at sunrise

Even weeds look beautiful at sunrise. Harley is patient when I stop to shoot photos, taking my time to bend over and have a look to see how a photo might appear.

Hay as far as the eye can see

In the warm glow of sunrise, the hay takes on a golden cast.

Seed heads begin to dance as a light breeze blows across the field.

Timothy glowing

The mature seed heads of the timothy hay glow as they blow in the early morning breeze.

Almost beyond mature, the hay crop is ready. It’s time for that first cut and judging by the density of the growth in the fields, the yield should be excellent. Farmer Brown’s cows will eat well this winter!

In another day or two this field will first be full of bales – and then empty, ready to grow some more for a second cut and harvest for the season.

I love haying season (now that I no longer have to lift and stack bales). The smell of the dew drenched grass and then the intoxication of the aroma of newly cut hay wafting in my windows.



Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, photography, seasons Tagged , , , |

‘Tis the season – to make hay

Tedded and raked field ready for baling.

Tedded and raked field ready for baling.

I love living in rural New Brunswick. Our neighbours are farmers and we catch the rhythm of the seasons as they fertilize and lime their fields, watch them grow, cut, rake and prepare the hay for baling. The scent of new mown  grass wafts across the road and I can sit on the deck and blissfully inhale the aroma.

Baled and ready to load

Baled and ready to load

With today’s modern equipment the process is much faster than it used to be. Fields are now cut, raked, tedded, baled and stripped all in a day, or maybe two if it’s a big field. Tractors come in, stab the huge round bales and stack them on wagons, ready to be hauled away.

Roadside remnants

Roadside remnants

And then it’s over – for now – and the fields begin to grow again.

Yes, ’tis the season to make hay.

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick Tagged , |

Framing your photo – a tip

I had a lengthy discussion today with a couple of people about framing photos. Not literally putting a frame on a printed photo, but instead, in terms of composing the image in-camera.

One thing that I suggested was that, if your sky is boring (practically a solid grey or pale blue devoid of cloud or colour interest) you should minimize it by changing your perspective on the image. Get high in a tree or on a ladder or go low to the ground. It will make a world of difference to the finished image.

Hay tedded for drying in the field

Hay tedded for drying in the field

For example, this sky was incredibly dull, but the dandelions and weeds on the side of the road created interest in the rows of tedded hay in the field behind stretching to infinity beyond the horizon. This same photo taken from a standing position, with the horizon centered to provide equal space to the sky and the field, would have been incredibly dull with a lot of boring blue cloudless sky occupying the top half of the image.

The following photo was taken the next morning at dawn. The rows had been baled and now it’s a slightly different story. The rising sun created interesting shadows beside the bales but I still relied on the roadside grass and weeds to create interest and lead the viewer’s eye into the field to the lone tree standing in the background again against an essentially dull sky.

Round bales at dawn

Round bales at dawn

So, when you’re out shooting a scene that you love, consider changing your perspective to take the photo from OK to “wow”!

Also posted in BLOG, photography, Photography techniques, seasons Tagged , , , , , |

Autumn in the country

Autumn in the country around Sussex, NB, means brilliant fall foliage colours, harvesting, and, for some intrepid farmers, the annual provincial ploughing competition. This year it was held in the field up the road from our home.

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Mother nature cooperated by providing a brilliant and sunny day for the event and a colourful backdrop for spectators. The object of the game is for the ploughmen/women to drive their tractors and create furrows of a specific length, width and depth on a consistent basis. If you’ve never driven a tractor you can’t really appreciate just what a challenge it is!

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This gentleman came prepared, complete with a sunshade on a hot afternoon.

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Ploughing is not a gender-specific endeavour on most farms, as this young lady aptly demonstrated.

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Nor does the size or brand of the tractor matter. It’s all about the driver’s skill.


With each pass the judges step in and measure the result and any deviation can mean the difference between becoming champion – or not.

Although it’s a serious undertaking, it’s also done in good spirit and a skilled ploughman/woman is a joy to watch.

Of course, here in Kings County we always have the juxtaposition of generations-old rural traditions against industrial development.

The tips of the stacks from the nearby potash mines dot the backdrop.

The tips of the stacks from the nearby potash mines dot the backdrop.

Whatever your interest, autumn in the country is both pleasant and colourful. Get out and enjoy it while you can. Sadly, autumn heralds the arrival of that other not-to-be-named season.

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Also posted in Autumn, BLOG, community, Fall Foliage, New Brunswick, photography, seasons

I believe in miracles

Rio - born Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 7:30 a.m. to Twink and Maverick owned by Gina Bouchard and Bruce Bennett.

Rio – born Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 7:30 a.m. to Twink and Maverick owned by Gina Bouchard and Bruce Bennett.

This tiny foal was born on one of the coldest mornings we’ve had so far. He’s a miniature horse, a little stud colt, weighing in at a whopping 23 pounds. Twink is a first-time mom and she handled the whole birth and mothering scene like a seasoned pro!

Rio's bday_web _L2H0975 - Version 2Horses are prey animals so at birth, even wet and cold, it’s essential that a foal stand up and be prepared to run with his mother should a predator arrive on the scene. Rio doesn’t have that to worry about since he was born in a protected environment. Don’t worry about the umbilical cord still attached – it will break eventually or, in this case, the veterinarian came to check on baby and mom and cut the cord for him.

A little wobbly

A little wobbly

Like most foals, Rio was a little wobbly for quite a while. The red hue, by the way, is due to the heat lamp that Gina put in the stall to help the little fellow stay warm. She and the mare worked hard to clean him up and dry him off.

Rio's bday_web _L2H0978 - Version 2Mom is encouraging him to stand and move around, while licking him off and nickering sweetly to him. Watching this miracle unfold brought tears to my eyes.

Gina's hand on Rio's side should give you an idea of how small he really is.

Gina’s hand on Rio’s side should give you an idea of how small he really is.

Normally foals begin to suckle from their mother fairly quickly but little Rio didn’t catch on right away. Since it’s essential that he receive the immunizations included in his mother’s colostrum, Gina’s only alternative was to milk the mare and use a tiny syringe tube to feed him for a while. “Gramma” Gina was busy all night milking Twink and feeding Rio every half hour and without her dedication and support there’s little doubt that the poor wee guy might not have made it through those treacherous first 24 hours.

But, he made it and he finally figured out that Mom was a 24/7 mobile milk bar so all is progressing well. It really was a miracle.

Rio's bday_web _L2H0985

Also posted in All Things Equine, animals, BLOG, Canada, gratitude, happiness, hobby farms, horses Tagged |

A hoar frost morning

In late November, when you wake up and see everything before you covered in fog, you know the roads will be slippery and tree branches may be at least partially covered in hoar frost.

So, my friend Kathy and I bundled ourselves, her 9-month-old son Sam, and our gear into her vehicle and we headed up to Cornhill. Our search for photo worthy spots was not in vain. Here are a few of my favourites from our morning’s efforts. I hope you enjoy them.

Also posted in Autumn, BLOG, Canada, creativity, day tripping, friend Tagged , , |

Happy Days

The moment before…

Sunday dawned warm and sunny as had every day for weeks this summer – a good omen for the wedding of Hubert and Krista. This hard-working couple had to squeeze their ceremony in around the myriad of scheduled and unavoidable chores that go with being dairy farmers. Consequently the nuptials took place at high noon, outdoors, under the blazing hot sun. But none were deterred from enjoying the moment.

And the groom considered his last moments as a ‘single’ man too…

Friends and family gathered out in the yard to enjoy the raucous procession as attendants danced down the aisle.

And so did the bride and groom!

Here come the bride and groom!

And now introducing the happy couple!

Mr. & Mrs. Duivenvoorden



Also posted in BLOG, caring, family, friend, life changes, wedding Tagged , , , , , |

It’s gonna be a hot one today….

The cheery soul on last night’s TV weather forecast share a prediction for temperatures in the 30s for the next several days accompanied by high humidity, rain, thunder storms. In other words, a typical mid-summer week ahead.

Luckily, Hoover and I are early morning types so, to avoid being on the hot asphalt road later in the day, we took our long walk at 6 o’clock when the sun was barely peeking over the horizon and the air, although humid, was still relatively cool. We weren’t the only ones out and about. Across the road two farm workers were quickly gathering the last of the huge, round, hay bales on the forks of the tractor and loading them onto wagons for transport to the barn. Because the last bit of the field is a long way from the road, it looked for all the world like dinky toy vehicles zipping around.

And, even though the hay has been cut and baled already, new shoots are growing up and there will be a second cut in August for sure!

Wonderful scents competed for my attention: newly mown hay versus musky woodland smells. Both hold their own attraction for me. When inhaled deeply, both evoke a moment of peace and I am immediately transported back to my childhood lying in the grass watching cloud characters float by on high. And it feels good.


Also posted in BLOG, Canada, creativity, gratitude Tagged , , , , , , , |

#15 of 30: My favourite place

It’s hard to pick just one place to name as the one and only favourite place. I have many that I enjoy – each for its own reason. But, for today, my favourite place was my barn.

No matter what else was going on in my life, how chaotic my schedule had become, those thrice-daily trips across the yard to the barn were my link to all things normal.

As soon as you opened the door you would be overwhelmed by the sweet smell of new hay recently stacked and waiting to feed a hungry horse all winter. Then there was the woody smell of the bedding that I kept fresh and clean with each visit. At feeding time I’d open the grain bin and yet another scent assaulted my senses as my fingers scooped through the smooth, green pellets.

Once the hay had been delivered and the grain poured into the feed tub, Beau would come in from the pasture and bury his nose in it, groaning with a visceral pleasure at the scent and feel of his meal. While he ate I would stroke his thick black hair coat or run my fingers through his mane – picking out bits of grass or the odd knot that might have formed during his day roaming the pasture in search of succulent slivers of grass. A picky eater, he only selected the very best green shoots for his snacks, leaving the woody stems of less palatible grass for the geese who visited regularly.

At the end of each day, after he’d eaten, I’d feed him bits of sweet apple – cut into small pieces so it would take longer to eat and we’d spend a few more precious and private moments together.

Circumstances have changed now and I no longer own a horse. Beau is living in a friend’s stable and is well looked after. But, we no longer share those special moments alone in the quiet of my tiny barn just a few steps beyond the back door where the world is always just right.

The little farm

Also posted in All Things Equine, animals, appreciation, death of a dream, horses, horses hobby farms rural living lifestyle