Haying Time

photo credit: Alexander
It doesn’t get much more fun than playing in the tall grass! It’s up to our waist, and it’s beautiful to see the breezes sway the meadow grass! Patches of clover, orchard, timothy, and alfalfa bend low around our legs as we walk. The little girls disappear when they leave a clearing to enter the grass adventure!

photo credit: Alexander

There is a natural cadence on a farm, and haying time marks one of them. Mid-June is a busy and exciting time when the grasses get their first cutting; the hay is harvested for fodder – livestock feed. Haying time is the season for cutting, drying and storing the hay.

Not enough grass grows year around in Michigan, and we’ll need a source of winter feed. So it is essential that we store hay for the winter. Hay is what we call nutritional grass. The best hay is a combination of grasses harvested at the beginning of the flowering stage when the grass has its rich green color, good plump leaves, and fine stems.

Afternoon is the best cutting time because the dew is off and the plant’s sugars are at its peak. The tractor cuts the grasses, and they’re left flat in windrows for a day of two. The sun dries the dew, and the tractor flips the cuttings for the sun to dry the other side. If the hay doesn’t dry well, it will mold. A rake or tedder on the back of the tractor fluffs the windrows and turns the hay to speed the drying process. Now it will be ready for bailing. Ours are the small, square bales – the type most often used by shepherds.

Soon after bailing, bales are ready to be retrieved from the fields. The smell is sweet, and the pale green bales seem to be stacked as high as the sky on the hay wagon! The boys work all morning to store it in a dry place for the winter months. Because careful storage is necessary, they will stack the bales in the darkest part of the barn. Low moisture and away from sunlight will help the hay preserve its vitamin content. Now it’s behind the great red barn doors.

For evening supper, Daddy grills enormous sausages which seem to please the hard-working boys. At night, all the kids get their sleeping bags and camp out on the long flat bed of the hay wagon!

photo credit: Alexander

with love. Damaris