Posted by: poofergirlsperspective | September 20, 2007

hay

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I remember hearing bits and pieces during our courtship about “making hay when the sun shines” but I never really knew what it meant.   Loren would tell me stories of having to cut it and rake it and bail it and then stack it but I didn’t understand how much work was involved in the process.  Last summer I helped pick up some bails off the ground and then we stacked some hay in the hayshed, and I helped to make some hay piles around the farm with low quality hay that will someday be compost, but that was my only experience.

So when it came time to deal with hay, this farm girl had lots to learn.  My first discovery was that hay is quite temperamental and it demands much more attention then grass should really receive.  You have to cut it at certain times, rake it at certain times, let it rest, let it dry … quite complicated actually.  I also discovered that even though there are dozens of other projects to be taken care of, they are put on hold if the weather conditions are just right for hay.  And, if you have a wedding to attend, but the hay has to be bailed, then you are on the hayrack catching and loading bails of hay before you leave.  That really happened … and it was on 07-07-07 … one of the hottest days of the summer. 

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My first “official” hay bailing experience came in June.  The weather was perfect for bailing but Loren had to work.  I was asked “will you help Dad with the hay this afternoon?”  Even with my limited knowledge about hay I knew enough to know that I should be careful with my answer so I said with a very large sigh and a very non-committal tone “ummm … If I HAVE to I will”.  It seemed that my husband took that as an enthusiastic yes because I didn’t receive any sympathy and he called his dad to let him know that he had a helper.  Last time I was asked that question I didn’t have to do the work because as I said, hay is temperamental and the conditions weren’t just so.  But this time I had to do it.  I don’t know what my aversion to it was exactly, but I knew that it would be hot, and a lot of work … two of my least favorite things. 

I don’t know for sure if the heat and work scared me as much as the thought of bailing hay with my new father-in-law.  I was uncertain that I could do a good enough job.  He is a kind man, but I didn’t know what it would be like to bail hay with him.  Plus, I was a new haymaker and he was a seasoned veteran who was used to working with Loren who knew exactly what to do.  After I whined to Loren about how I wasn’t sure that I could do a very good job and gave him my list of reason why it wasn’t probably such a good idea, he said, … “You will be fine, it is really simple, you can’t do it wrong.  You just have to take the bails when they shoot out of the bailer and stack them on the rack … the bails come out about every minute so you have plenty of time.”  Realizing what he just said, I said “wait … I am on the hayrack?! … like standing on it when it is moving?”.  His grin meant yes to my question and unfortunately, he had failed to calm my fears.   

More terrified then before I had no choice but to mustered up my courage and prepare for the job ahead.  I was physically ready; I had my new leather gloves and I was fully covered from head to toe.  Though I looked ready … I was definitely not looking forward to it. 

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The bailer and hayrack were hooked up to the tractor and it was time to start.  I met Leo out near the cut dried hay and hopped on the hayrack and we took off.  I knew that I should be courageous enough to stand while in motion but I cowardly knelt down, praying that it would be a safe & painless experience.  The first bail came out of the bailer and I quickly realized that I had no choice but to stand while in motion!  But the first few bails came out nice and slow and I thought, “Oh this can’t be so bad, look how slowly they come out”.  My positive thoughts were short lived when the bails started shooting out so fast that they were piling up quickly as I hurried back and forth from one end of the hayrack to the other.  Scanning the large area of hay that needed to be bailed I wondered if I would survive the afternoon. 

We made it to the end of the first row and as the corner was made, a bail fell off the bailer before I could catch it.  I learned quickly that you have to plan ahead when it comes to the corners.  Leo stopped the tractor and ran back to pick it up for me.  It was obvious that I was hot and tired from that first row and he said, “they won’t be all that fast, this row is a double row.” That was a relief.  He went back to the tractor and we started off.  Up and down the rows we went.  With each row my confidence grew and I began to effortlessly grab the bails (about 40 pounds a piece) and stack them up.  I got much better at the corners and if I remember correctly I only dropped the one bail.  I think that we worked pretty well as team … this new farm girl and the veteran farmer, mostly because my father-in-law was more patient and re-assuring then I could have imagined. Before I knew it we were almost done with the important work of the day, with two full hayracks to show for our efforts … a job well done.

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I helped bail hay a few more times throughout the heat of summer and each time I grew in my knowledge and appreciation for the process.  My now worn leather gloves will have a rest for a while, as the white snow will soon cover the once green hay fields.  But before we know it, I’ll be hopping on the old hayrack to “make hay when the sun shines” … no longer fearful of the job at hand, but thankful for the opportunity to participate in the process as a seasoned veteran.

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Responses

  1. Hi Stephanie,

    I am just getting around to reading all of your entries (Oct 6th) and I should be working or getting ready for the wedding we have this afternoon but reading this stuff is so enjoyable and this one about the hay is so funny! I remember doing it too, but fortunately the boys (Martin and Loren and Dad) did it most of the time. Good for you!

  2. […] spent sometime with Mr. & Mrs. Veteran Haymaker  aka Loren’s parents on […]


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