Baling dry hay is always a challenge, or so it seems the past few years! We need at least three or four consecutive days of hot, sunny weather to be sure that the hay is dry enough to make good quality feed for the cows, and that it is dry enough to safely store in the barn.
I did this post last June, explaining how Jim decides when to mow the hay. Two weeks ago, he began checking out the fields. They were in very early bud stage...a tad early for mowing...but he noticed this...
You can see that the leaves are damaged...with little holes in them. This damage is caused by the alfalfa weevil. If left go, the weevils will cause more and more damage, diminishing the hay quality significantly! Some years they are worse than others...it seems like every three years on average we have a problem with them.
The solution? Mow and bale the hay right away.
The first step is to listen to this...
Do you have one of these? We have several, and all summer long, it is kind of like an extra appendage. Farmers rely so much on the weather...almost everything we do depends upon it! The weather forecast that we rely upon most is often from the NOAA weather radio, based out of State College PA. I remember my Dad using the same thing when I was a girl. As we all know, weather forecasters are not God, and are often wrong, but we have to rely on what they say.
The forecast didn't look promising for baling the hay dry, so Jim mowed most of it and baled it wet, in round bales and wrapped them. Up until a couple of years ago, we didn't have this option, and it sure has been nice! Now we know that we can make balage if we don't have a good forecast, although we prefer feeding dry hay to the cows.
He left one field here at home stand, as it was a little younger than the others, and didn't show much weevil damage. He mowed that one this past Friday afternoon, hearing a good forecast for the holiday weekend. It rained on Friday evening, but rain on freshly mowed hay isn't a problem. It might take a little longer to dry, but the strong winds on Saturday and Sunday cooperated nicely, helping it along.
Yesterday was gorgeous! In the morning Jim checked the hay, and raked it into windrows. (no pictures this time, as the day was a bit crazy...sorry!) He baled it up in the afternoon, and three neighbor boys and Eric unloaded it into the mow. They did a great job stacking. Again, no pictures of the action, because I was milking while they were working. I took this picture this morning...
We are so thankful that the rain held off until this morning. We haven't been past our neighbors' fields yet today, to see if they finished or not, but some of them had a lot to bale. I hope they're done too!