Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Hay...

We woke up this morning to the sound of a gentle rain...and to the feeling of thankfulness for yesterday's beautiful weather!

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...

It doesn't look like much in the empty mow, but it's a start.  I just wish I could somehow bottle up the smell and share it.  I know, I say that often, but it's true!  Freshly mowed and baled hay is one of the best smells!

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!


  1. I was out in the back yard the other morning and I could smell the freshly cut hay. It is time for the first cutting I think. You are so right about it being the best smell. It is and I love that this time of year.
    I am so glad you got your hay in, I bet it was a race.
    I love reading about your life. I bet it was crazy.

  2. There is nothing better than the smell of freshly mown hay. Bummer about the weevils. I see something is munching on an errant sunflower in my greenhouse. Thankfully, it only seems interested in the sunflower and not the veggies.

  3. almost everyone does round bales here (including the guy who bales our field). every once in a blue moon, i'll spy a field of square bales and it takes me back to my wisconsin youth! ahhh...

  4. Ahhhh...I can smell it clear down here in Tennessee! I'm so glad the weather cooperated.

    I love your posts because they spark so many good memories of my past. THANK YOU !

  5. So glad you got your hay up! With all the rain and as wet as my bottom is, I'm really worried about hay this year. But, heck, I should probably worry about even getting the beans planted before I start worrying too much about the hay. :-)

  6. Glad you were able to get the hay baled! Even "store bought" hay smells good so I can just imagine how wonderful fresh cut smells! :)

  7. I'm glad that you got your hay in before the weevils did too much damage, It has been raining so much here, I'm glad that our hay is not ready yet. A farmer's life is never easy and it always a the mercy of the weather.

    I love the smell of fresh cut hay. It reminds me of my childhood.

    Have a great week.

  8. Glad you got the hay taken care of! My husband is taking care of that tomorrow, actually!

  9. No one's baling hay here yet, but our neighbor is getting ready, he cuts and gets our hay.

  10. this is fascinating. I knew that haying was complicated and it was nice to hear a farmer's explanation. I'm a little bit of a weather geek, too, and I attribute that to my dad (grew up on a farm) and uncle (still on the farm).

  11. I miss the scent of fresh cut hay, but the hard work, not so much. Hope you have a nice stack of bales stashed when the job is done. I know your herd will thank you.


I enjoy hearing what you have to say! Thanks for your comments!