Rain on a newly mowed field can remove nutritious elements from the grasses. The faster it dries in the sun the more nutrition stays in the bales of hay. Good feed for the animals can mean alot especially if it is a cold and long winter.
To my" Farm Boy" haying season is a love/hate relationship. I have watched him in his tractor doing endless rounds cutting and raking(I'll explain this later on). He moves effortlessly through the fields, knows every hole, rock outcrop and wet area. He knows the lay of his land. It is for me a joy to watch someone so in tune with his surroundings. He can name the grasses in order of a cows eating preference and scrutinize areas of land that require maintenance for optimum feed value. It is his job to get all equipment ready for action. Tractors require oil changes and necessary repairs, haybines(this cuts and conditions the hay) must be in good shape for cutting, and rakes(this piece of equipment gently folds the rows of grass over so the sun can dry it evenly) are oiled and checked for smooth operation. We are lucky enough to hire the services of a friend who owns a baler( a piece of equipment that packs the hay into large round cylinders). If all goes well, the weather and equipment cooperate haying can go fairly smooth. Occasionally this happens. But to be honest most years there always seems tom be a snag. This is where the hate part of the relationship comes in. All it takes is one of those pieces of machinery to break and production is held up.This is were cursing is a mandatory skill. If nothing else it relives a temporary frustration. Nerves get a wee bit fraught and we scurry like mad to get it all back to working order. If we're lucky we get back to business fairly quickly.
It is a satisfying feeling to watch the process of the animals feed being made and even more satisfying to see the last bales of hay brought to the farm to be tucked away for future use when the grasses freeze up for the winter. I'd like to think the cows are thanking " Farm Boy" for the work that he puts into their winter dinners!
As an outsider looking in you may look upon a peaceful picture of rows and rows of cut hay and bale upon bale scattered in the fields. Perhaps you can see a new appreciation for the amount of work that a farmer puts in that field and for those of you who are knee deep in the process of making your hay this summer, the best of luck and a prosperous season!