Friday, August 7, 2009

Hay 101

With the unpredictable weather we have had this summer, wait, it has been raining almost every day, make that with the rainy weather we have been having it has been difficult to cut the hay. Boy, I'm starting to sound like a broken record. Anyhow, we attempted to hay our upper field. It is about 2 acres in size. We waited until late afternoon because showers had been predicted for morning. They never arrived. So we took the green machine over to Kevin's (our neighbor with haying equipment)and asked him for a haying lesson. He explained and showed us how to hook up the hydraulic lines that make the mower/conditioner go up and down. The PTO is what makes the mower cut and conditioner turn. Okay, so far so good. Off to the top of the hill we went. It really is a good hike and I can use the exercise. Kevin rode and Ted drove the green machine. Lesson #2, mow counter-clockwise on the first pass next to the trees. This puts the mower as close to the trees as possible. This is called a cutback. Done!

Okay, second pass goes clockwise. This way your tractor drives over the cut hay on the ground and the mower lines up in the tire marks from the first pass. Viola, we are getting cut hay. I know to some this is not an exciting event. To us it is so exciting because if we learn how to cut our own, it gives up one more skill in the process of being independent. Kevin is happy because he can spend his time cutting and baling his own hay. It just feels so good!

This is the PTO I mentioned. It spins very fast and you really want to stay clear of this device when it is in motion.

Kevin is great with explanations. Here he is explaining to Alex the same things he helped Ted to accomplish.

This is the mower part of the machine. There are very sharp knife like devices on the bottom that cut the hay off near the ground. Lesson: you can hear the metallic tink (like the old metal shears used in sewing) when they close while the mower is going. If you don't then they have become clogged with cut hay. You will also notice that the cut hay is not coming over the conditioner. Back up and this will unclog the cutter. See, I listened.

The conditioner rolls the hay between a metal roller and a rubber roller to crimp/break the stems so that the moisture is allowed to escape and the hay dries faster.

The stems are broken and split from the extreme pressure between the two rollers.

I think haying is hard work but I'm so glad we have machines to accomplish what farmers did for centuries by scythe. I know my back would never hold up. After just two passes something happened. The universal on the PTO broke. I guess we have to cut our lesson short today. Off to the part store in Corinth to pick up a new universal. Darn! I was having so much fun.

This is the view from the top of our hill looking out on the next farm. This is silage corn. It will be cut and chopped up and allowed to ferment. Then it will be fed to dairy cows as winter food. There is something beautiful in corn rows. They are straight, neat, and so so green.

A cute picture to end this post. The neighbors pony China had this sweet colt this morning. No name as yet. He is soft as down. Welcome to the neighborhood young man.

I hope this post wasn't boring. I found the haying very interesting. I have thrown bales in my youth but was never involved in the actual cutting. Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.


Terri and Randy Carlson said...

Interesting! Will you put it up into small bales? How many will you get from that 2 acres?

Kelly or Alex said...

Hi Terry- We use small bales because it is easier to feed and move around and less waste. We are just starting our flock and have very small numbers. You on the other hand have oodles of sheep. We will get 80 to 100 bales from the two acres.