23 June 2012

Haying (mostly) with Horses

What a long, muscle-testing week it has been.  It's been hot and dry which has been a good thing for a change after all the rain in the last month or so.  The ground is drying out and we have more land available for planting at the farm.  Harvesting has been steady for the CSA pickups and market.

The most exciting thing for the whole crew was putting hay away for the horses.  Ken mowed two fields with a total approximate size of 4 or 5 acres over the course of 2 days.  The larger, 3 acre field was mowed this past weekend and tedded 2 times.  Tedding is a process most simply described as "fluffing the mowed grass."  The idea is that in order to be able to store hay, you have to let it cure in the field on a hot sunny day; otherwise it will grow moldy and become unhealthy and inedible for the animal.  An unexpected rain can ruin good hay.

The timeline for our two days of haying went as follows.  Tuesday we began tedding the large field with Jewel and Pete after CSA harvest with Ken instructing us and Kate and I taking turns doing that and doing other tasks on the farm.  Wednesday morning, Ken tedded again and mowed the second field while a neighbor helped rake and bale the hay with his tractor.  Once the baling was coming to an end after lunch, we harnessed Molly up to hook three horses abreast to the hay wagon.  Kate and I took turns driving the horses while Adrienne or Ken stacked the hay in an orderly fashion so they wouldn't fall off.  The two people who weren't driving or stacking threw bales on. 

Each full wagon load held approximately 65 bales of hay.  Throw in a tall can of Coca-Cola, kettle-cooked chips, strawberry popsicles, and peanut butter ice cream and at the end of Wednesday we harvested 298 bales of hay.  Of course we didn't finish until around 8 PM, but we went for a super refreshing swim at nearby Freedom Pond and pizza after that in Unity.  One of the best experiences I've ever had.

Thursday we harvested for Friday market in the morning and tedded the hay on the second field until lunch time.  During lunch the neighbor baled that field and we harnessed all three horses again for the last 132 bales of hay for the afternoon.  It was a hot day, but not as hot as the day before.  Kate and I had made plans previous to the knowledge of haying to have a potluck with farmer friends in the neighborhood. Although we were totally exhausted, it was a nice way to end the week.

Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse.
-Groucho Marx

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