Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hay and Oats

When I grew up on the farm, I hated haying time, it was hot dusty job, sweat rolls down your shirt and hay dust gets stuck everywhere and begins to itch.  You have to wear long sleeves and pants or you would end up with prickles all up and down your legs and arms. (Prickles = highly technical word that means the red marks left on your body from hay stubble.) You need good gloves …to avoid blisters from the twine.   Our baler baled and unloaded the small square bales that weighed about 50 to 60 pounds (sometimes more) onto the ground.  The bales had to be picked up off the ground and loaded onto the wagon.  This was a great improvement from the loose hay and hay stacks.  Later my parents bought a baler with a kicker…the bales were deposited onto the wagon…thereby eliminating one of the hot dusty jobs.   Sometime the baler would kick them out pretty fast..so several people were needed to stack on the wagon.  Staying upright on a wagon moving through a hay field is a real talent.

Round hay Bales

I believe these large round bales are plastic netted..a netting surrounds the bale and holds it together.  I think these bales weigh about 1,000 pounds and must be moved with a tractor. Todd puts most of his hay in a hay shed so it is undercover.  Some people use these large bales as a wind break for their cattle.  I have been told that these bales with their round shape shed water better than square bales.  Some people have the kind of baler that encloses the bale in a white plastic covering.

Last evening my cousin Todd was combining Oats.  It is the first oats to be ready in our area.

Todd Combining oats

The fluffy rows are done…they have been combined.  The flatter rows near the center of the field have not been done yet.

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Looks like a John Deere Tractor and Combine to me.  The tractor has a cab…it is reminiscent of one of the last tractors my parents had.  The oats is being combined on Far Guy’s Maternal Grandparents old farm.  Last year this small corner field was corn.

My Cousin Todd and our neighbors Steve and Donnie along with Paul are the only small farmers left in this area.  How they eek out a living is beyond me…so their equipment may be a bit old…but I know they help each other out and borrow equipment back and forth. My cousin Todd is the youngest of the group, he must be just about 50 years old…and farmer Steve turned 70 years old this week…I think Donnie is in his 60’s.  Older farmers.

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20 comments:

  1. Our late family friend, Mary, and her husband always worked hard in the hay field. It's interesting to see your photos.

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  2. I have friends with farming childhoods and never tire of their reminiscences. While it all sounds magical, it was hard work and still is!

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  3. Your description of haying is perfect. It's the itchy-est job I know of, no matter how long the pant legs and shirt sleeves. But the satisfaction in the company and seeing those bales all lined up neatly in the barn, makes up for it I guess.

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  4. I attribute all my spare muscles to the haying and thistle pulling I did as a youth on my dad cousins farm near Arlington, MN as a youth. Yes I was farmed out for part of the summer in the fifties.... Too bad there aren't many of those small family farms left as big size and big money have changed it all....

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  5. I was never lucky enough to live on a farm, so it's all interesting to me. Those bales covered with white plastic look a lot like giant marshmallows to me. :-)

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  6. Working with hay sounds about as miserable as working in tobacco used to be around here. It is a sticky itchy job in the August heat. I love to watch those big farm machines work.

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  7. I thought all those golden fields around the refuge were wheat. Of course I don't know how to tell wheat from oats. I grew up in a big city.

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  8. Donnie would not be pleased that you have him in his 60's, he is 56, and Paul is 57. I don't know either how they manage to make it, old machinery, etc. But they do help each other out at times, which is so great in these times.

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  9. Hello,

    When making baleage (your large "marshmallow" bales, the baler makes a round bale the same as in your pictures, but the moisture content is much higher, as the hay is not allowed to dry as much. For example, dry round bales might be cut on a Monday and baled on a Wednesday, whereas baleage bales might be mowed on Monday morning and baled on Monday late afternoon. Then a separate piece of machinery, a bale wrapper, comes along and wraps the bale with the white plastic, producing baleage. Here in upstate NY, we make lots and lots of first cutting into baleage, as we seldom get the weather needed for dry bales.

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  10. My younger brother is still on the farm where I grew up, but he farms many acres in addition to the 200 on the farm. His equipment is massive and expensive, with all the latest digitized equipment. But he still bales those kind of square bales from his alfalfa fields that smell glorious. And the horse people from around the area come to him to pick up the hay at an unbelievable price per bale. Not farming as I remember it!

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  11. So glad there are farmers. I LOVE to see them working in their fields. I picture them sleeping so sound in the night

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  12. Making hay was my most hated job on the farm. As all my brothers moved away I ended up to be the last guy on the rack. I learned from the brothers on how to tie the bales together while stacking so we wouldn't lose the load while going around and down our very steep hills. Small time farmers really is rare as it takes so many acres to make a living these days.

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  13. I've heard the small farmer is becoming a thing of the past. I suppose you would know how it is around you. But here, we have several local farmers, so it doesn't seem that there is as much corporate pressure here. But over on the coast, I know it is different. Sad to see that happen. Don't know if it is just the economic pressures or what...hate to see any small businessman struggle...

    Thanks for answering my question on round vs. square :) Most everyone out here seems to opt for square...then again, we don't usually get any summer rain...

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  14. It's haying time here also...but for some reason they are not doing all of the fields at the same time...dragging it out, sweating, dusty, prickly job that it is.

    Jen

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  15. What memories of haying! After a whole summer you get used to the motion of the rack. Now my brothers and nephews have no cattle so no bales.

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  16. Hubby made money many summers throwing bales onto trailers for local farmers. The local Ag newsletter says aging small farm farmers is one of our biggest threats...

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  17. Nice rural shots. I bet haying is hard work - and hot too!

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  18. Nothing wrong with using old equipment - to purchase a new tractor or combine would be well into the six figure category.

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  19. Oh, this brings back memories too! We lived on a small farm in Oregon, and borrowed equipment from neighbors who had big farms when it was time to bale hay. I drove the tractor before I learned to drive a car, and we lifted and tossed bales onto the hay wagon.
    Now when we see the big round white plastic covered bales that just sit out in the field, we call it a marshmallow farm.

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  20. Sad that the small farms are slowly being devoured by the food industry. So it is nice to see this. :) :)

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie