Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hay Day: A Rookie on the Baler

It is the middle of July...the hay is ready for the first cut. (You'll get two cuttings and maybe 3 if the weather holds through the fall, but the first is always best). Watch the weather forcast, look for a span of about 4 days of heat, no rain. And it's as if the starting whistle blew at the's all action. The hay is cut, then raked a few times to fluff it up and turn it over to dry the other side: Wet hay makes for a bad meal for the cows and a dangerous situation in the barn as the fermenting process can cause enough heat to ignite.

Then the hay is baled, picked-up, and stacked in the barn. Here's where I come in: The hay needed baled. Everyone else was busy. Put the rookie on the baler. Even though I grew up on this farm, my brothers enjoyed the running of tractors more than I did, and they quickly passed me up on skill level so therefore, it was hard to make up any ground.

Here's what they tell you:
1.) Never turn the baler to the left! I don't care how you have to loop, always turn it to the right!
I'm not sure what would happen if I turned it the other way, but I got the impression that it was BAD.
2.) You'll note that this list is appallingly short.

Here's what they DON'T tell you:
1.) There's a well in the field surrounded by a deep ditch, don't get the tractor stuck in there.
2.) To engage the power take off you must push the clutch down all the way: stand on it.
3.) If you'd like to stop the tractor, you'd better do a quick calculation of topography, because gravity is going to have to come into play as the tractor's brakes are "not so great". (I found this out when the neighbor stopped by to chat with my Dad and they stood right in my path on a slight grade. I had to "shoo" them out of the way, there was no stopping.)
4.) The tractor/baler combo reacts like a wild snake when trying to back up on a grade with little brakes. My mental note for future: DON'T DO IT!
5.) If the hay gets stuck in the baler and it gets jammed, it's ok to try to force it through by rocking the power take off a little and revving the gas. But not too much or you might break something.
6.) Others who know what they are doing will get a good laugh at you. You are their entertainment for the day.
A note about the photo: I think there is a photo of my brothers and I just like this for every summer while we were growing up.


Jennifer Juniper said...

Who would'a thought these two suburban housewives have experience hayin'? Fond memories of riding on the fender with my boyfriend while he hay'd. Oh, sorry, daydreaming...

the treat girl said...

Starting my gas grill scares the bejeebies out of I can't fathom rolling through the fields baling hay!!!!!!!!!Rock on sister friend!!!!...and make sure you take the picture every year!