Hay. Such a simple word for such a complex and much needed substance. Hay, dried grass, is what our livestock consumes each and every winter’s day. When the grass stops growing, it is hay that we start throwing. Now is hay making time. I know, I know the old adage “make hay when the sun shines” is oft used, but my oh my we made hay this past week. The sun shined and we had at it.
We do not have enough land of our own to make hay here. We are dependent on our neighbors Sometimes this is a terrible trial. In bad hay years, years too wet or too dry too hot or too cold, there just isn’t enough hay to go around. people get desperate to keep their livestock fed, and, well, you can only imagine. In an all out effort to prevent this from happening this coming winter, we forged new territory and took over management of our neighbor’s hay fields.
Orchestrating hay making is no easy feat, each of the many steps must be taken when the grass is dry, wetness and hay don’t mix, this means, rain or dew!
To make hay you first cut the grass, using a massive tractor pulled mowing machine. (there are many different types of mowers, a sickle bar mower, a flail mower, a disc mower) After some number of days the grass is raked with yet another large tractor pulled machine, into long windrows. The amount of time needed for the cut grass to be dry enough to rake and bale depends entirely on, you guessed it, the weather. Dry, sunny, windy, this is what you want to dry your cut field well and prepare it to be long lasting, good quality, hay.
Once cut, dried and raked, it is time to bale and now the fun begins. Up until now the operation has been tractor driven. At baling time, there are two options. The round bales, or rolls, are huge multi thousand pound behemoths that are moved entirely by tractors and were created to take the human hand out of hay making and feeding. We use the old fashioned square bales to feed our livestock and baling and storing these 50-75 pound treasures is a hands on operation.
And so we found ourselves on sunday, again on monday, and again on tuesday, spending long hot afternoons picking up bale after bale after bale. Some 900 bales we moved from the fields into dry, safe storage. Our barns are full, our neighbor’s barn also full. It feels good. Knowing we have food enough for our animals for the winter ahead. Gold in the barn indeed, the price: aching hands, sore arms, and some serious fatigue.
The remainder of the week was “normal” and found us weeding, planting, mulching, seeding, transplanting, all looking ahead to fall. The new plantings are starting to look so promising. We settle into a new phase on the farm, with two new friends sharing life in the hollow and some more moderate weather patterns, maybe the worst of it is behind us, maybe. Hope you all have a good week and that your transitions to the beginning of the school year (for those of you that are impacted by such) are smooth and easy.
week fourteen in your basket:
eggplant or tomatillos
Green Bean and Potato Salad from martha Stewart
6 ounces green beans
2 pounds peeled potatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1. Simmer green beans in salted water until barely tender and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or wire-mesh skimmer, and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain, and pat dry. Add potatoes to the same pot of salted water, and simmer until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes, and
halve them. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and thyme in a large bowl. Add potatoes, beans, and red onion. Gently toss. Season with salt.