Boy is the sun shining. Every day. Sun, sun, sun. Nothing but sun. All the sun the grass can eat. It’s time to put that grass away for later.
Let’s focus on the alfalfa field for now. The alfalfa field looked like this (well, not as many blooms). You want to allow the plants to get to about 10% bloom before you cut.
So we cut it three days ago with dad’s hay conditioner. It gobbles up the hay, crimps the stems and lays it gently in a windrow out back.
When you’re finished and it has cured for a couple of days you get a field like this:
If you look closely there’s a spot on the left where the alfalfa was killed. Our chicken tractors were on that spot when we got about 3″ of rain across a week but the bulk of the rain came toward the end. The chickens turned that spot into mush. The alfalfa gave up the fight. Otherwise, the chickens don’t seem to have hurt the stand and remember, they do this when they go past:
So, I have long windrows of alfalfa. It looks dry
but if we look closer we see it needs to be raked before we bale. The stuff underneath isn’t quite ready yet.
Grab a handful of stems and give them a twist. If they don’t break, they’re not ready. If they’re not ready you’ll end up with moldy hay at best, a barn fire at worst. But then, if it’s too dry all of the leaves will fall off and the hay will be all stems. Quality hay is a skill. It’s a skill I continue to work on and probably will for the rest of my life. Sigh…
Next I rake the windrows together, turning the hay so it will dry better, combining rows so we make fewer passes up and down the field baling. What’s a rake? This is a rake.
A few hours later and we’re ready to bale.
We baled and baled and baled. The bales may get moldy from all the sweat I soaked them with. No pictures of the baling process this time but you can look at the blog post from an earlier hay cutting.
The fields are bare now. Ready to grow back again, hopefully encouraged by a coming rain. Before the rain gets here I need to clean up the small piles of hay we missed with the baler. It’s not hard work, just one wheelbarrow at a time. Sometimes I carry an armload of hay as I ride my bicycle. That makes my wife laugh. Why is she always laughing at me? (lol)
Now it can rain. Please, Lord, let it rain. I’ll take a light rain that lasts 3 weeks. I’ll take a series of downpours over the next three days. Last night it sprinkled just enough that you could smell the rain on the hot tar of the road. That’s a summer-only smell…and I would like to smell more of it. Just let it happen, Lord. I’m ready.
Can I get an Amen?