Making Hay
Week of June 22nd, 2003 | The weather was sunny.

I'm raking hay.

I'm raking hay.

I'm 15! My birthday was Monday. I received money, cards, a computer game, a pair of jeans, and printing software for our computer. I also had a bonfire party Friday night. About 15-20 of my friends showed up. We had a lot of fun!

This past week, Dad and I have been harvesting first crop hay. We call it first crop because it is the first hay harvested for the season. The hay will grow back and you can get a second crop in July or August. If you're really lucky and have good weather, you can even harvest a third crop! We completed harvesting 74 acres by Saturday evening.

When we cut hay with the hay bine, it is usually between knee high and waist high. In our hay fields, we like to see a lot of red clover, alfalfa, and timothy. These are varieties of grass plants. We mix the grass seed and plant it while we plant barley. This way, after the barley is harvested, the hay will start growing and by the next summer, the hay is ready to cut.

After cutting hay, we wait about three to four days so the cut hay can dry. (Those days need to be sunny!) When the hay is dry, Dad and I rake it with the hay rakes. We make the windrows from the hay bine into larger windrows and make it easier to bale it. After raking the hay, it needs a few hours to dry again. Then, it is time to bale it!

We hire a guy to bale our hay for us. This way, we do not have to purchase a very expensive large rectangular baler. They can cost up to $100,000! After baling is finished, there are many large rectangular bales sitting in the hay field. Now, we have to use hayracks and the John Deere 740 loader to transport them from the field to the shed.

We can stack 16 bales on one hayrack. With four hayracks and two bales on the loader, we can bring 66 bales of hay from the field to the shed at one time. The shed is a large hoop building. This building only has one gate- on the south end. We want the north end open to drive the tractor and loader in and out with the hay. We have the bales of hay made in three different sizes so we can fit as many bales in the building, as possible. Seventy percent of the bales made are 7 feet and three inches long. Twenty percent of the bales are 8 feet long. Ten percent of the bales are 6 feet long. We need different sizes so we can fit the bales near the top of the hoop building where it arches.

We can place 26 bales of hay in one row. We can fit 2 rows in the hoop building. A total of about 600 large rectangular bales of hay can be stored in our hoop building.

We need all this hay so the cowherd can eat during the wintertime. In the winter, we usually have cold temperatures and snow on the ground causing the grass not to grow. We have three hay feeders for this purpose.

We have to make sure that the hay is not too wet and not too dry when storing it in the shed. We do not want the hay to get moldy, so we certainly have to make sure it's not too wet when baling. If the hay is too wet, it can get very hot in storage and a fire can start. Then, we would have a serious problem! If the hay is too dry, the leaves fall off and the hay is not as good as a feed source.

There have been two major headlines in this week's newspaper. The first one is about three major agricultural chemicals that are used to grow corn. (Not to us, though!). These chemicals have been linked to reduce sperm count among farmers in Missouri.

The second major headline is that McDonald's food chain has decided to start purchasing meat certified with no antibiotic use in it. Maybe this will encourage many farmers not to use so many antibiotics. This is a good choice that McDonald's has made for the consumer.With this being a busy time for planting and growing season of field crops, don't forget to check out my Glossary of Farm Terms page. You can find many farm terms listed and their definitions. Scroll to the top of this page and click on Glossary of Farm Terms.

Farm Fact: A field of growing hay needs to be harvested before the hay becomes too mature. If the hay is harvested late, the feeding value is reduced. Young hay has lots of protein but as it gets older the protein is reduced and the hay has more fiber content. Fiber is of less value than protein.

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