Grass Makes Good Hay
By Frank J. Buchman
“Make hay when the sun shines.”
That’s a lot easier than when it’s raining. There are less problems, it’s more efficient and most importantly the hay is higher quality, more valuable.
The ranch manager and a couple of custom operators plus a hay hauler put up headquarter’s brome faster than ever.
In just three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, about 60 acres were swathed down, baled and moved into storage.
While tonnage wasn’t as high of a year earlier, quality appears excellent without scientific analysis. Certainly, there wasn’t any spoilage in the field or dampness in the bales.
Efficiency of the hay harvest this year brought back not so pleasant memories of putting up hay for five decades.
It was a Dad and son task in the beginning. A five-foot sickle bar mower, rattle trap rake, John Deere twine baler and pickup truck were the implements.
No hay wagon, small square bales dropped on the ground to be picked up by hand to load the pickup. It was easier if one was driving the truck and the other loading the 36 bales. That often wasn’t the case as the baler had to keep going because rain was in the forecast.
The then-younger cowboy loaded one bale then drove the truck ahead to pick up the next bale. A small open-sided shed was used for some storage with each bale piled one at a time.
Of course, the barn loft had to be filled too and that was a major ordeal even for two men. Dad pushed bales onto the hay elevator and son stacked in the hot dusty unventilated barn.
Big round balers were a newfangled invention then but a neighbor cowgirl-farmer bought one to do custom haying. Handling big bales was a lot easier than small bales but required different equipment.
Common nowadays pickup bale beds were almost unheard-of then but one was acquired direct from the factory. It was operated by the truck battery and due to poor installation killed the motor before arriving at the ranch.
Those hiring hay put up are at the mercy of custom operators who have their own set of problems. This hay season is off to a good start.
Reminded of Proverbs 10:5: “Make hay while the sun shines, that’s smart; go fishing during harvest, that’s stupid.”