Hay Day on the Farm

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Yessss… It is September and we are finally done with hay!

I have talked and even shared a few pictures of what we do around the farm here before, but I now I can actually take you out with me as we do all this crazy farm stuff…and the best part is you will not even get a drop of hay chaff on you!

I picked myself up a new little camera specifically for vlogging. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE my Nikon DSLR, but it is big and clumsy, especially when you happen to be bouncing around in a pick-up truck or in the middle of a hay field.

This whole video thing is new to me, and I have a ton to learn, but I am excited to invite you along for the (sometimes bumpy ride) on the farm.

Ok, back to the hay.

Baling square bales is a huge part of what we do on the farm. The bales typically weigh about 40 pounds. These small square bales ( called that even though they are technically rectangular) are the original hay bale.

Ed Nolt, a Pennsylvania Dutchman, invented the prototype for the New Holland small square baler back in the 1930s. His patent was purchased and mass produced during the 1940s. It was an instant hit on farms across the United States.

Nolt’s invention made it easy to gather and bind dried forage and put it into a package that could be easily stacked. It was a hands down winner over manually picking up loose hay in the field, forking it onto a flat wagon, then hoisting it into the barn using large hooks and some sort of pulley system.

But as farms grew and technology developed to different ways to handle and process hay in larger packages, these small bales fell out a favor, with fewer farms producing the small square bales. But the recent boom in small hobby-type farms and backyard homesteading has created a niche market for these smaller packages of hay. And that is where most of our hay ends up: small homesteads feeding dairy goats, horse enthusiasts, and as a part of specialized feeding programs on large dairy farms.

Hay is tricky, a large part of your success is dependant on the weather.  Hay needs hot low moisture days to dry, and if you remember there wasn’t a lot of those days this summer. But we were still able to get through both 1st and 2nd cutting, and put up some good looking hay in the process.

Hay is also labor intensive, and it does require a certain amount of mental preparation.  This is the typical thought process of anyone even remotely involved in the unloading of  hay on hay day:

  1. Okay, it’s time to bale hay, no big deal, we do this every year. I’ve got this!
  2. Why do we always do hay on the hottest day of the year??
  3. It’s just a little hay dust and allergies, I’ll be fine…
  4. Need water…
  5. How many more wagons??
  6. Ok, last year I did 7 wagons in a row…I’ve still got this
  7. I’m not in as good of shape as I thought…
  8. To whoever is in the haymow: Yes, I am putting the bales on the elevator right, I have no idea why they keep falling off!!
  9. My arms itch!!
  10. Ok, maybe if I line up the bale a little more it won’t fall of the elevator.
  11. Are we done yet?
  12. Where do all these wagons keep coming from?? I didn’t even know we had that many wagons!!
  13. How did hay chaff get there????
  14. I can not wait to get home and take a cool shower.
  15. I am literally dying.
  16. Last wagon, I’ve got this!
  17. What?!?!? We have to do this again tomorrow???

I’ve got to say I am glad another hay season is behind us, it was a crazy one this year!

Read more about Ed Nolt at Lancaster Farming

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