Life Lessons from Bailing Hay
Harvest season is here, but the hay season is over. The hay mow is filled and we are ready for the winter.
Here at Wellington Acres we still bail the 'old fashioned' way, which in today's modern terms is simply 'small square' bales. Speaking strictly in terms of haying technology, square bales are nearly three generations past their prime but it works best for our hobby farm size and our horses love it! We hay as a family, and our girls are part of the process.
But haying is hard work. There’s no doubt about that. For us it is many times over through a process that is hot, sweaty, itchy, at the heights of summer. It is the hardest you will work with the least amount of money ever made. Yet, the value of the time spent can not be measured in dollars and cents. The bulk of our debt is paid in sweat and the slightly nauseated feeling one gets at the end of a long day of tossing square bales.
You learn patience and diligence. You must work quickly, efficiently, but with a measure of patience. You have to make hay when conditions are right. You need the perfect combination of the following: plenty of sunshine, low humidity, reasonably warm temperatures, a light breeze, no chance of rain for several days ... this is not always easy in our climate! It is not a one and done process, you need to cut the hay, then rake the hay, bail the hay, then stack the hay.
You'll uncover more grit and gumption than you know. hefting the bales onto the wagon 'surfing' the wagon as you move to and fro and then restacking it into perfectly square rows upon rows as an art form. There really is not a whole lot of talent to hefting the bales; it is sheer brute strength. But there is truly an art to stacking hay well. Bales need to be solidly placed, stable and there is a pattern to great stacking.
It also never fails that the best time to bale is during the hottest days of July and August, in the middle of the day. Baling during the heat eliminates the possibility of the hay having too much moisture and spoiling or catching your barn on fire. Despite the heat, wearing long pants and sleeves is still preferred because the amount of chaff is insane.
There’s nothing like rest when you’re really tired. Some of the best nights of sleep we have ever had were putting up hay. It is a great of a feeling to put your head to a pillow feeling tired but very accomplished.
Pride is derived from a job well done. More than the smell of fresh hay is all your hard, sweaty, back-breaking work will be worth it. In the winter when it is subzero temps and your animals are hungry, you'll find Summer is extracted one bail at a time. It is a simple luxury of the satisfaction only hard labor can provide and we will smile and laugh at the snorts of appreciation from our barn dwellers.