Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Doing It The Hard Way....But Doing It!

The weather forecast was looking good for the weekend, so we cut enough hay to keep plenty busy.  Saturday started great, with the field on the south side of the house ready to bale.  This is the timothy that Andy seeded with last year's oats

Just getting under way

Part way into the second wagon Andy came in with news that a part had failed.  One of the rollers that moves the belt that throws the bales (the ejector) had snapped.  Welding it wasn't going to be an option because of where the break occured within the roller.  We tried calling the dealer, whose store was closed (of course - Saturday afternoon), but he would send the shop foreman to check the inventory for the part.  That would take a couple of hours.  Rather than not be able to bale at all, Andy disabled the ejector and folded it up out of the way.  He could still bale, they would just fall on the ground and need to be picked up and loaded by hand.  When problems crop up we never say 'die' (although we say a heck of a lot of other words).

We were fortunate that Red was available to drive the tractor later.  Andy could walk in a zigzag between two rows of dropped bales and heave them onto the wagon for me.  I could then stack them neatly in the wagon. 

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, but more and bigger.  This time we were working in the lowest east pasture below the sheep barn.  The pasture had gotten so mature that there was no way the flock would make efficient use of it while it was still standing. Furthermore, they would NOT want to venture out into grass growing over their heads where they couldn't see their flockmates or potential danger (or even the way back to the barn!) The logical thing to do would be take it off as hay and let the flock down there after it grows back.  We are fortunate that it's atypically dry or we'd never get heavy machinery down there.  Well, we might get it down there but have a b**ch of a time getting it back!

Right now the sheep are working in the middle pasture, just above this one.  That one also could have been baled but then there would really be no place for them to graze, so we compromised - Andy ran the brush hog over it on the highest setting to take off the seed heads and reveal the undergrowth for better grazing.

The sheep seem to like the tire tracks and follow them into the field like pre-made trails.

The section we were baling was only about half the pasture.  That was all Andy figured we could reasonably manage, and that was before the ejector broke.  He raked up half the cut hay and started baling it while I raked up the other half.

It's a looong field.


The sheep were enjoying a great day - very windy, so no flies or bugs to bother them.

We finally got done baling about 5:30, so then we could start to work.  This time Julie got to be the driver.  We were lucky our two pals were available to help or we would have had to set the tractor into a granny gear and let it roll along by itself (with additional dashes over to make course corrections when it started to wander) while Andy picked up bales.  It would work and we both remember our fathers doing it when necessary, but it certainly would not be optimal.

OK.... Number one.....

We finally finished and got the loaded wagons under cover around 8:30.  Then we could do our regular 'sheep chores'.  Supper was lamb burgers and a tossed salad at 10:00 PM.  I'm pleased to report that neither of us was bedridden Monday morning.  Andy hadn't done that particular job for 35 years nor had I stacked on a wagon for 28. Apparently, you never forget the motions and I could still loft them five tiers high although I admit that toward the end I was making noises like a tennis diva hitting the ball.  (HAA!.......UNGH!......HHNG!). We handled 650 bales this way (still have to UNload the wagons but we would have had to do that anyway) which amounts to a little over fourteen and a half tons.  Total bales for the weekend was 1,050. 

You can romanticize about the good old days all you want, but give me hydraulics and pistons and mechanized efficiency any day.


  1. I'm impressed! I only helped do hay once (the hard way) and still remember just how hard a job it was.

  2. I miss those days of actually doing labor to provide for yourself and family.