Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hay! Another Season Begins

Whan the sunne shinth make hay.
Whiche is to say.
Take time whan time cometh,
lest time steale away.
John Heywood, English proverb, 1546
We've already had harvest - sort of. But it's not the "amber waves of grain kind" that gets all the publicity.

The guys did try cutting wheat yesterday afternoon. It tested more than 16 in moisture. Hurry up and wait! It was not an auspicious beginning anyway. Randy found something on the combine that wasn't working correctly, and we're on the list for a Case repairman to visit this morning. Yesterday morning, the guys went to pick up the truck from the repair shop in town, and it died on the way home. But it seems to be working after the follow-up visit. Let's hope it's not an omen of things to come!

We have completed the first cutting on a portion of our alfalfa crop. I'm late posting photos from the process. Randy began cutting alfalfa on May 30, but we're still not done with the first cutting in all our locations. Because of rain delays, we still have about 70 acres still to swath and bale. Miraculously, it wasn't down and getting wet each time it's rained in the last couple of weeks. (I'm not complaining about the rain. The moisture will help produce more hay for the next cutting.)
Randy estimates that what we've cut so far has averaged about 1/2 ton an acre. On a good year, we would average about 1.5 tons an acre, but the first cutting was impacted by the drought.

The aroma of freshly-swathed hay could do well as a home air freshener fragrance, I think.
The purple alfalfa blossoms against a blue sky? It's just another reason to love living and working in Kansas. It doesn't hurt that the purple seems patriotic to this K-State family.
After the alfalfa is swathed, it has to dry down enough to bale. Sometimes, if the hay gets rained on, the guys have to turn it over, using the rake. If the hay is baled wet, it can mold and won't be as valuable for feeding to our own cattle or for selling.
The guys raked two windrows together to make baling go more quickly (photo below shows two windrows raked together).
Then, when it's ready to bale, Randy pulls a baler using a tractor. Randy centers the tractor over the hay, and it goes into the baler.
Once the monitor indicates that there is enough hay for the bale, Randy stops and the baler has to sit and do its work, wrapping the bale in net wrap. Then it dumps out the round bale.
We feed the majority of the alfalfa we raise, though we do sell what's not needed for feeding to our cow-calf herd and the feeder calves that we retain during the winter months.
This close-up shows the net wrap on the hay bales. It helps protect the hay quality.

For at least some of our hay, this farm quote works, too:
There is no reason to fear the wind
if your stack of hay is well tied. 
Irish Proverb

Proverbs are all well and good. But, sometimes, they are easier said than done!


  1. Kim,
    We are getting close to hay season. The Rancher has intentions to start on Monday. They keep talking rain for us, so getting hay up right might be a challenge.

    We checked a field of beardless winter wheat that we are going to hay and it looks awesome. All the hay ground does. We just need to keep dodging the sever storms.

    Good luck with first cutting hay and hope you get the kinks worked out for wheat harvest.

    1. They are talking rain for us Wednesday night and Thursday, so we'll see how it goes. I just got back to the house after riding in the combine with Randy. There is definitely some mud in the fields.

    2. Kim,
      Prayers for a successful wheat harvest! I hope the weather cooperates and the breakdowns are few and far between.

      We got 2" of rain last night. There was a little bit of hail, but nothing damaging that we can tell.

      One of our friends outside of Sioux Falls got 4" of rain last Friday/Saturday and 9" Monday. He said it's a mess.

      My heart goes out to those at Pilger, NE. I can't imagine where one would start the clean up process.

    3. Nebraska has had additional tornadoes, too, so my sympathies for all those affected by this severe weather outbreak. Yes, just like drought, too much rain can be devastating, too. Thanks for the well wishes. We can use them!