Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Getting in the Hay

A nice 4-day window of sunny weather the other week gave my uncle in Ninilchik the break he needed to get his hay cut, fluffed, baled and into the barn. When he cuts the hay we go on notice, planning to run up there two to three days later to help pull the bales off the field and get them into the barn. Seems like most folks have gone to the large round bales which are less sensitive to moisture, but less portable as well. Round bales can be done with one person on tractor, while the square bales are kicked out of the machine and sit around the field. Each one needs to be picked up, thrown onto the flat-bed hay wagon, stacked on the wagon, driven to the barn, thrown off the wagon and then stacked. This year they pulled in 1200-1400 bales, and with the number of times each bales is lifted and thrown, one wants a big crew to lighten the load!

Of course haying is always done in hot, sunny weather (otherwise we wouldn't be haying!), and the hard work of lifting and throwing 35-45 pound bales makes for a sweaty enterprise! Constant close contact with the hay makes one feel itchy and icky, so the shower at the end is the biggest treat.

Here is a short video of our hay stacking coordination in the barn on our last load (hence the very fatigued movements!). Teamwork and communication are essential, and tempers get short as folks get tired. This year we got in 900 bales in 6 hours with a crew of varying sizes. With a 5 p.m. start, that meant we ate a brief dinner on the field rather than heading in for a feast afterwards, which is what we normally do. They baled and pulled in the rest the next day, though luckily some folks bought the bales and took the discount and pulled the bales off the field themselves. 

There is always a sense of accomplishment when we are done haying, along with appreciation of an amazing workout!

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