Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Raking Hay

The following contains material that some readers may find boring...especially if you've ever been around hay baling. Of course, even if you haven't, you may still find it boring. But at least it might give you a little insight into the way a lot of farm wives spend many a summer afternoon. Anyway, you've been warned. Read on at your own discretion. :)

When the weather gets cold and the grass isn't growing, cattle, sheep, etc., still need to eat. So quite a bit of time in the summer is spent putting up hay for them for the winter. First, a section of the hayfield is mowed in swaths with a hay mower. Here's what the raker (oftentimes otherwise known as Farmwife) sees when she comes to the field:

The rake rolls the hay from right to left (unless you're using one of those big wheel rakes) so you have to go around the outside of the field first to throw in the first swath.

Otherwise it ends up in the part that's not mowed or on the fence. Then you turn around and go back the other way. If the hay isn't too thick, you might rake two or three swaths together to make a "windrow."

Why they call it that, I don't know. Anyway, when you get the whole thing raked into windrows, it's ready to be baled, either into big round bales (for the cattle) or small square bales to be fed by hand (for the sheep or horses).

Also, my getting ready to go rake is quite a little production. I don my sunscreen, long sleeves, hat, gloves, and sunglasses. (It's quite a sight.) Then I grab my water to take to the field and I'm ready to go. Just another typical summer afternoon.


Knitted Gems said...

Fascinating, PDH! I've learned 2 things from your blog: bamboo yarn and hay harvest.
I always wondered how the farmers got the hay into those huge balls. Plus, I had no idea that harvesting the hay was women's work. Isn't it heavy? What is your husband doing while you're out hacking the hay down? I suppose I should visit the family farm more often .....

Prairie Daisy Handspun said...

Knitted Gems, actually my raking is just one step in the whole process. My husband does the mowing...then the hay has to be left to dry before it's raked and baled. He also has a full-time off-farm job, so I often rake it while he's at work. Then when he gets home, it's ready for him to bale. When they put it up in small square bales, they can be pretty heavy, but loading them onto the wagon and into the barn is left to the men also (on our farm, anyway). The big bales like the one in the picture are moved with the loader on the tractor.

Bonny said...

I LOVE the smell of freshly mown hay! As a kid, I used to go lie in the middle of the field and pretend that nobody could see me there while I read a good book :) Yup, I was such a geeky kid ...

Prairie Daisy Handspun said...

Sounds like fun to me!


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