Hay Baling, 6/7/18
Posted on June 7, 2018 Posted by John Scalzi 31 Comments
And now, one in an occasional series of reminders that in fact I live in rural America: Here’s my neighbor, in the hay field across from my property, baling the summer’s first crop of the stuff. After the hay’s been cut and baled, the field basically looks like my yard for a while, until the next crop comes up. It occasionally makes me wonder what would happen if we just stopped cutting our lawn for a while, and then invited our neighbor to come bale it up and take it away. Pretty sure it doesn’t actually work like that, though.
Actually, it depends on the type of grass.Timothy grass hay is considered to be one of the best strains for horses.
Is this high season for mice now? Cats must be drunk with victory.
Indeed we are seeing tributes from our cats showing up on the doorstep on a regular basis.
Personally, I don’t get the attraction of enormous lawns. I’d rather see well-grown prairie grass filled with wildflowers and birds’ nests (and snakes and mice). But mowing for hay is fruitful and if it gives you the I-live-on-a-golf-course satisfaction a few times a year, that would be, I suppose, a bonus.
I helped a farmer friend bale hay in high school. Nasty, difficult, exhausting work. Your fingers feel like they are going to fall off from grabbing the baling wire and the dust invades every pore. Yuk!!!
I’m surprised to see the rectangular bales, rather than the huge round bales that I see so much in my area (Texas.) Is it because they have a (relatively) small field, or is it the type of hay?
I think you should ask your neighbor. Last time I got Bermuda grass hay (110lb bales) it was $19.25/bale.
It may not matter where you live, but on the edges of suburbia in Kansas, keeping a field in hay is a way to ensure it stays classified as agricultural. This keeps the property taxes down while you wait for a developer to throw large wads of cash in your direction.
If it’s not treated with anything, maybe he could use it. Ask him!
An extra source of passive income.
Never hurts to ask.
Depends on the type of grass. Timothy is common for both lawns and hay.
That’s some old school gear right there. Tractor and baler look like the ones my uncle was using when I was the guy on the wagon throwing bales 35 years ago. Nothing prettier than an old tractor in a fresh cut hayfield.
Oh, how I love that smell! Yeah, it makes me sneeze sometimes but I love it anyway. Makes me think of sunshine, swimming, and snuggling.
Goood GAWD. fifty-pound back-breaker square bales, on an old slider baler??? That is ooooold-school man. That is the most labor intensive way to move hay without resorting to pitchforks and scythes.
Looks like a 1960’s or 1970’s Case tractor, an -old- New Holland baler, and the guy on the wagon drew short straw.
kicking it old school
Your cats will be very upset if you don’t eat the mice they give you!
Friends of mine who stopped mowing, wound up with a lovely meadow. Might not be super popular in your neck of the woods, though. Their meadow is behind a hedge and probably about the size of your dining room. Might be fun to let 1/4 acre to a full acre go and see what happens. Then if you want to you can be a certified wildlife refuge. Or not.
Is this the neighbour who would do half a job by mowing a Trump sign and leaving it at that?
When I was a kid, my parents would do this. We had a very huge back yard (it was later divided into 3 large lots). They would let the grass grow and then a really nice retired guy would come and cut & bale it. My brother and I would watch in absolute fascination. Fond memory.
I married into a farm family. Many memories of walking behind the bailer and throwing the bales onto the trailing flatbed, and then heaving them up into the loft in the barn.
But I agree with all the comments asking “why bales, instead of rolls?” My late FIL had old equipment and only 30 acres or so for hay, so for him (with free labor from the family, aside from the cost of the BBQ and crab feast afterwards–we lived in Southern MD) old style bales made sense. Besides, my wife’s horses ate up most of what he put up anyway.
We moved to Iowa from Detroit, and I was shocked to find a field right behind my suburban house. Mostly they grow corn and soybeans, but sometimes they grow alfalfa for hay. I find the hay field beautiful.
Been there, done that. Nothing better than jumping in the lake after an afternoon of baling, and then the obligatory barbecue or fried chicken dinner!
Where I live in Tennessee, baling the front 4.5 acre of field grass is keeping us in the green part of taxes. I am ambivalent about the whole field; the birds love it when it goes to seed, the turkeys lay their eggs there, the deer hide their fawns without knowing the danger of mowing, the mice from it invade our housing territory, the hawks love the mice, the butterflies love the milkweed, . . . how can one not wonder that the hay is a comfort to many.
Having grown up in Nebraska I remember “putting up hay” in the summers during my youth in the 1960s. I think the most money my friends and I ever made was maybe 50¢ an hour, and it was hard, sweaty, dirty and dangerous work. In the fields you had to be careful about snakes; in the grass, beneath the bales, or – and I saw this many times – partially baled within the hay. Pretty freaky lifting a bale onto your knee to boost it onto the trailer to find half a snake bobbing in your face!
Then the worst part: stacking the bales in a dark, sweltering barn. I remember the sun beams slicing through the cracks between boards (or bullet holes!) in which you could see the air filled with chaff. I always wore a bandana around my nose and mouth because of allergies but most of the balers didn’t bother and later would choke up brownish globs of stuff they shouldn’t have been breathing in the first place.
Bad as it sounds, those were some of the best times of my life. I wouldn’t trade the memory of a long, hot, sunburned day in the field and in a stiflingly hot barn that ended with me and my friends drinking an ice cold Coca-Cola with our feet dangling from a hayloft door as we gazed out at the majesty of a purple sunset in an endless sky over the unmatched beauty of the Platte river valley.
As many of the above posts have said .. there is a strong nostalgia associated with being involved with haying in the decades gone by. Its a strong component of your typical small farm routine. The smells, the dust, the sweat, the work, the meals .. all about as memorable .. both good and bad .. as its gets. (As an aside .. I believe a good high school friend’s family owned that farm pictured back in the 1960’s).
Just thinking out loud here but maybe the rolls are when you can bring the cattle or other grazing animals to the hay but baling is when you need to store it. I’m not a farmer though, so could be wrong..
Re: square bales versus round…. Depends on the application. Round bales are much bigger and heavier, and will require a tractor to move. On a big farm you can drop one out for a large number of cows. Smaller bales require less equipment and are better suited for someone feeding one or a few animals one man-portable bale at a time.
I’ve never baled. But I’ve spread baled straw reclaiming construction sites, and tossing bales into the garage at the start of the summer and onto the pickup and spreading them onto the site made for long days.
I learned to drive a stick driving the flatbed bailing hay. Imagine my chagrin when I got big enough to have to get out and actually buck bales and some other little kid learned to drive a stick.
Re: round vs square bales. Round bales are easier to put up and make more sense if you have large herds of animals and don’t have to monitor individual consumption; however, they’re harder to move and store. Square bales are more work initially, but after that are more versatile. And you’ve never lived until you’ve had to hack chunks off a round bale to feed horses that are kept in stalls. Never again.
SQUARE bales! (she says yearningly) Around here they mostly do round bales, for cattle. There are few farm-machinery sights funnier than watching a round baler poop out bales.
Actually, as long as your neighbor has all his equipment RIGHT THERE, he might be willing to do your yard (which IIRC from photos is pretty damn large). Go ask him! The biggest expense seems to be getting all the equipment in place to cut, rake, and bale, and then load up the bales. You’re probably not going to get nice sharp corners and such, but he might take down most of your yard.
I don’t know if there is anything in this world that smells as good as fresh cut hay. Hell on my allergies, but it’s completely worth it.
I did this type of work this the same equipment one summer while in high school in the mid-60’s. All summer, six days a week for 10-12 hours a day. The farmer I worked for was a contract bailer. That is, he bailed other farmer’s fields for cash. After a while you pray for rain (a day off) even if you’re an atheist.
bonus: Happened in Tipp CIty, Ohio (near you).
double bonus: dated the farmer’s daughter (giggity!)