Tag Archives: hay

My Last Hay Field


This evening I am feeling wistful. I have cut my last hay field. Over the Memorial Day weekend, I had a window of sunny, dry weather. It was perfect for making hay. So I did.

Last summer I made close to 1,000 bales. Most of that hay was unloaded and stacked in the barn by me. I had a helper once in a while. Otherwise, I was on my own. The trouble is I tore my rotator cuff when pitching all that hay. I ended up in surgery in January. My doctor told me no more manhandling hay.

I intended to sell the hay equipment on Craigslist. Then the nice weather came, and the tall grass beckoned. I had to test the equipment out to be sure it worked before selling it, didn’t I?

There’s a wonder for me in farming. My ancestors farmed, on top of running businesses or teaching students or treating patients or working in laboratories. Though they had other “white collar” employment, they farmed. I have an M. B. A., and I write. Yet if I could, I would farm full-time.

That is, when I am not sailing, traveling, gardening, cooking, horseback riding, hiking, mischief-making, and spending time with family and friends. Yes, I would farm.

last hay cutting 2013

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When Life Throws You a Curve Ball


It’s crazy. Just when I have plotted out my life for the next umpteen months and settled back to work the plan, Life throws me a curve ball. It shouldn’t surprise me.

Enough seasons have passed through my earth-bound existence that I should know better than to think any long-term plan will play out exactly as I have envisioned it. It must be the optimist in me, for I keep planning.

Or maybe it’s my insanity. You know the old definition of lunacy: doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different outcome.

However, my recent roadblocks are just that–little obstacles. The unanticipated hiccups don’t really change my plans. My destination is still the same: write books. Now, I will have a few detours through unfamiliar neighborhoods. That can be a good thing, right? It adds color, dimensions, flavor to my collection of life experience.

I’ll stop rambling and be more concrete.

I make my living by farming. I make hay, cut wood, and grow vegetables for selling. This year I planned to add the sale of landscaping stone to my product line. Due to another hiccup in my life plan, my way of making a living was to be more important than ever in 2013. But. . . .

Karma has other plans. I have torn my rotator cuff. I am scheduled for surgery soon and will be convalescing for six months afterward. No farming this season. No farming means no income.

Thankfully, there is nothing wrong with my brain. So I have to ask myself, is the Universe clearing a path for me to write?

On Top of Everything Else


In the real world, writers don’t write when they should.

The real world overwhelmed my writer’s world on 10/10/2012. The quotation I posted that day became my mantra.

Why?

Here’s the text of an e-mail sent to a friend about my day. Read it and you’ll understand. All this on top of getting ready for husband’s surgery. Yikes.

Exhausted tonight. Trying to keep too many balls in the air.  So much to do before hubby’s surgery and to finish harvest and get ready for winter.
Cut hay today. Cut part of main yard and push mowed back yard. Planted fig tree and mulched it. Picked Swiss chard. For dinner used chard, tomatoes, pickled peppers and eggs from our own homestead. Made salmon patties with 2 veggies above as sides. The chard was amazing. Lightly steamed with balsamic vinegar-honey-butter dressing. Killer good.
Garden remnants:
I have ancho peppers to pick, de-seed, slice and dry. Banana peppers will get pickled. Green beans are plentiful and will get canned. Beets will be cooked for dinner. Remaining chard will be frozen. Potatoes have to be dug and stored. Sweet peppers and egg surplus will be frozen.
Got the haybine cleaned up after cutting tonight. It’s tarped and put away for winter. The cut hay looks good. I hope it dries nicely. Dew was still on grass in my yard in shady areas at 3 pm! It’s hard to get hay to dry in those conditions. Warm up will help.
Repairs
Got the gate back on the hay wagon. It’s ready to go. Called the repair guy for the tractor.  Need it to get winter wood out of the woodlot.  I have to take my car for warranty oil change in next day or two.

Making Hay While the Sun Shines


Literally. That’s what I have been doing for the past two days.

The heat is record-breaking. The hay should cure quickly. I doubt any bales will mold from too much moisture or ignite from spontaneous combustion, a problem that comes from too much moisture in tightly compacted grass.

On the tractor, I enjoy watching a crow as it flies back and forth over the newly cut rows. It is in search of an easy meal. I note the bedding spot of fawns, hidden in the tall grass.  And I marvel at how thick the grass is this year compared to last year.

All idyllic sights and thoughts.

That is, until the muffler falls off the tractor. The muffler exhausts through the cover over the engine on the topside of the tractor. When the engine runs, the exhaust pipe with muffler gets HOT. It can be hot enough to ignite dry grass.

The freshly cut grass is moist. I am wondering whether the fallen muffler presents a fire hazard.

I have no work gloves with me, since my chore of mowing wasn’t supposed to include mechanical malfunctions. I look in the small storage box under the tractor seat and find two greasy rags.

As a girl, I hate grease, especially on me. But I can’t leave the pipe and muffler where it has fallen in the field, so I use the greasy rags to pick it up and carry it to a shaded dirt patch at the edge of the field. On a dirt patch, there is nothing to ignite.

That task done, I get back to work. Round and round I go. The sound is now deafening without a muffler. My ears are ringing. Salt droplets are running down my face and into my eyes. Dust kicked up from the cutting is irritating my eyes. My neck, which I tried to protect with upturned collar, sunscreen and a brimmed hat, feels like it is burning in the sun. I’m parched.

I have three swaths to go.

I should finish before traffic picks up on our road from workers who are homebound at the end of their day. Since the tractor and equipment take up both lanes of the road, I want to have the road to myself when I move between home and the field.

Sputter. Cough.  Silence. The tractor dies. It won’t restart.

I cut the ignition off, climb down and walk home. There is a heat advisory. I am dressed in a hat, long-sleeved shirt, long pants and boots — in case I have to get off the tractor in the long grass. I want to fend off ticks, bees and snakes, as well as the brutal sun. I never anticipate hiking in this garb.

Isn’t this a perfect illustration of the writer’s life? We make preparations and start out on a project, thinking it will go one way. Then surprises pop up, affecting the plan. One never knows which direction the detours will take.

One can cry about it or adjust.

My Summer Job


Not too long ago I told you about my summer job. It’s the work I do that let’s me keep writing. I’m farming on a very small scale.

I sold memberships in my vegetable garden. This week I make my first client deliveries. My customers will receive asparagus, Bibb lettuce, radishes, Swiss Chard, rhubarb and two dozen brown eggs from my darling henny penny girls. Next week is  unclear, though I think it will be mixed salad greens, spinach, radishes, peppermint, oregano, Swiss Chard and more eggs. My customers get whatever is ripe in the garden.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have planted 10 varieties of heirloom tomatoes — 40 plants in all! Somebody, besides me, is going to be preserving lots of red, yellow and purple fruits — tomato sauce, ketchup, jam, pickles and any other concoction one can dream up for tomatoes.

And don’t get me started on the varieties of peppers (capsicums for my Aussie friends) . . . .

Furthermore, I make hay on small fields — two to seven acres. Today I stacked 70 bales of mixed grass horse hay. Since I have three horses, I put up my own hay first. Then I will sell whatever I have left over. I use about 300 bales per year. That’s girly sized square bales about 30 lbs. apiece. Big ol’ burly man bales can weigh 50 pounds. If I pitched those, I’d need should surgery for a torn rotator cuff.

So if I happen to skip a day here or there writing on the blog, you’ll know where I am.