Hot Hay Making

July 4, 2011 2 Comments

This past weekend was just what I needed on my hobby farm.  I needed a warm and dry spell to make bedding for my flock of 150 chickens.  I had cut down some long grass on my property and nearby areas last Thursday.   As the old saying goes, “make hay while the sun is shining”.  Four days in a row of sunny and toasty weather dried that cut grass into a fluffy string of bedding for me.

I feel like I’ve gone full circle back to the roots of say my grandparents 80 years ago.  They didn’t have the fancy high tech equipment of modern farming.  There was a lot of manual labor involved.  It was real hands on, getting dirt and dust in your hair type of farming.  Now, don’t get me wrong, modern farming certainly is a good thing in many ways.  I don’t know how we would feed 6 plus billion people in the world without it.  But there is something really neat about tending a small plot of land, coaxing it to be productive, then using the yield in a variety of ways.  It’s a cool concept not having to ship inputs in from long distances and rely on equipment made hundreds or thousands miles away.

This old fashioned approach I’ve been taking on my hobby farm has it’s downsides to be sure.  Just ask my wife and children.  It is not comfortable working out in the hot early July sun for 4 or 5 hours getting sweaty and dusty.  I can’t tell you how many gallons of water and juice we drank during our hay making weekend!  We were smart and took frequent breaks, found shade to sit in, and even had some misting bottles to cool us down.  Still we had blisters, sore muscles, tired back and legs, and very dirty clothes by the time we were done. 

Since I don’t even own a side rake to pull behind a tractor, we raked the cut grass up with your typical garden rake.  After the grass was sufficiently dry, we then scraped it up with pitch forks, and threw it in a trailer and truck.  Then we hauled it to our shed where we had to unload it with forks.  What seemed impossible when we first started, gradually became possible after seeing each load gradually pile up in our shed.   

Even though it was hard work, it offered some really fun moments.  I shared some hardy giggles with my kids as we rode on top of the trailer of hay back to the shed.  We sang some goofy country songs and enjoyed our time very much.  My kids also enjoyed climbing and jumping on the mountain of hay in our shed.

From a meteorological perspective, hay making involves watching when the dew evaporates off the grass in the morning.  You don’t want to rake up the hay before that.  It seemed to disappear around 10:00 a.m. or so this weekend.  You notice how once the breeze picks up in the morning, the drying really increases.  Finally, I noticed how when the ground is really dry, it radiates the sun’s heat back up to you like a brick furnace.   I could literally feel the warmth climb up my body from the ground.

So, this hay making weekend brought back many memories for me of my childhood days on my parents’ farm.  I hope my children take from this experience that something doesn’t need to be easy or expensive to be  enjoyable and worthwhile.  And we’ll have the satisfaction of putting the nice green, fluffy, and aromatic bedding into the chicken house all year long!

About the Author:

StormTrak9 Meteorologist with WAOW-TV in Wausau, WI. Also the owner of Great Lakes Weather Service, LLC.

Comments (2)

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  1. Tom Dalton says:

    Great story! I enjoy reading about anything related to old style country living.

  2. patsy says:

    hello. tony i know you’s don’t know me but i am from tomahawk wisc and i wanted to know if you and your wife would like to gold panning i have a spot here in price county and got about 3 ounces . and i would like to show you a good time if you would like to go . just send me a email . good stories remind me of home on the farm my grandparents had . i miss that old place . keep it up . thanks.

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