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Tractor Seat or Trowel?

July 16, 2013
Thunder clouds moving up the Cascades

Thunder clouds moving up the Cascades

Making hay is an anxiety ridden job.  Wholly time sensitive, getting hay cured properly and stored properly is enough to cause even the most laid back farmer to become a little crazed.  For the record, I am not a laid back farmer…



I knew yesterday when I parked the hay rake in its final resting place until next summer, I might be jinxing the best hay we saved for last.  This time of year the thunderstorms form and move up the Cascades from the south to the north.  Sometimes they sneak over the ridges and move west.  Our farm in on the western flanks of the Cascade mountain range 😦

You never want to get your hay wet, but the further you are along in the process the harder it is on the hay quality.  Mowed and flat still, not so bad.  Second best (if you could call it that) would be raked, and worst is in the bale and not enough time to haul the hay and get it under cover.

We’ve had thunder already this morning, and I can see and smell the rain as the clouds pass by.  We are so dry though that the rain is evaporating before it ever hits the soil.

Jane's hay

Jane’s hay

So we wait, and try to look on the bright side of this possible rain.  We need it, and I need to plant my fall brassicas.  So if the rain comes it will be a blessing on one side of the ledger and a negative on the other.  That’s farming folks!  I’m choosing trowel.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2013 10:22 am

    Hoping this time the rain holds off a bit. Why was I thinking you were back East all this time? There’s no predicting Pacific NW weather… 😉

  2. July 16, 2013 10:35 am

    Oh I can relate to that. The summer has been so dry, but it rained on the hay whilst flat, actually while Ian was still cutting at one point, but all was so dry that I think we got away with that one. Then we got one load of hay under cover and it rained on the bales – fortunately we have round bales, unfortunately not the large round bales that will sit out all winter, but again I think we got away with it as it was only the surface that got wet and it felt dry in the middle. We waited a day for the outer layer to dry and then we stacked the rest and got it under cover before the next lot of rain and yet still we are so dry and praying for rain. Our land and where we live are about 5 miles apart and whilst the land has had rain, here at home we’ve had about ten spots on our allotments in all that time. Or maybe a slight dampening and that is all. I guess it is no wonder that all we want to do at the moment is sleep.

  3. Ben permalink
    July 16, 2013 11:00 am

    I think we got about ten drops this morning. I do always feel guilty wishing we’d get the thunderstorms when I know folks have hay on the ground. Most folks here are in between cuttings or already on their second, we had a dry spring and folks were cutting sooner than I can remember.

  4. July 16, 2013 12:42 pm

    Plant your fall brassicas? Gosh. I’m 3 weeks away from that. Maybe turnips. Maybe.

    I’m absolutely with you on the hay anxiety. Probably two more cuttings to go this year. Could have cut 5 times last year. I’m a little concerned about this winter. Still have 100 or so bales from last year though.

    • July 22, 2013 8:21 am

      HFS, must be nice to have such a growing season! If I don’t plant that stuff now, and I’m talking transplants not seeds, it won’t get to harvesting stage in time.

      I am glad we don’t live where the number of cuttings causes so much consternaton, we graze the hay fields early and make second cut quality hay in July, weather permitting, and then we’re done. One cutting. Phew. We put up some real nice clover hay for Jane and the rest of the hay isn’t too bad either.

      • July 22, 2013 8:50 am

        I can grow 3 different crops in most of my garden rows and I still don’t have enough garden space…

        Neighbors took 5 cuttings of alfalfa last year. We didn’t think the 5th would dry but since they were making big bales they can be more flexible…

  5. Mich permalink
    July 16, 2013 1:31 pm

    I can relate to the hay making and the weather, we used to cut around 20acres worth to feed my cows and sheep.
    Talk about obsessed with the local weather forecast, it was a big sigh of relief to get it all under cover.
    This year the weather is so hot, perfect for cutting & making silage/hay but of course I’m not hay making this year!! Wouldn’t mind some rain for the vegetable garden and the farm crops.

  6. July 16, 2013 2:11 pm

    Our hay is on the ground also. My fall cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts are just coming up. My husband is working on the fall carrot bed as I type this. Like you though we could sure use some rain maybe just after the hay is up : )

  7. July 16, 2013 5:53 pm

    Right there with you with the hay anxiety. We finally made it back in the hay field to day after three weeks of rain. We still have another field of 1st cutting to make. We farmers… it’s all about the weather, isn’t it?

  8. July 16, 2013 7:12 pm

    Our best hay got absolutely saturated last year – half way through the baling – it all had to be pulled out and turned over to dry over the subsequent days. We were not happy. Hope the rain holds off for you.

  9. July 16, 2013 7:20 pm

    Thunderstorms are a “maybe” for tonight. Crossing my fingers for the perfect thunder&rain combo! I was delighted to wave to you from my car this evening, while driving home from Portland on Louden… you were looking like a true Guardian of the Hayfield 😉

  10. July 17, 2013 5:49 am

    I can relate. You hate to be disappointed about rain given the dry year(s) we’ve endured but it’s frustrating when it pops up at the most inopportune times. I’ve cringed over my disappointment in the timing of rain knowing that as you said, it’s a blessing indeed. So much of farming/ranching is dependent upon things completely out of your control. Here’s hoping the timing works for you today.

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

  11. Regina Pishion permalink
    July 17, 2013 12:08 pm

    Rain isn’t the issue here, elk and wild turkeys are. We’ve got bales on the ground and they’re tearing them up. So back out to the field we go. There’s plenty of wild pasture but they want our barley hay.

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