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Hey Bales

July 18, 2014

EOS_7268 (2)
We’re that much closer to getting Jane’s winter hay in the barn.  Yesterday, I spent some time with a pitchfork checking for green wads of grass hidden in the windrows.  It’s like a game of Memory.  You see those green gobs when you rake, so you try to remember where they are and expose them with the air with a pitchfork. It’s not all a guessing game though, there’s always areas in hay fields that don’t dry as well.  There could be a shady spot, dampness from below, an extra thick stand of grass, or white clover.   Muscle memory takes over and when you stick the pitchfork in the dry hay in a suspected wet spot, you can feel the resistance and heft of the hidden wet grass below.  Mechanical ways around this 30 minute task would be to add tedding to the whole process, or re-rake and turn all the windrows.

By late afternoon the hay was ready to bale.

Round and round he goes.

Check the weight and make adjustments if necessary.


The best sound of summer I think…




11 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    July 18, 2014 7:07 am

    And I bet it is the best scent of summer too! 🙂

    • July 18, 2014 8:38 am

      Right up with there with the honeysuckle, linden, chestnut and elderberries that are blooming now. All wrapped up into a big summer scent!

  2. Lisa permalink
    July 18, 2014 8:23 am

    Very interesting post. Regarding checking the weight of the bales, how do you adjust the weight? Is the bale already tied? How much should a bale weigh?

    –Curious Lisa

    • July 18, 2014 8:45 am

      Lisa, you tighten or loosen the tension springs, it takes about 3 bales to see the change because you can’t weigh it until it is discharged, and we like the bales about 50# give or take. That makes it easy to figure out the tonnage.

  3. July 18, 2014 11:37 am

    Second round of baling complete today, 100 bales of around 30kg. Tomorrow they get taken to our neighbours barn, where she said we can store them for the winter. So pleased about that. Glad yours is going well. Round three commences on Monday or Tuesday, we should get a few more days of dry to get some more, just to finish off what we need for the winter.

    • July 18, 2014 1:59 pm

      Our second round just got put in the barn, now a reprieve of sorts waiting for the weather window to cooperate. Congrats on the 100 bales safely in and under cover.

  4. Tracy permalink
    July 18, 2014 7:49 pm

    we just finished up our 1st cut of hay, we have irrigation here and we try to get 3 cuts and most of it goes into small squares to sell! I love the sound of my baler kicking out bales too and I love seeing a field of hay all nicely baled up! love your blog, i love reading about your day to day chores and growing your own food!

    • July 18, 2014 9:18 pm

      Tracy, ooh irrigation 🙂 Only one cut here, and we’re sure glad when it’s done! I can’t imagine 3!

  5. July 19, 2014 4:40 am

    Can you speak to the use of the pitchfork a bit more? You’re walking the fields after raking to flip over some of the damp grass? Doesn’t that take forever?

    How much tonnage do you put up? Is it calculated per head? We usually do a count, but your way seems a lot more accurate.

    We put up 1600 squares before the clouds started rolling in, forcing us to get the rest of the fields put in rounds. The rounds remain in the field, looking for some consistently dry days so we can bring them up. We take one it, after the Bobolinks are done. One cut for us, the rest for the land. We can extend our grazing season enormously by taking just one cut.

    I always learn something new from you. Thank you!


    • July 19, 2014 5:17 am

      Tara, I’m only looking for the few gobs of clover from where the mower plugs (damp ground, deer bed etc) that I noticed from the tractor seat as I raked. You see it and you feel it, and you know the rake didn’t quite fluff it enough. But there isn’t much of that really, not enough to use the tractor to turn all the windrows, sort of like using a dishwasher to wash one dish, instead of just washing the dish. Shady spots, cow camp spots, etc all yield those heavy spots that don’t dry well, and I know them by heart. I didn’t spend much time poking around, maybe a half hour on 3 acres. I only saw one we missed when we picked up the bales yesterday so I paid more attention than I thought 😉

      We try to store about 2 tons per head, and just do one cut. Since we started rotationally grazing we feed less hay and have a longer grazing season. Much easier to move cows than hay!

  6. July 20, 2014 5:19 am

    We seem to lose a lot of leaf if we rake twice. A little pitchfork work helps us retain quality.

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