Finally, this week we have sun. Glorious sun for the better part of a week! The forecast is wonderful. Dan has cut the entire upper hay field near the road. This is also nerve wracking because any time you have hay down a stray thunderstorm can wreck it, and July is notorious for such events. Mowing is a solitary venture, the hay mower has only one seat and is too dangerous for anyone but Dan to operate. Raking and making can be group activities, though. Putting up hay by actual horsepower is not a common thing, so we virtually always have help. Our friends and neighbors enjoy pitching in and helping out on a big important project like this, for which I am always grateful...but since we lend a hand to many projects too, it's what some might call karma, I guess. I've had skin cancer and get overheated out in the fields during hay time, so I am always truly grateful that oftentimes my main job is to keep the coolers full of cold drinks and have something good to eat at the end of the day. Not that I hide in the house all day- the sights, smells and sounds are something to take in, as they happen just fleetingly each year. Also, the spirit of camaraderie in the whole process is touching.
This year was no exception. With the help of family & friends, we got all the hay out of the field and into the barn over the course of 3 rain-free days. I took the lines and drove the horses for a few loads, and also ran the truck which we connect to the hay claw to unload the wagon. (To see more about how we make hay, including photos & videos, check out our website's page on Hay Making!) But, for the most part it was Dan and our assorted help that got the job done. Not that I was off lounging, though! Friends not only came to help with hay, but also brought a tractor to help us by brush hogging the pastures...essentially a good mowing with better equipment than we have for this particular job. Pastures benefit because it cuts down things the critters don't want to eat, like goldenrod, and helps to keep the invasive, thorny, awful multiflora rose from turning our fields into briar patches. We also wanted to remove a fence line we weren't using that was infested with multiflora, so the first hay making evening I learned how to drive the tractor and operate the bucket to assist in tearing out the fenceline. It wasn't difficult, and I didn't mind missing out on hay, especially since my friend who is usually the tractor helper wanted to see and experience horse-drawn hay making for the first time. And now here it is, Sunday morning, and the first hay field is bare and the one hay mow is full. We have another field yet to make, but it's a good start and a relief to see hay piled high, clear up to the barn ceiling. And looking out over the farm, not only is an eyesore of a fence line gone, but four fields have been brush hogged, leaving them looking well-kept and enhancing the grazing for our animals. Honestly, I can't remember the farm ever looking nicer. Both Dan & I couldn't stop looking out over the fields with hearts full of gratitude for the help. Farming is oftentimes a very big job, and it's truly incredible how often folks come just to pitch in, expecting nothing more than a good meal (and possibly some zucchini left in their vehicle...) for a day's hard work.