Make Hay While the Sun Shines
“They need to give the weatherman a window in his office.” Ronnie, the guy who cuts and bales our hay, had arrived with his baling equipment just in time for the first sprinkling of rain on the field he had cut a few days before… when clear weather was predicted to prevail for most of a week. He had already fluffed the hay to help it dry out after a heavy storm. I laughed at his quip about the window, but I wondered if we would lose the first cutting this year. We were down to the last few bales from last year. It was unthinkable: we might have to buy hay for our goats.
“Wet hay goes bad really fast,” a friend and fellow goat farmer said. How fast? I wondered. Then I thought, “Ronnie is really good at what he does. If the hay is salvageable, he will save it.” But I was creeping higher and higher on the worry meter. After a few weeks of afternoon thunder storms, I had worried that the hay would be too far gone before it got cut. Then, relieved that it was still good horse-quality hay, I worried that it would rain…and it did. Now I worried that the hay would rot.
“Well, there isn’t much you can do about it,” I said to myself, “so just let go and relax. What’s the worst that can happen? You lose the crop and you pay Ronnie something for his efforts and you buy hay.” I stopped looking at weather reports.
The worry meter plummeted as I got things in perspective. The sun made a welcome appearance the next day and Ronnie came by to turn the hay again. The following day he and his dad performed a tractor Pas de Deux in the field—Dad in the lead, towing an awesome double stack of green spirals that formed windrows of the cured hay, and son coming behind him with the baler, which stepped to a rhythm of chug-a-chug-a-chug and thump, thump, thump, before pooping nice tight rectangular bales into the freshly mown pasture. Fascinated with the machinery, I set my worries aside and took pictures.
There was only one more thing to worry about. Three friends had volunteered to help, but two could not come right away. With one person to help, Chuck hooked the trailer to the John Deere and began picking up bales. Clouds were gathering for their afternoon of shower-scattering. I began to ponder what we would do with 150 bales of moldy hay.
A neighbor drove by and sized up the situation. Then he stopped and offered us his handyman for an hour or so…a strong-looking young man. Nice! Before long, our other friends arrived with their truck, and we got the hay into the barn before a cloudburst blessed the newly cleared field with promise of a second cutting.
The second cutting should occur in another couple of months. Then the cycle will begin again, as we worry through the whims of the weather, and hope the equipment doesn’t break down.