Hay. A little three letter word that packs a PUNCH!

It's that time again on the farm. We cut and bale hay in the spring and fall, as if once per year wasn't enough. There are a lot of chores on a farm but I'm here to tell you this is without a doubt the most dreaded. I thought I would share some baling 101 hoping it will provide some comedy relief for me and maybe a bit for you?

There are 2 options for bale structure,

round bales... or square...

There is no disagreement that round bales are easier by a long shot. They're easier and less expensive to bale and once baled they're easily handled and moved. With the round bales weighing in around 1200#'s, you drive up to the bale with your tractor (every farm must have a tractor...every girl too but that's topic for another Blog) and a spear like implement attached to the tractor. You literally spear the bale and you move it easily where ever you need. The dreaded square bale, weighing in at 45-60#'s must be manually lifted from the ground (we don't have the modern conveyor belt system that loads the bales) and stacked on a trailer to be moved to storage. Everyone knows a girls upper body is not the best for throwing, especially throwing 50#'s...and UP no less.

Wondering why we've chosen square bales? Although we continue to try to invent a way to feed our sheep the hay from a round bale we haven't come up with a system yet. The round bale stands some 6' tall. The sheep eat pulling from above, pulling hay right down on their beautiful wool. It can actually ruin a whole fleece. So, until we create another system, square baling it is!

Another side note about putting up hay, to add to the misery ....hay ALWAYS goes up later in the afternoon which means heat. Your sweating from the physical work and the sun beating down on you as you lift these 50# bales.   You always have hay bits flying in your clothes and sticking to every exposed inch of you...does it sound fun?

OK, you think it's over?


Now we must unload the same hay into the barns and stack it for storage. OMG. Yesterday we were doing just that and I was trying to explain to my husband that yes, I can do this but I am a girl! You have to know my husband, he says, "yes, but your a FARM girl"...no way out of that one! I love this farm but when it's time for this chore I find myself creating excuses, like I was 12 again! When I imagined this place I guess I thought hay would just be bought and delivered, no work there. I didn't realize the finance's of farming (or lack thereof ). The cost of hay continues to rise and with the drought we have more and more need.

Let me introduce you to something I'm REAL proud of...Our John Deere T-24 from the 60's. The very first square baler John Deere made. She's an antique alright. Everything on her moves, nothing electronic on this baby. She can be temperamental but who wouldn't be with that age...but she's tough. I don't know what it is with me but I just love watching her work.

I like having the right stuff to get things done. I don't mind driving the equipment, I don't mind a little of anything...but 300 bales of hay in a day!

I keep threatening to call all my "city" girlfriends that go to the gym for their daily workouts.  I'll bet they'd have some major sore going on the next day.

I imagine I'll always dread this oh so necessary part of livestock farming.  I must admit, the smell of the fresh cut grass and the barn stacked high with the forage for the long winter ahead feels mighty good!

Winter, did someone say winter?  I'll take some cool after this day!