Things are really dry around here. The grass is all brown and dried up and the crops are not growing as they should be right now. For the animals out in the pasture, we just supplement their "meals" with hay. However, because it is dry, the grass isn't growing so we can't make any hay. Today, Ryan mowed off an entire field and we will probably only get two loads of hay from it. That is not much. However, we are blessed—from the hay that we already put in the barn from first cutting, it should be enough to feed our animals, there just won't be as much to sell. So, we are praying for rain and trusting that God will provide for our needs, whatever they may be. That is the life of the farmer. Praying a lot and trusting God even more.
We are working on putting more haylege into the silo. So, since Derek is currently at a summer camp, I get to help with the field work. I was pretty excited to rake the hay (I drive the tractor that has a "rake" behind it that sweeps up the grass and puts it into a nice row). I started raking at 10:45 this morning. By 11:20 I was back in the house because it had started to rain. Well, it only rained for a little bit so dad said I could go back out and rake some more. I went back out and raked for about 15 more minutes and it started to rain a little. I wasn't too worried... it had only rained for a little bit earlier so I kept raking. Well, the drops kept getting bigger and they were coming faster... I looked over at Ryan (who was mowing off some more hay) and he motioned for me to go into the house. By the time I got onto the rode (approx 2 minutes) it was raining for real. Actually, it was pouring so hard I could barely see! Needless to say, by the time Ryan and I made it back to the house we were DRENCHED. Oh, well, maybe it will stop raining and we'll try again. Either way, we needed rain so I can't complain! :)
It just occurred to me that I have never written (in the blog) about what we do for summer barn chores. It is such an important thing-- so I thought I had better explain! In the summer time, chores are easier. Most of the heifers are out of the barn, so there is less feeding and less scraping and bedding to do each day. That is kind of nice... especially when we have to do barn chores in between each load of hay!
Morning chores for dad start at 4:00 AM. Derek or Jennilea will also get up then to go out and get all the cows in from the pasture and put them in the barn to be milked. This is about a 45 min process. After the cows are in, whichever "kid" went out to the barn gets to go back to bed and dad milks the cows. At 6:00, mom heads out to the barn to mix feed for the cows, which she’ll then feed at about 6:45. Around 6:30, dad finishes milking and Ryan or I go out to help do everything else. This includes: cleaning off the troughs (taking the leftover food away from the cows), feeding sweep outs (feeding that leftover food to the heifers and steers), feeding milk calves (we have 3 right now), feeding the weaned calves, bedding the cows (put fresh hay under all of them), sweeping down the walkway, and feeding the cows their corn and grain. We usually get in from the barn at around 7:30.
Evening chores begin at 3:00 PM. Mom mixes feed for the cows and then feeds them, dad scrapes the walkway and behind the cows, the rest of us do the other chores. These include: feeding the milk calves, giving corn and grain to the heifers and steers, scraping out the calves' stalls, bedding the calves, and feeding corn and grain to the cows. Right now, all of that takes about 45 minutes. At 4:00 Derek will go out and milk the cows. He is usually done at about 5:45 and then the cows are all let out into the pasture for the next day.
There you have an overview of the chores we do everyday. Now, you know what I mean when I write about morning and/or afternoon chores. :)
We have this weekend off from barn chores! YAY! It is break time! :) Actually, dad and Derek still worked outside quite a bit but Jennilea, mom and I had an easier day. I cleaned up the cabin a little (which by the way... looks ADORABLE!), Jennilea made our picnic lunch for tomorrow (we are going to Alex Bay for the afternoon), and mom kept us all going. :)
I just walked on some of the paths over in the pasture and it brought back many memories. When all of us kids were younger we would play for hours on end over there. We would come back for meals and chores and that was it. We would play "cowboys and Indians", and "house", using the berries, leaves, bark and grass for "food". We had a special spot under a tree, among all the bushes, beside an old log, where we spent most of our time. I looked for our “house” as I was walking today, but it has changed quite a bit over there. Now there are different paths and the bushes have grown quite a bit. When I was younger, all I wanted to do was be "big" but now I kind of miss the playing over the pasture with not a worry in the world. It helps me to remember that I need to cherish each and every day...
The sky is bright blue with big white fluffy clouds floating by. The wind is blowing through the leaves, the wind chime is "chiming", and the birds are singing. It is another beautiful day on our farm. Today, dad mowed off the last two fields to get baled. (Actually, once those fields are baled all the first cutting is done but when the grass gets taller we will cut and bale it again.) So, as long as it doesn't rain we will be doing hay tomorrow and Friday.
Derek and I worked on clearing out one of the cow paths today. I got the fun job of driving the skid steer and 4-wheeler to haul out the brush. Derek used the chainsaw to cut down branches and would hook everything up for me to pull out. It was actually kind of fun to do. It was the first time I had ever driven a skid steer and I just about had a heart attack! It was like riding a rollercoaster on a see-saw and you don't know how the ride is going to end. It was fun and terrifying at the same time. Would I do it again? TOTALLY! :)
In my last post, I talked about what I was expecting all of us hay help to feel like by the time we were done yesterday. Well, I was right on all counts... plus one. It felt so good to get cleaned up. It is amazing how much dust, dirt and hay can collect on one person!
We did 7ish loads of hay yesterday which totaled about 1,100 bales. We started at 1:15 and finished at 5:45. It was a looooonnnnggg day. It went well though-- there were no break downs, no one got sick from the heat, and barn chores all went well. Our day ended with a delicious supper of meatloaf, sinful potatoes (they are super cheesy), green beans, pudding cake and ice cream. After we ate, all of us "kids" stretched out on the sofas and did nothing until bed time. :) We were tired! The good thing is... now we only have about 11,000 more bales of hay to go!
It is hot and sunny with a slight breeze… perfect weather for doing hay. Dad mowed on Tuesday for us to do hay either yesterday or today. Well, yesterday it rained so we couldn't do it then. So, today is the day. It is supposed to get super hot today (90+degrees), and when we do hay, it always ends up at being the hottest time of the day. So, that means in 90 degree weather (+humidity), we are all wearing jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, and some even wear gloves and hats, and are working fast and hard for hours on end. The good part is that after every wagon is unloaded, dad has to go get another one, so about every 25 min we get about a 5-7 min break. We all drink lots of water, and rest in the shade, or we ride out in the wagon and cool off a little by the breeze. By the end of the day, we will be hot, (probably sun burnt), sweaty, smelly, sore and VERY dirty. The good thing is that we will all sleep really well tonight!
Well, actually, this probably wasn't too much of a surprise to the rest of my family, or to any of the farmers in the area... but it sure was to me. I haven't been home to help with haying in quite a few years and I was thinking that it started in mid-July and went to the end of August. When I found out that Ryan had mowed hay on Tuesday and Wednesday to be baled today, I was shocked. Maybe you are wondering “What is she talking about?! What is “haying”?!” Well, let me tell you…haying is a multi-step process. First, the hay is mowed (the mower lays it out into rows), then it is raked (the rows are fluffed up) and then it is baled (a “baler” makes it into small rectangle bales and then kicks it up into the wagon). When the wagon is full it is brought to the barn where the bales are unloaded onto an elevator which goes to a conveyor which is then dumped into the barn to be stacked in nice, tight rows.
As I was saying, today was the first day we started haying. I actually had to work at my other job, so I didn't help but I was reminded of how dirty and tiring it can be when I came home and saw all the "hay help" (my dad, mom, brothers, and two of our friends). They were covered in hay dust, talking about how many splinters they got, and a few of them complained about sore muscles. The question is... do we do this willingly? The answer is... yes. It is a necessary part of farming and one that is rewarding (in its own way). The animals need to eat in the winter, and by storing up hay... we have something else to feed them besides just silage. It also helps insulate the barn when it is cold outside.
It gives us (or at least me) a sense of pride knowing that we worked hard, we are sore, we are tired, but we got a lot done. Now... hopefully, I maintain this positive feeling after we have done it for days in 90 degree weather. :) My mom has figured out that ice cream sandwiches and soda's can be great encouragers/refreshers when we are all tired out. So, yes, it is hard, dirty work, and no, we don't all just LOVE to hay, but, yes we do it (without much complaining) because it is part of living on a farm. It is part of our life.
Hello, if you are a follower of this blog you will remember that Angela was doing the blogs. Well, things have gotten busy for her and so Stan, her dad, is filling in for now. I am not as techno savy as her so I am not sure how this will work but I am going to try and post on a hopefully regular basis.