You’ve heard the expression, “better make hay while the sun still shines?” It falls in the same category as “shake a leg” or “get a move on.” And while I have no idea how shaking your leg helps get any work done, “better make hay” isn’t just a saying for us.
Baling hay tends to get put on the back burner because there aren’t many cows on our row-crop farm.
The tractor on the left pulls the mower, which does what any mower does. Behind that is a tractor pulling the red and yellow rake. The rake pulls the cut grass into rows, ready for the baler.
The tractor drives over the rows of grass and the baler sucks them up, winding the grass around and around until the bale is big enough.
Then you open the baler and the hay rolls out. (Funny story, round bales roll. You have to be careful opening a baler on a hill. There’s a surprising amount of physics in farming.)
All this, of course, depends on any number of things– most importantly the weather.
Fresh cut grass has water in it which evaporates as the grass dries to hay. Baling dry hay is very important because wet hay will continue to “cure” after it’s baled and the steam inside a wet bale can actually cause the whole thing to smolder and smolder until your hay bale goes up in flames.
We rely a lot on the National Weather Service when we cut hay. We need a minimum of two sunny days in a row, one for the grass to dry and another to do the baling. But since no one can predict the future we often see rows of hay like the photos–wet.
This hay was cut with a 0% chance of rain, only to experience several inches and a hail storm. At this point all you can do is hope it stops raining and the hay can dry out again.
And when you’ve got a sunny day, well, better shake a leg.