Saturday, June 23, 2012

Raking hay...

 Since we are now into haying season, I have a new "sweet ride."  This John Deere 2520 tractor and the Heston Rake are all the equipment I need to rake hay.  I like it that this tractor is "open air."  I can watch hawks fly overhead, I can sit down or stand up while I drive along, and I can hear, see, smell, feel, and even taste what I'm doing.  The taste part might be a stray bug flying in my mouth and sometimes I think I can taste the exhaust....not my favorite flavor.  I get a good sun tan doing this job, but I try hard not to over-do it.  Usually after noon I am totally covered up with long sleeves, jeans and boots so my hide doesn't burn.   The negatives about open air tractoring are the constant heat, dust, and wind.  It wears a guy or girl out by the end of the day.

 Here you can see the swather way off in the distance cutting down hay.  I think that's Grandpa cutting.  The hay isn't nearly as good as it has been for the past four years, but we'll take what we can get.  We had a dry winter with no snow pack and the spring has been equally dry so they hay crop will not be as bountiful.  We're just grateful we have quite a bit of carry-over hay from the past couple of years.

Looking back from the tractor seat, you can see the wheels and their tines spinning the rows of cut hay into a larger row that will be picked up by the baler when it has dried just enough.  We don't want to bale hay too dry or the leaves fall off the alfalfa and it shatters into bits, but we don't want to bale hay too wet or it will mold.
 These are raked wind rows -- the best hay we've cut -- all fluffed up and drying in the sunshine.  The birds love to pick the bugs off the hay and there are gobs of baby birds around the rows too.  They usually run out or clumsily try to fly out of the way before I get to them.  There are lark buntings, black birds, cow birds, horned larks, and willets in the field now.  There was a great swooping hawk out there with them too.  It's so fascinating to watch a hawk making his flight maneuvers as he looks for mice, snakes, and rabbits.

 Hubby does most of the baling but NumberOneSon does some too.  The FourthBorn either swaths or rakes.  It's nice to be able to swap jobs and relieve someone for a few hours.

 This REA pole's wires stayed covered in birds for the entire day yesterday.  They would take turns flying down, but as a few flew down, a few more would fly up and perch, all neatly spaced apart from one another.

 The sky was picturesque yesterday.  The day before, I was raking in a sweatshirt, stocking cap and gloves and was freezing by the end of the day, but yesterday it was hot and dry.  It sounds like there will be more hot, dry days ahead.

I started getting really sleepy at about 2:00 in the afternoon.  I had to stop and rest awhile.  I took a long drink of water, walked around the tractor a few times, and put my feet up for a few minutes.   Then it was back to work.  Wanna go for a ride with me?  There's not much room, but you can sit on the tire cover for a little while.  It's pretty bumpy out here so don't fall off.  Here we go!


  1. Awesome, I'm so happy to learn that you feed your cows hay.

  2. Love it! You are the best worker ever! I must make you a crown. You are queen of the ranch.
    (BIG HUG!)

  3. Jody, I am so impressed. Ranching and farming are hard work. Your scenery is beautiful.

  4. Gosh that is awesome, I have always wanted to do that. I can't believe the wide open spaces and how big everything is, It is such a beautiful sight. I loved the video.

  5. My husband would be jealous of your new tractor...he wants that one, too! Your hay looks great Jody!! I am assuming you don't irrigate...rather dryland farm? Those are some impressive wind rows!!

    Have a great day!


  6. Julia,

    Actually the tractor is not new, it's just my "new" ride for the summer. The 2520 has been in the family since it was brand spankin' new! It's my favorite tractor of all.

    You are right. Our hay is dryland hay. We don't irrigate and we've only ever gotten second cuttings a handful of times and just on the very best areas of the hay fields. The windrows that I pictured were of our best hay this summer. Most of it was much thinner. Much.


  7. G'day Gumbo Lily. Lovely photos. Hubby and I have fond memories of doing all of those things when we owned the farm. Take care. Liz...

  8. Until I watched the movie, I was smelling the alfalfa -- a rare treat for me anymore -- and it was so sweet! Then when I saw the movie and the alfalfa aroma got a little dust mixed in. Thank you for taking me along!

  9. Looks like a fun job Ms. Gumbo -- too bad you can't stitch and steer. Do you wear ear protection??? ;-D

  10. What a fun and fascinating post! I've seen those raking things on farmland, with the beautiful swirly things all in a row. It was fun to see them in action! You are an amazing woman to do all that you do on your ranch. I'm very impressed! And yes, I'd love to go for a ride with you! I'd prefer a coolish day though :)

  11. Now that was a fun ride. However, I was waiting for you to break into a song as we rode along--it just seems like the right place to belt out a happy tune!


  12. My dh loves to help with haying too - only one problem - he developed an allergy so now he has to wear a mask.A funny sweet memory - Our 4th son love to help when he was little too -but he also had an allergy. His eyes would get red and itchy. So one day I noticed him heading out to help Daddy put the bales up in the hayloft - with swimming goggles on! Pretty cute - wish I had taken a picture!

    Thanks for taking us along!

  13. Whoa, Jody, that looks both fun and tiring. The sky is soooo big and there is no end to the field, it is all so vast. I bet you think many thoughts while you are out there.

  14. I love the peek into your life, Jody. I'll bet you're tired at the end of the day and look forward to a little sitting and stitching in the evening hours. Thanks for the ride! (and the awesome post!)
    Angie in WA

  15. Okay (not that I did not already think it) but you are a true (tough) farm girl!!! xox Clarice


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