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Off to a Good Home: The gently rained-on hay makes its way to some cows who can appreciate a soft grass product.
Coming up from behind the sprinkler is the storm that transformed the “horse quality” into “cow quality” hay
Stacks of Hope: Some farmers have good years, and some have rough years. I’m always thankful for any bales that make their way toward the barn. These ones didn’t make it in, but there was hope before the storm came.
Photo Credit: Marvin Pinnecoose | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Marvin Pinnecoose | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Marvin Pinnecoose | Special to the Drum
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That Farm Life: Shared experiences to benefit the beginning farmer


I remember in the first couple of articles, that at one point I said that I was not fond of being tethered to an industry that relies on weather. It always felt so risky to hope for rain and then to ask for some time to harvest it, bring it in, and reset the fields… just to ask for rain again. Once your irrigation is dialed in, the part about asking for rain isn’t so bad. Blood, sweat, tears, shovel work, and money are all ways to improve the ability to deliver water to the crops. It takes some good planning and a lot of tweaking once the water is turned on. It always seems like the water doesn’t always act the way it did last year. Every year is unique.  

Bringing in the harvest is a matter of hoping that the sky will stay clear for an entire week and not wreck your plans. Therein lies the trouble.  

In this industry, one should not vest so much into plans. Taking those days off of work, hoping that the people are supposed to help you bring in and stack up the product may not show up, and lastly, that clear weather window that you are hoping for may change hourly. My Apple weather app is out to get me. Just when I think that all signs point North, I get my humbling moment. 

 History is not an indicator 

I keep a daily journal to document my progress, the weather, and worthwhile notes for what happens on the farm. It helps to keep a record of expenses among changing prices and supply issues. It also helps to gauge what was done this year at about this time. The one thing the journal should not be used for is to give reassurance that the weather will favor you. True, there can be coincidences among seasons to help prepare and predict the current year’s trajectory. Still, we need to keep an eye on multiple weather authorities (still bitter about the Apple weather app) to try and find out when that harvest window holds the best probability.  

As we come up to the middle of the entire calendar year, I can only recall one rain shower and two small drizzles that happened this year. Of the two small drizzles, one happened in May and one happened June 14. The reason I remember that it happened on June 10 is because I had some hay down in the fields and was so proud of the size of the wind rows and the quality of the product. Me being me, my attitude is always “bring on the rain.” Watching the fields green up and knowing that ALL of us farmers are getting some much-needed rain is always a plus. My horse hay simply becomes cow hay if the rain continues long enough. Luckily for me, on the morning of Friday June 14, it was only a hint of rain, the drizzle.  

Dancing in the rain 

A little bit of raking over the weekend and the hay was looking pretty good. It just takes some time to make sure that all the product is flipped over and gets to air out before mildew or discoloration sets in. I did this with a 1973 side delivery rake that pulls behind a vehicle without the need for a PTO shaft. It’s a pain to drive and backing up is not possible, so I knew that I was messing up some well-manicured wind rows, but so be it, the hay needed some triage.  

Come Monday, the property was back to normal, and baling could commence. And so over the next couple of days, that’s what we did, we baled and brought bales to the barn. Getting them into the barn was a little bit different. Turns out that the machinery used to stack bales doesn’t fit into my barns. The machine holds 160 bales in a single load, so I’m not sure if there are any barns out there that can fit these machines into. Never-the-less, I was left to stack outside and bring them in myself. This is usually never an issue, but this year, my help was not able to make it out to the farm.  

I did what I could with my front-end loader, some leather gloves and a lot of determination. All of that is spent down quickly and a person finds that raw will power is a perishable item that depletes quickly when you’re doing all the stacking by yourself. Needless to say, a portion of the finished product did not make it into the barn before the big storm of the year (so far) came on Friday, June 21. The Apple weather app went from clear skies for the next seven days to “Flood Watch” and 100% possibility of rain within the next three hours. I felt it coming. The sky darkened quickly. The breezes picked up and you could smell the rain in the distance.  

I did what I could to bring in the last surge of energy and get a few more bales into the barn. That night at 8:41 p.m., it came down quick and sent me running back to the house. Not mad, never mad. I am thankful for such a blessing, and I found a silver lining among the damp bales outside as I looked out the window. Simply turning my attention to the empty fields, I smiled knowing that this was the beginning of the second cut. Bring on the rain. The grass needs to drink. 

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