Monday, July 6, 2009

Do you believe in miracles?

The one thing farmers must contend with is the weather. And oh boy, can that be a major factor.

A local farmer, Phil, cut our hay last week. Haying equipment is expensive (take a look at the size of this baler!) so we must depend on Phil to cut and bale for us, since he has the equipment and we don't.

When hay is cut, you let it lie for a few days to dry. The weather was clear and hot during this period, curing the hay perfectly. On Saturday (yes, the 4th of July - farmers never stop this time of year) Phil came and raked the hay into windrows, which are big fluffy rows. This not only "stirs" the hay to better cure it, but it gets the hay ready to bale.

This is the nail-biting period, because if it rains while the hay is on the ground, the hay is ruined. We've already spent over a thousand bucks fertilizing the field, as well as paying Phil to mow and windrow it. If it rained now, we could kiss the money - and hay - goodbye.

And, naturally, the weather reports called for thunderstorms with rain.

Trouble is, farmers are super-dooper busy this time of year. They have a lot of fields they're mowing and baling, not only their own, but others' (like us) as well. I can hardly call Phil and ask him to put us on the top of the list for baling, as he's doing the best he can to get to everyone's fields.

Late yesterday afternoon Phil came and baled our hay. Thank God!

I went out and paid him on the spot, and we watched a black mass of ominous clouds gathering on the horizon. Within half an hour after he left, the wind kicked up and started blasting us - the gusts must have been over 70 mph. Then thunder and lightening. Then - you guessed it - torrential rains. I was trying to milk a restless Matilda while my husband and kids were running around battening down hatches - buttoning up the chickens, grabbing the plastic lawn chairs that were being flung around the driveway by the wind, that kind of thing.

But the hay is baled. True, it's lying out in a wet field getting wet, but the bales are tight and hopefully will shed the water. These are thousand-pound bales.

To folks who don't have livestock to feed through an eight-month winter, this may seem like petty stuff. But for us, Phil's timeliness was a minor miracle.

It's still raining. Baled hay cannot resist rain forever. I'm praying the rain stops long enough to let the hay dry out, so we can stack and tarp it.

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