Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Makin' Hay

Hay Season

This time of year farmers work from before sunrise to long after sunset to take advantage of the nice weather. Right now farmers and ranchers are cutting their green grass to make hay bales to be feed for their livestock. Each summer it's our goal to make enough to feed to our cattle during the winter months when the pastures are covered in snow and ice. That way our cows have plenty to eat to get them through the cold miserable winter (yuck, I don't even want to think about winter!).
On my family's farm we make round bales and square bales. The round bales are fed to the cattle out in the pasture. We start feeding round bales when the pasture grass is done growing for the year, just before the snow hits the ground. The big round bales are placed in a special round bale feeder so the cows can stick their heads through and devourer! The number of cows out in the pasture depends how many bales we put out. We watch it carefully so that the cows always have enough hay.
This is the machine that picks up the cut hay and makes it into a round bale.
Square bales are a little smaller and even I can pick it up using the baler twine! We use square bales for the cows that are in the barn (usually just during calving) and the show cattle. There are small slabs of hay in each of the squares. The slabs are easy to manage, we give our show heifers a slab of hay at a time. It's a lot of work to mow away the hay into the top level of our barn, but with the, right people it can be a lot of fun. After unloading 5 or more wagons you are sweating, full of hay dust, and throbbing arms from all the unloading & stacking.
The square baler picks up the hay, kicks it into the wagon. We then unload the hay into the hay mow. Sorry for such an old photo.
The fun part comes in once the work in done. My mom always grills out on the patio and has a small fire going for the family and the hired help. Eating together and sharing stories is always entertaining when you know the work is complete.
We put a lot of time, effort and sweat into making sure our cows have plenty to eat throughout the year. It's more then a job, it's a way of life I wouldn't trade for the world! Working on the farm has distilled a strong work ethic into me and I'm proud that has carried into my professional career.


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