Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: The Hay Fussys
Haying season. There hasn’t been this much dramatic tension at our place since the week before we kicked the last four heifers left to calve out with the cows.
It seems everyone in the region is in a fuss about the weather, the equipment, the fields, and/or the help. As the resident third string raker, which is a position I am quite comfortable holding, I have dubbed the condition that hits people during haying season the, “Hay Fussys.”
It starts with the transition from a single weather report to three primary and two secondary weather sources. These must be available at all times. This way they can be compared, contrasted, and argued with hourly. If you are fortunate in that your spouse/sibling/parent/neighbor relies on you to provide these weather updates, then, you will also be who they argue with when the forecast doesn’t jive with their haying plans for the day.
If the weather reports aren’t stressful enough, the real thing is sure to send folks over the edge at some point. How in the world can hay go from so wet you can practically wring it out to bone dry in 45 minutes? Replying with, “I honestly don’t know,” is not the correct answer, believe it or not.
Some folks become obsessively possessive of their hay related equipment and/or task. In some places I hear only a single soul can rake, or cut, or bale. On other outfits, everyone does everything. Wherever you fall on that, just imagine the alternative.
Now you have the hay fussys.
Equipment preparation and maintenance is of grave importance. Whether that amounts to literally kicking the tires, or a complete overhaul beginning the day after it was parked last season, it’s specific and it better be done right. As the wife with her name on the loans for multiple pieces of haying equipment, I admittedly find myself caught up in this one and pushing for the latter whenever I get the chance. Third string raker I may be, but nobody has offered to replace me when the payment comes due.
Regardless of the best of maintenance schedules, things will inevitably breakdown. On the only decent day to cut/rake/bale for the entire week. The closest store will likely be out of whatever part is necessary to get things back in the field. Shipping to get it to your yard by morning will be so astronomically high that the third string raker will be called into action to run to town and pick it up. There’s a 50/50 chance the correct part will return home, which only adds to the dramatic tension of the season.
The alfalfa bales will need to be off the field as they drop from the baler in order to prevent hindering the second cutting. Running out of caffeine is not pretty. So and so put their field up too wet and it will be a miracle if the entire stack doesn’t go up this winter.
And about the heifer calving tension this time of year may compare to. May God be with the wife who is brave enough to remind her husband that right now, in the middle of haying, is when those heifer bulls need pulled if he doesn’t want to calve for two, or three, cycles next spring. Which he swore he would never do again.
Her only opportunity is likely when he is two-thirds into the baler, unclogging something while cuddling with a bull snake. Or, removing the remains of Pepe Le Pew from directly beneath the cab of the windrower. Hungry mosquitoes optional in either scenario.
May the good Lord watch over you, and those you love, when the hay fussys hit. And, may we all remember what a blessing it is to have an abundance of feed. I also hope everyone gets it put up and in the stack corral before starting to unroll it this winter. It’s never happened here, but I imagine it will not be pretty if we are still getting bales out of the field when those third cycle heifers start calving.