Haying Time Means Summer

Even though summer is in full swing here in the Ozarks, winter will return in a few months. And haying time is necessary preparation.

Like most plants grasses make seeds which means they bloom. Cool weather grasses bloom in late spring into early summer. Their nutrition value is highest when they begin to bloom.

haying time begins with mowing
The day before this field was almost waist high with grass stems and calf high with clover. Now all of it is lying down in neat piles drying in the sun. Normal desires for rain are switched for anxious cloud watching, hoping rain will wait until after the hay is baled and stacked in the barn.

And cool weather along with frequent rains make it difficult to make hay. Haying time consists of cutting the fields, letting it lie for a few days allowing the cut forage to dry thoroughly, then baling it and putting the bales under cover. More than a quarter inch of rain ruins the hay robbing it of nutrition and spreading mold.

The fields here have never been cut for hay as no one wanted to come any distance for the four small fields. This year is different. The fields are being cut and baled.

It is now summer and the main cool weather grasses have finished blooming and setting seed. These fields have lots of warm weather grasses in them too. And the cool, wet spring let the white and red clover grow luxuriantly.

haying time continues with baling
A rake gathers the windrows into long, tall windrows for the baler. Many people now prefer large round bales. This is an old farm with an old barn suited for square bales. Besides, I can move a square bale without a tractor.

Clover has thick stems which dry slowly. To help dry it more quickly, the hay is cut with a conditioner that crushes the thick stems.

The goats were not impressed with the cut fields and went elsewhere. Two young doe deer thought the cut fields were great for playing in. They engaged in chase games over the rows of cut grass.

stacks of hay ends haying time
Cloudy Cat immediately staked out a new napping place on a stack of hay. Unfortunately for him, more hay was stacked in the barn and he will have to find another, shorter stack to sleep on.

A few hot, sunny days later, the hay was dry and ready for baling. Haying time leaves those working in the hay hot and sweaty, covered with bits of dry grass itchy inside the clothes and dead tired at night.

In the barn, the growing stacks of hay spread aromas of sweet, dry grass and provide valued sleeping spots for the cats. The stacks promise well fed goats next winter.