Friday, 15 July 2011

Let's make a hay bale!

Noooooo!!! Not THIS type of hale bale. THIS type:

 Now what, you might ask, is that! Now I know that it looks like just a heap of straw, without particular shape or form and just a mess really. But trust me when I say that it is actually quite firm and compacted enough to hold its shape providing the string does not come undone upon which event the whole thing will disintegrate quite rapidly. But it is not such a fluffy ball as what it looks. Providing the string stays put.

But why would one want to make such a thing when one can acquire such super duper professional hay bales. They come at a cost, that's why. Either one finds a farmer with farming kit which will cut, rake, and bale, who then takes the bales away leaving one or two behind as a trade for the hay he has taken. Or one can buy the kit one's self and DIY the hay. That costs money. Therefore not do-able.

Possibilities: Leave field to go wild if uncut, making it difficult for the sheep to graze it. But if it has been cut, leave grass on ground to rot. We had half and half in the Home Field: half the field was cut, then the cutter on the tractor broke its welds yet again so is now having a sicky until it can be mended. Meanwhile, half of that section of field remains uncut. A farmer is supposed to be cutting the rest. He still hasn't turned up.

So, being trainee homesteaders, a thought came into my mind to make a hand made hay bale.

Out into the field I went, together with my trusty wheelbarrow containing a plastic box, a plastic grass rake, and a bag of string. With gusto I raked a couple of rows of mown grass, turning it over to make sure it was dry. Phew! Hot work! So off indoors to cool down for an hour or so.

Made a return to the field. Spots of rain drifted down from a now darkened-by-rainclouds sky, but the urge was upon me. Push on.

...raked up some hay....

.....laid some string across the box in both directions....

......filled box with straw, making sure not to let string get submerged in the tangle....

.....stood in box to press straw down. Stomped around in it, flailing my arms as I did so to stop myself from taking a tumble, the box having become quite unbalanced because of my weight in it and the unevenness of the ground. Shouted at Boolie to stop barking at me because he thought I was being silly.
Gus had gone off somewhere. He gets embarrassed when there are silly goings-on. Can't cope, bless him.

Put more straw in box. Did some more stomping. Repeated all until box was full. Folded over bits hanging out......

....tied up the string. Only 'lost' one strand of string. That's now interred within the bale.

Et voila!

....and may I proudly present my first bale of hay.

....and then I made another bale.

......and then it rained!

So I went indoors, dried off, felt quite saintly!

Refused to let myself think about the largeness of the field, of the amount of string I would have to use although it would be recyclable in the future, of the amount of energy to be expended although would come in useful for keeping fit, and of the glee with which Hubs looked at the bales and said, "Why do I need to buy machinery when I have such a wife as you. How long did it take you?"
"Not long, but would be quicker if there were two of us making them."
He seemed to lose interest after that, but to be fair to him he is time-poor, having to spend all of his day on his PC earning the income to keep us going, his time being interspersed with farm emergencies or people popping by.

And sexy goings on in the Sheep Barn. The little brown hen, the one who seems to have the urge to mate with others....well there she was, having a jolly good try at doing the business with one of the new big brown hens while I was putting bedding down for the sheep. I am starting to wonder if she is having something like a mid-life crisis. Do hens have such times in their lives? Will leave that one for you to answer.

Back to Hubs. I have a website of over two hundred pages. I don't mention it here because it is my 'other work' and people may not perhaps understand what I do. Anyways, links on the site were getting untidy. Hubs to the rescue. Result: a complete overhaul of the entire site to be done. Weeks of work.

I frequently say that we could do with two of me. Or three. Or four. One to do the numerous farmwork tasks. One to do the numerous domestic tasks. One to do my 'other work'. One just to be me. But perhaps not. None of us can cope with one of me, let alone several.

Off to Plaisance now. Dogs are scratching themselves to bits, so vet's anti-flea stuff urgently needed. Have managed to make do with cheaper but weaker products, but now the heavy stuff is needed. Also to buy a big role of string, in case the grass dries up sufficient for me to make more bales.

Au revoir for now......


Ahha!!!!!! No more hay bales for me to make this year! Just as I uploaded this blog, the farmer man came along in his huge blue tractor which had a cutting arm sharp as sharp could be, and spent several hours cutting the Home Field. Will be baling it up tomorrow, he said, so that's me done with haymaking for this year.

But I did manage to make two!

And thanks to Horst for posting some helpful hints about haymaking, which I will file away in my head for 2012.


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Well done Vera, every penny counts and if you can store the hay the way you have baled it then good on you. Let us know how many bales you actually manage to make, I am interested :-) Diane

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Vera, when I lived on the farm we created small hay stacks on the field then carted the hay off to the hay barn, then layered the hay in the hay barn and salted the hay so it would not rot or get moldy. This method was used for years in East Prussia before the II World War. The ruminants just loved the hay. You could also create a large haystack and cover it with a large tarp to keep it out of the rain.

Vera said...

Diane, indeed every penny does count! Am going to make sure that we keep most of our hay next year. And the bales I managed this year: 2! Well, the local farmer has taken over our hay crop for this year again.

Horst: thanks so much for your helpful hints. Will file them away from next year.

Niall & Antoinette said...

Good for you making your own bales! The farmer who has the field just at the edge of our land had 2 of his (the big rolled variety) collapse in piles of 'mess'. Obviously the baler had a hissy fit. They're out there as I write with a trailer, scooper thingy, good old fashioned pitch fork and tractor to salvage the hay.

John Gray said...

don't give up your day job!
10/10 for trying

Elsie Button said...

Hi Vera, oh wow - i can't believe i have never been here before - what an amazing blog - absolutley fascinating! Am about to show Tom too -he will love it!

Vera said...

Niall, Antoinette, thanks for visiting! The farmer who has finally cut our field has made some wobbly bales as well! They will be even wobblier if he doesn't take them away soon - the sheep have started eating them!

John: Oh your comment so made me laugh! And thanks for ten out of ten for effort!

Elsie: Thankyou also for visiting. I always read your blogs when you post them and find them very funny and endearing!

Steve (French Classified) said...

Wow Vera making your own hay bales by hand.
I have a few too many acres for our greedy horses, and I do not really want the farmer next door to make the great big bales for me, so I might have to copy your idea.

Well at least ponder the idea over a glass of wine.