The field was thigh high, seed pods swaying in the wind. Tim had harrowed multiple times and fertilized. We moved the pipe religiously every 2 days. 12 hours on, 12 hours off. Our 7+ back field was overgrazed to the nub when we bought this place last summer. Tim researched and we got some tips from some old timers. Number one: Do not water constantly & move the pipe as much as you can. We learned that watering 24/7 is counterproductive. Excess water simply washes the minerals and nutrients right out of the soil. It was scary turning off our water every day while our neighbors never did, but soon our field began to reward us.
Cutting time arrived and Cory drove in with the swather. The machine cut the grass down and laid it into fluffy rows. The weather was good to us, at least for the first day of drying. Tim went out and turned over the heavy spots to get the last moisture from the underlying cut. Cory brought the baler and we were set for the following day. That evening, the clouds roared in threatening moisture and by morning we had a full on rainstorm. We waited 2 more days, hoping the wind wouldn’t take our precious harvest as it again dried to the proper level for baling.
Tim and I couldn’t help but grin as the baler trucked down the rows spitting our plump heavy bales. When Cory finished he gave us the count. 180 bales! More than 6 tons of hay. After we traded out Cory his cut, we still have enough to feed our horses for the entire winter. The loader picked up the bales and brought them around to our barn where we got busy stacking. Just as the last bales were safely tucked inside, the skies again opened. We sat on our own hay and watched heavy raindrops drench the ground. One by one, the animals ran in from the rain and joined us under the roof.
I can’t believe we are going to be feeding our horses our very own hay. Tim popped open a bale and said, “smell this.” Our mutual smiles beamed. All of our pipe moving, rock removal, weed pulling, horse poop harrowing… It has all culminated in a tangible product that will stead our herd of two through the winter.
That same day, we moved the pipe back out. We are going for a second cut, although Cory says it isn’t done around here. Tim and Cory have a bet, a PBR is riding on whether we can get the field to produce another yield. The criteria: Worth cutting.