For the last week we’ve been holding our breath, every day praying to the gods of sunshine and grass that the weather stay true; sunshine and warm breezes was what we needed, no rain for us thank you very much.
We’d held off as the weather forecast told us day after day there were risks of showers or thunder storms, showers and thunder storms that never came. Day after day of beautiful sun came and went, wasted on us as we had not yet cut. And so came the final day, the day we decided to go for it, last Wednesday Stephen went out with our newly acquired (and repaired) haybine to cut the hay. The hay fell before it’s mighty blades (ahem), falling in swathes to the dry ground, beckoning the sun to dry it to perfection.
That night, up in town at my friends house, I watched in despair as the rain poured down, tipping off the edge of the roof to hit the ground hard, monsoon like it spilled in fat streaks, silhouetted against the lightening the heralded my doom. Another friend there that night received a phone call from her husband telling her a tree had just fallen on their property, and that she shouldn’t attempt to drive in such bad weather. Not a great omen.
After days of no rain it had arrived, on the very day we’d cut our hay, the hay we need to feed our cows through the many months of Canadian winter. My heart was in my shoes as I drove home that night, but as I got further south and closer to home I noticed the roads drying up, no sign at all of the passing storm. Somehow it had slipped north of us, leaving our field alone, leaving it dry and untouched. I praised mightily whichever generous breezes had pushed that storm clouds away from our land, sending them to town where they could rain and thunder with impunity; I woke with relief the next day to clear skies and dry ground, but continued to watch with worried eyes.
I watched each cloud that scudded by, even the friendly fluffy ones. I watched each morning to see if the grey cumulus that crowded the skyline would depart, each day they did and each day I was grateful. After 4 days on the field Stephen went out to rake it, but it is never as simple as that. The rake broke repeatedly (apparently it needs a new gearbox) leaving us frustrated and worried. But through the heat of the day my chap soldiered on, repairing what he could and, eventually, borrowing our neighbours rake to finish the job. The next day our neighbour came in the late afternoon, after a long warm day had smiled down on our neatly(ish) raked hay and baled it into smooth, round discs of perfection.
Last night we walked down to Bottom Field in the late evening sunshine, a ritual that is 3 summers old now. We inspected the bales, looking at the quality of the hay (fabulous), counting out the bales (51) and generally high fived ourselves for producing such top notch hay for our cows this winter. They will feast mightily on these tightly bound green bales, nourishing themselves with these slices of summer throughout the long monochrome months.
After waiting for what seems like an age for this day, I feel a huge sense of relief to have the hay harvest in. It is such a crucial time in the calendar and such a vital crop if we are to continue raising cows. I think back to that first year, the year our neighbour took the hay for us,producing bales full of thick branches, only fit for bedding; bedding for animals we didn’t own back then. Only 3 summers later we have hay to rival any farm and four cows roaming our fields enjoying the green pasture and sunshine. A lot has changed in these last 3 years, not least of all us.
So now the scary part is done, though there is work to follow. Stephen has to move last years hay to a new spot and bring up the beautiful new bales. They need to be stacked and covered over, ready for the cold months to come. But for now I pretty much feel like this,
The hay is in!