Making Hay While the Sun Shines [Part 1]

Greetings from Land’s End in Nova Scotia!

It has been a very busy summer and I haven’t had much time for writing. The weather gave us fog, dreary clouds, drizzle and intermitent sunshine for most of June, July and August. In other words it was lousy weather for making hay the way we do here in Short Beach, for the most part.

The first week of June was great. There was sun and northwest winds. Rex  seeing Bill getting out the work harness tried to slip away to the back pasture. Bill and Rex understand each other so very well! Each eyes the other. Rex walks around grazing and sleepy eyed like he isn’t noticing Bill has varied from his normal chores and is sharpening the knives on the mowing machine. Bill continues preparing the mower for mowing and ignores Rex. It is a waiting game.  Rex times it perfectly starting his exit just as Bill is about to go get him to work! Bill scurries with bridle in hand and catches Rex, who had now increased his slow pace to a fast walk. Reluctant but obedient and resigned to his fate Rex follows Bill back to the barn led by bridle and reins.

Bill lays the harness over the horse’s back and fastens the belly strap. On goes the horse collar and hanes to hold it in place. He hooks the whiffle tree with chains to the mowing machine  Bill boards the mower and sets comfortably on the iron seat for the hundredeth  or more time in his life. He  urges Rex forward with ” Get Up!” and continues  around the front of our house to the hay field.

Lining up at the edge of the field he lowers the cutting blade with knives. Our field is sloped so Rex mows down in one direction. He gets an effortless walk back to the top of the field. Down the field and back, clickty clack! I love the sound of the mower as it falls the hay in neat rows. Bill only mows a half dozen swaths at a time as it is all he can turn by hand. Bill lets Rex rest under the Chestnut tree after a couple of trips . The crop is heavy and it is a hard pull. Bill sometimes has to stop and dislodge hay caught in the mower.

Rex having done is part is happy to be out of harness, wiped down and returned to the pasture to graze and have a cool drink in the brook. Bill is watching the sky. The weather forecaster promised a nice week of sun and north west winds. It would promise to be the only good haying week until late August!

Bill got his hay fork and returned to the field to start the laborous task of spreading the mowed hay out so it can start drying. The next three days he turned the hay three times a day until it was finally dry enough to put in the barn. Raking  hay with a hay rake into long winrows is time consuming. He then hooks his hay cart to his lawn tractor and starts raking the hay in piles and forking it on the cart. He used to use a horse for this also  until  he was given a lawn tractor from his Dad.

Molly our farm dog does her part also. As Bill loads the hay she jumps on the cart and stows it down.She rides every load back to the barn . As Bill lifts the loose hay with a pitcher fork to the mow; Molly  stows the hay in the mow and rides the empty cart back to the field. She loves her job and continues until all the first cutting is in the mow of the barn.

The next day Bill and Rex mowed the rest of the field and the whole process was repeated. However the changing wind meant  there wouldn’t  be many more sunny days.  The wind was swinging to the southwest indicating rain. [To be con’t.}

About lrose

Greetings from " Land's End" in Nova Scotia! My name is Linda Rose. My husband , Bill, and I have been living on and farming organically on a ten acre farm for 23 years now. Bill grew up dairy farming and I grew up and lived in both the city and country. We were married thirty years ago July 9th. and are former Light House Keepers. I am a writer, mother of four, grandmother of two, former dog groomer, hospital worker and now do child care part time. Bill always farmed but also did gardening for others . He was also assitant Light Keeper on Green Island and Bon Portage Island off the south shore of Nova Scotia. We live in what is now called Short Beach on the south shore of Nova Scotia. Many years ago before the first white settlers set foot from their sailing vessels on the rocky shores of Short Beach the natives called this place Kespoogwit. Translated to English it means "lands end" Appropriately named, the land does end a two minute walk from our farm. This is where the Atlantic Ocean beats the rocky shores holding us spell bound. Nature, ever changing, demostrates the puniness of man or woman to the relentless forces of the sea. The forefathers of many people who reside in this area sailed on vessels from England and Scotland. They journeyed to Nova Scotia to begin their lives afresh in a new land. They brought with them only the bare essentials of clothing and tools and in some cases animals. They came men, women and children. Challenged by the weather more than from hostility of the original inhabitants, many a stout man and woman carved homesteads from forested land near the Atlantic. The weather and rocky soil presented obstacles for the original homesteaders and the generations who would follow them. Bill and I came to Short Beach in 1985. I prefer to call our homestead "Land's End". Our journey was much different than that of the first homesteaders who settled here. However our lifestyle is not a whole lot different. We still till the ground and mow the hay with horse drawn implements. I sweep the house with a straw broom and cook on a wood stove. Although ;someone thinking I was missing something gave us an electric stove and fridg; I still prefer my wood stove. Our wood for heat comes from a wood lot and is hauled five miles home with our work horse. Our food is grown organically using mostly simple hand tools to work the soil. The Atlantic continues to hold its observers hypnotized by its sporadic beauty. Tranquil repose is periodically interrupted by furious surging tides, eroding and redefining the shoreline of Short Beach. This is Kespoogwit ; "Land's End". It is our home.