Greetings from Land’s End in Nova Scotia !
I have to write in shorter segments these days as I no longer have internet at homeÂ . At the library I am allowed an hour and sometimes two to use a computer. Then I am done until another day. With my poor visionÂ I am a very slow writer!
Reflecting on haying this year I dare say it was one of the hardest years we had in the twenty three we have been on this farm. With the changing windÂ now from the southwest fog moved inÂ mornings. The second part of the fieldÂ lay drenched in wet fog until late morning or early afternoon. The sun came out and Bill was hard at work spreading the hay out to dry. Â Before dampness came in the evening he had to rakeÂ the hayÂ in piles again. Still he managed to get the second cut in the barn.Â Part was damp and had to be removed several times from the barn to the lawn to finish drying.
There was still another cutting to do in the main field and several smaller cuttings in smaller areas that used to be gardens. The first week in June ended without that third section mowed. It rained; was muggy and foggy Â the rest of June. By July Bill mowed the remainder of the first field and let it lie. Some where before the end of July with intermittant sun he managed to get it partly dry and made haylage.
Here I have to sayÂ I admire Bill’s ingenuity. He is the only person I know who can make haylage without any equipment! He did it totally by hand! Bill had acquired three fish boxes from the fish plant. They are grey hard plastic and about four feet square and four feet tall. The boxes are normally used to hold and transport fish but the government does not allow their reuse. Since they are discarded they were free to us.
Bill lined one box with heavy plastic which was also free from the fish plant. He put the partially dried hay loose in the box after washing them thoroughly. Hay used for haylage needs only to be dried a day or two at most.Â Then he wrapped the plastic around the hay squeezing out air as he wrapped. I helped hold the plastic as he used duct tape to secure it shut! Thank goodness for duct tape! We use it for many things. It is important to wrap as tightly as humanly possible with out a machine to do it for you. After the plastic was secure he replaced the lid on the box. It will set until later this winter when he feeds Â it to the animals. He made haylage last year and the goats and horse loved it.
If done properly the haylage will not mold. The secrect is to squeeze out the air. Those big bales of haylage farmers put up Â that look like giant marshmellows are too big for anyone only having a few animals. Haylage has to be used up in a few days of unwrapping or it will spoil. Making it as Bill does our animals can eat it before it spoils. This is important as spoiled haylage can make cows, horses or goats very sick. We only ever bought one large baleÂ not knowing this and almost lost a goat and horse when they got diarreahÂ from moldy haylage.
August the weather remained the same. I never recall seeing such grey, bleak days in the summer all the time I have lived here. Often we have fog in June and July but there will be breaks of sun that last more than part of a day as was the case this year. Sometimes it would be sunny in town or up the road and foggy in Short Beach. It was hot this year up in the 80’s F [ 25 C ] but very muggy. Finally the last week of August the wind shifted to the northwest and sunny skies returned.
Bill used that last fine week of August to mow the smaller areas of hay. By now the mow was full. He also had hay stored in an empty horse stall and didn’t know where to put the rest? He commented if the hay was baled he could stack it on the barn floor.Â He put on his thinking cap and came up with a way to bale hay without a baler!
Once again he enlisted the fish box. This time he put a piece of plywood on edge in the middle of the box to divide it. He cut four lenghts of rope that were long enough to drape down the sides of the box, across the bottom and up the other side. Two ropes were placed on each side of the plywood divider.Â One end of each rope he made a loop in . Through the loops he passed a pole the length of the box.. The pole rested on the edge of the box and kept the ropes from falling in as he forked hay into both sides of the box.
After a few fork fulls of hay Bill climbed into the box and stampedÂ the hay down.Â He continued to do this until both sides of the box had hay tightly packed. Next he pulled each loose end of rope across the top and passed it through a loop. He pulledÂ eachÂ taut and tiedÂ them securely. Next he liftedÂ one bale at a time from the box. Each bale weighed thirty pounds and was tied with two ropes. These he was able to stack out of the way on the barn floor. He did several bales this way and finally was done haying!
The mower cracked and broke near a previousÂ repair welding just after he finished this year’s mowing.Â The mower will have to be fixed before it is oiled and put away for winter. Bill always fixes machinery before storing it so it will be ready for another year.
Haying was finally finished by the first week of September. This is later than ever before. Bill was tired as he looked in the barnÂ but had a great since of satisfaction that our animals will eat good this winter. Rex no longers hides to get out of work and Molly stretched out in the evasive sunshine and yawned.
It was a hard haying season but we are thankful there is plenty of foodÂ for our animals this winter. By next yearÂ the hard work will be forgotten and Bill as always will enthusiastically look forward to sweet smell of newly mowed hay.