On June 7th we finally got a break from the rain that saturated the ground. Eddie headed to a small meadow that is in front of our house.
On June 7th, hay harvest season officially begins and the rain is over for almost two weeks.
Thankfully before it broke down one field was cut, season, tetted, raked and baled.
Eddie cut it down, Heather tetted and raked and Eddie baled it without getting it wet one time!!
Beautiful 4 x 4 bales that the cattle will love come wintertime!!
He moved on to a field that we normally pasture but this spring the grass is waist-high to my tall farmer and he didn’t want the cattle moved on it to only eat the short under-growth and waste the chance for a few extra bales in the haylot. THEN EVERYTHING CAME TO A HALT!!
After three rounds of mowing in the field this major piece of equipment, called a haybine, had a major meltdown.
There are two rollers with heavy rubber that looks like big tire rubber under the outer frame of the haybine. One end of the bottom roller had some heavy damage and the hay started wadding up between and on the end of the roller causing bearings to burn up. No hay made for two weeks waiting for that roller replacement to come in and a half day to replace it on the machine. Eddie had the awesome help of our farming neighbor, Andy Hutton, to fix the haybine! The parts to repair cost almost $4000. No farming is NOT cheap. While waiting on the parts to come in, Eddie called other farm equipment dealers and talked to other farmers to find out what kind of an ordeal he was in for and no one had EVER heard of a roller wearing out!!
Anyway, the equipment is repaired and we’re ready to roll on the hayfields again but we have to wait for our next four days of rain to come in and move out!! Life goes on!!
officially begun! Two small meadows were mowed yesterday along with a corner of one of the large fields. Today and tomorrow will be a mad rush to get all of it baled into 4 x 5 bales before another good chance of showers rolls in.
The grass had finished blooming and dropping seed.
It was so cool watching the tall grasses wave in the wind but not so cool to watch the clouds of pollen fill the air like a heavy fog over the fields.
This field and part of the big field started yesterday were cut today.
Hubby just started raking the first field he mowed yesterday. Our daughter, Heather, turned it over this morning to help it dry faster in the blazing sun.
First round of raking is half way completed.
The wind rows look four feet tall from where I sit on the porch taking pictures.
It has officially began on Caldwell Farms. I’m going to miss seeing those waves of grain in the field while sitting on the front porch every evening.
The orchard grass is over the backs of the whitetail deer.
The first field cut, raked and baled this year is out behind the barn that’s closest to the house.
This fields total yield last year was 191 and we’re anxious to see how it does this year.
Kubota tractor and rake have completed their work in this field for today.
The spring rains brought us a heavy crop of orchard grass.
The 4×5 baler is hard at work as is the driver of the tractor that’s pulling that baler.
The previous pictures are of the first field which was completed on Friday and Mr. Caldwell has moved on to three smaller meadows today. He probably won’t put anymore hay down until the weekend because it’s calling for heavy rain on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The grass is so heavy that it has to have at least two drying days before it can be baled. Wet grass means moldy hay which means sick cows that eat it and bad milk for the calves that nurse their mothers.
Meadow beside the mansion is small but produces big.
Meadow at the stable is the smallest and worst of the hay. We’ve already decided it’s needs a load of chicken litter. The litter has already proven itself on the other hayfields and pasture.
The only issue had this season is the poor quality sisal baling twine.
This is one of the bigger barns on the farm and I love walking through old barns and listening to the history by just looking at the interior. Here’s a view for you to see and listen for the history of all the work and animals that used it. We know sheep, beef cattle and dairy cattle used this barn.
This is a cider press that has been converted to electric power and we use it every year if we have a good supply of apples to make apple cider.
There’s been lots of our friends and neighbors pouring apples in the top and amazed at the juice that came out the bottom. This is usually an all day event and so much fun!
It’s a huge barn and we store equipment in it, store square bales of hay in it and use it for cows having trouble and we can use one of any number of stalls in it for allowing a vet to access the cow quickly and safely. We also use it for the orphans born on the farm.
It will take me weeks to catch up on all of my blog posts that I want to complete from the summer and this fall. Thought I would start with the wonderful hay season we had this summer. I don’t help much with the hay production but I do make sure there’s plenty of refreshment for my two hard workers, my hubby, Eddie and our daughter, Heather.
Eddie decides what fields are cut down first and does the cutting with the haybine and the baling with a round baler. Sometimes, we do square bales but later in the summer as a second cutting of the crop. Our hayfields have orchard grass, red clover and timothy. This summer we had bumper crops and more hay was baled than ever before due to the wonderful spring and summer rains.
Beautiful orchard grass and clover
Haybine hard at work.
We have a large Massey Ferguson tractor and by looking at the back wheels you can tell how high the grass was.
One of the last fields harvested.
The season left us with over 800 bales this year. I just hope we won’t need to use it all because that will mean a “winter monster”!
I did get to drive the big truck when it was time to move it all off the fields and that took quite a few trips in several days.
Moving hay with a 1970 truck.
I love this old girl.
Eddie stacks six bales on the truck and carried two on the tractor each trip to the haylot.
Eddie would have moved all of it by himself if I had not been retired and home to help! I’m starting to feel useful again on the farm.
Storms and scattered showers in early summer are a farmers heartbreak!
Clouds forming again!
Storm coming down the valley.
It’s now the end of June and we’ve only got two small fields of hay down and rolled.
On Father’s Day Eddie put down the first two small meadows of hay and stopped for fear of impending storms again in two days. On Monday he flipped it and let it dry, Heather raked it and Eddie got it rolled.
First round to go down in 2015 on Father’s Day!
It took about an hour and you could tell from the tractor tires that the ground was wet. It would take a strong sun and some wind to get it dry.
Last round in field one.
Mother Nature was kind with only a light shower during the night, hot sun and windy on Monday. After lunch the two rushed to make hay and officially start the summer work.
They rolled up 27 bales on this small space that usually produces twenty 4×5 bales. Wednesday the other meadow went up and now it’s all baled, off the field and stacked tightly end to end along the driveway fence. It’s a start but we’ve got a long way to go and looks like tomorrow and Monday of this coming will be the only chance they’ll get another area down and rolled.
It’s official-the first hay is down and rolled. It’s so pretty and the bales are so perfect. First he cut and baled some pasture that had some beautiful grass on it and even though it got wet , it dried really good and he got 27 rolls off one small area you’ll see here:
First 27 hay rolls for June 2013. Baled and stored in the house orchard.
This was completed week before last and now look how pretty and green the pasture is where it was mowed. You can see how tall the grass was along the edges of the pasture.
Thursday another part of the same pasture was mowed and Friday & Saturday hubby and Heather tetted, raked and rolled it. Today hubby hauled it off the pasture and I hitched and unhitched the wagon on the pasture and at the haylot. He’s trying to get it moved and stacked before the rain rolls in and so he can move the big herd of cattle to this pasture. There’s a back field connected to this pasture that we can’t get the equipment in this year because of downed trees in the roadway through the woods. The cattle will definitely be fat and sassy when they get in it for about a week. We’ve got three months to get the calves fat for fall sales. I’ve included a up close picture of the grass to make my point.
Pasture grass taller and thicker than whats in the hayfields.
It’s amazing to me that anyone may be short on hay this winter since we had such a great season. But then I think about the drought the rest of the country had and still has and then I understand. We had about 70 round bales left from summer 2011 and met our needs with some to spare this year. We started feeding out the older hay first and when the snows come hubby puts a couple in each patch of woods that the cattle are in and feeds the good hay first thing in the morning. The cattle move from the fresh to the older as the weather turns bad. The calves like playing and nibbling in the older hay too. Our cattle are in good shape and the fall calving is complete now since the end of November. Our spring calves will come in late March, early April through May.
One of three haylots full of round bales.
Gielbiev-Angus cross – love the babies!
My older hens have quit laying but I also raised late chicks in June and they’ve started laying for me. I guess it’s a type of rotation laying in our henhouse. I never use heat lamps or special lighting because I think they need a rest too. I make sure they get a tablespoon of vinegar in their fresh water each morning, lots of grit in one feeder, and cracked corn to put on some fat on their bodies which will help them make it through the winter. The vinegar helps rid them of worms, I’m told and they seem to be in better shape since I started using the apple cider vinegar. I don’t let them out of the henhouse when there’s snow/ice on the ground. The biggest problem I have is the younger hens want to sleep in the nests at night because the older hens (pecking order) run them off the roost. Hubby fixed that by building an additional roosting section to the existing roost and all but one hen now uses the roost. She tends to make a nasty mess in the nests during the night and by the time I get to the hen house in the morning another hen has laid her eggs in the mess. I have 38 chickens of which three are young roosters. I’m only getting 6-8 eggs a day now but it’s more than enough for us to use and share with the kids as they visit. I have about 10 hens that need to be culled but I find it hard to let them go because when I enter the henhouse some of them come to me singing and of course, I sing back to them. I always have a couple hens that get broody and hatch but you never where the hatch will be roosters or hens. I think this spring I”ll order a new batch of Buff Orpingtons and Americauna’s. I love those beautful eggs. Two of the three roosters I have are Americauna and the other is a mix but he is a beauty.
New roost addition to accomdate everyone!
King of the Roost
He’s a little over a year old but his sisters are giving me double yolk brown eggs. I haven’t found an adequate name for him yet but thinking about it!
It’s June, the weather is hot and the grass is turning brown on the tips. It’s time to make hay!! Early summer is a very busy time for all farmers because they’re preparing for the winter ahead and keeping the livestock fed. As of last week, my husband and daughter had mowed down, raked up and baled 125+ round bales of hay. That total is about one third of what we will need to make it through a fairly bad winter. We have about eighty 4×5 foot bales left over from last year because we had a very warm and short winter season and we have about that many left over from the year before that.
This is one of the toughest jobs they have on the farm because you deal with rain, heavy dew, riding on equipment that doesn’t have a really smooth comfort zone and of course, that bearing down sun. The heat so far this year has ranged from low to mid 70’s early in the day to high 90’s in late afternoon. It’s very important to stay hydrated and protect your skin. NOW, I must tell you the two stubborn people working on our farm think that sunscreen attracts hay seed and hay dust and therefore rarely if ever wear sunscreen. They think the canopy on the tractors will protect them. Needless to say, they are both quite brown-skinned now and I’m envious but won’t trade places with them. Me and the sun do NOT get along. I do however appreciate the hard work they put in and love the time they get to spend together even though they’re working.
The cattle will be very pleased with this crop during the winter months when they can’t find a green spot on the ground and their tummy’s are growling and their babies are growing inside them.
I’ve included a few pictures of the work at hand. Please take heed and watch out for our farmers on the road. They are putting food in our mouths even though they’re making the hay for the livestock!!
This is the blog for our little farm in Skagit county. Here we have Shetland sheep and Nigerian Dwarf goats. In addition we have donkeys, llamas, cattle, pigs, chickens, geese, and peafowl. The blog describes the weekly activities here.