Hay in a Day

I loved hay-making as a girl.  We put thousands of small square bales in our haybarn in order to feed our 50 cows, as well as the youngstock, all winter long.  Things have changed some since I was a girl, but I can certainly say that my children share the same love of making hay that I did at that age.

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Vince thinks that making haylage or corn silage is the best job on the farm.  The kids would ride in semis and in the chopper all day long if I let them.

If you interviewed 10 farmers about how they make hay, you’d get 10 different answers.  There isn’t necessarily a best way, it is just that every farm finds what fits best for them.  Small square bales, round bales, custom bales, baleage, haylage…..whatever you call it….everybody is just trying to store hay to be fed all year long.  This is how we do it at Ocheda Dairy.

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This is my father-in-law mowing the hay. He is using a tractor that has the ability to mow in front, as well as on the sides. In this field, he has already mowed to the left and to the right, and is finishing this pass.

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Close-up of the mower.

Then, we let it dry.  The term “Hay in a Day” refers to being able to mow a field one day, let it dry for about 4-24 hours and then come back to merge and chop that hay.  It is a great way to be able to plan harvest and avoid rain showers.  We have been using this method for a few years.

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This is the merger. It picks up all the hay and puts it together in what we call a windrow. The merger is either waiting or hurrying depending on the moisture of the hay. On a hot and windy day, the hay will dry very quickly until it is merged, and it is critical to get the moisture correct to ensure that the hay stores well.

We just bought a new chopper!  It was made in Germany, but unfortunately we weren’t invited to watch it being made at the factory.  A girl can dream.

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My husband usually drives the chopper. Depending on how close the the field is to our feed storage area, 2-5 more people will drive semis. Add onto that one person mowing, one merging, and one driving a huge four-wheel drive tractor to pack and shape the pile of hay. It takes a lot of cooperation and planning!

There is some super-neat technology on the chopper.  One of them is a metal detector.  The chopper immediately stops chopping if it detects metal because we obviously can’t feed that to our cows.

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It can sense approximately where the metal is on the head of the chopper, and then the semi driver hops out to try to find it. This time it was a hook of some sort. It can take seemingly forever to go across an area where a fenceline used to be.

Some of the best farm memories!

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6 thoughts on “Hay in a Day

  1. Did I ever tell you that I drove a hay truck one summer when I was in 8th grade? All the farmers did rectangular bales and it took several guys to buck the bales and one person to drive – so they like getting wimpy people to drive who wouldn’t be wasting their muscles – otherwise they’d be bucking bales, too! So I drove the hay truck three times, I think it was. With all these smelly guys. Talk about awkward. They deducted money from my pay check if I accidentally drove over a bale. I made a grand total of $18 (or maybe it was $13?). I stank as a hay truck driver. (And yes, if you’re wondering, I blogged about it last fall, I believe it was!)

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