Thursday, November 11, 2010

The (Wanna-Be) Farmers Must Be Crazy: Foraging Hay

This past summer the local newspaper did an article on us since they found it somewhat newsworthy that we bought this house and land back into the family and are trying to live more sustainably.  Of course, they wanted some quotes for the article, so they called a couple farmers we know in the area.  We suspected as much, but apparently the talk amongst the old-timers down at the corner store goes something like: "[Byron's] crazy for fooling with the farm now...They don't want  no cow!  They don't want no chickens!"  That's according to Mr. Woodward, a long-time farmer in the area who was friends with the Greens and is excited to see what we're doing here...he's even offered to help us choose a milk cow when the time comes.  I don't think Mr. Woodward thinks we're nuts, but I have a feeling he's been fielding some opinions from others in the area.  So with that reputation in mind, a few weeks ago Byron decided to forage hay.

We actually don't live in a dusty little corner of the county; we're a way back from the road but are still visible to passers-by.  So when Mr. Woodward's grandson cut the field by our house for hay, there were piles of the stuff still out there even after he baled it.  Well, when Byron saw that, he got about as excited about the loose hay as I did about the Autumn Berries.  He chose to make this a pre-dinner family adventure, which of course is right around the time when everyone else in the area is driving home from work.  The four of us were out there conspicuously raking hay into piles, and then Byron got a hold of Melvin's trailer.  Since we don't have the right hitch on our van, we pushed it around by hand to collect the hay.  Then we pushed it all the way back to the barn.  Twice.  I felt like I'd been zapped back to the 1930s.  All we were missing was an emaciated cow on a picket line.

There were waves.  There were honks.  And I bet there was much gossip up at the corner store.  But to Byron's credit, I think we got about one round bale's worth of hay out of it.  And those things aren't cheap.

See those little lumps?  That's the hay we raked.

Byron piled the hay onto a tarp...

...gathered it up...

...and hauled it into the loft.  Did I mention he hates ladders?

Charlie got to catch the tarp, and he promptly buried himself under it.  A father and son tug-of-war ensued.

Byron and his harvest of loose hay.
Behind this mound of hay are the twenty-some neat, easy-to-handle bales that Melvin gave us for helping him.  But I suppose to a cow (and in the end, to us), it's all good.


  1. Hadn't been here in a while and had to catch up on posts. I still marvel at your....not even sure what to call it.... creativity, determination, stick-to-itiveness? Probably all those and more. I don't think you're crazy at all :), but I do think you're a better woman than I. I've determined, after failing at even square foot gardening and having to provide water for the backyard chickens just once, that I am not cut out to be a farmer or a farmer's wife. I'm definitely not cut out for a Green Acres experience. I don't quite need "Park Avenue"; Beverly St. will do.

  2. Ironically, I was just telling a friend the other day how much I admire big families! NOT something I have the grace for; raising and homeschooling six kids as you're doing is simply amazing! So I'd say you have a valid excuse for forgetting to water the chickens, whereas I'll have to come up with a pretty creative argument whenever I forget to do the same, which is bound to happen at some point!

  3. Shudder. I hate getting up hay and all things hay related. I can't imagine having to do it the 'older'fashioned way. Having a baler is hard enough as it is!
    At least it's cooler weather though, if nothing else ;-)

  4. The irony was that we didn't HAVE to do it...Byron just couldn't stand it going to waste!