Hazards of Farming

 

Last summer I spent quite a bit of time telling you about the process of doing hay.   For city people, it’s quite an education.  I am still learning – in fact every time I get on the tractor, it’s like learning all over again.  Well, this year I learned something new.  It’s a bit embarrassing, these lessons of mine.  But I feel like you need to know.  I mean, if you ever get thrown onto a farm (willingly or reluctantly) I want you to have the knowledge that I wish I’d have had before this process.  It’s like the parent who wishes their kids would learn from their mistakes and not let their kids learn from personal experience.  It doesn’t always happen that way, but at least I’m doing my part. 

One day I was in a store – can’t remember which store.  I saw this, and thought it was a sort of gag item.  Something that might have been sold around April Fool’s day or maybe Halloween.

Doing research for this post, I happily stumbled across this:

Let me ‘splain.  It’s been hay time again.  And while I’ve helped fairly extensively in past years, there’s always been reprieve.  Prince Farming’s dad and his help have come over, and Prince Farming has done at least one of the processes himself, so my time on the tractor was broken up.  But this time I had to mow, fluff, and rake three huge fields.   Normally I mow with a tractor that has an air-conditioned cab.  But on my way down the hill when I tried to raise the mower arm, there was a hydraulic hose in just a wrong spot, and the hose got pinched and broke, rendering the hydraulic system useless.  With very little time to spare (rain in the forecast), I parked that tractor, and rode over to Prince Farming’s dad’s farm and borrowed their mower, which was already conveniently attached to their tractor.  An open cab with a canopy.  No worries, I can handle an open cab.  Never mind that this tractor has to be started, not with a key, but with a loose wire that you hold to two spots and it kicks on.  That’s another post though.  So I got started mowing, and only an hour later than I’d hoped.  The shade of the canopy was good, but it was still hot.  I was in shorts and flip-flops, and figured I’d probably get a bit of sun, which couldn’t be a bad thing.  First day – all the mowing was done. 

Second day – on to fluffing (or teddering, for those of you who can’t stay on the farm when the word fluffer is used).  This time I could use our own tractor – but not the air-conditioned cab one.  The little cub cadet – also with a canopy – was the vehicle of use (not choice).  I don’t love this process because I can’t see where I’ve been as clearly as when I mow or rake, but it’s a necessary process to help in the drying of the hay.  I got all the fields teddered, and went to bed exahausted.  Spending 6-8 hours on a tractor might sound like a lazy day, but my body was sore and my mind numb.  I woke with a start at 2am.  It was POURING RAIN on my freshly cut and teddered hay.  That means that instead of raking first thing in the morning, I had to go over and fluff all over again.  So there I was – on the open tractor.  Let me paint a little word picture for you.  It’s HOT.  The fields are BUMPY.  On the sides of hills, you can barely keep yourself from sliding off the seat. And you’re SWEATING.  The combination of wet, sweaty shorts, very bumpy, slidey riding . . . well.  Here.  This might give you a better idea.

This is what spending endless days on a tractor leaves you feeling like.  I’m not kidding.  Prince Farming came  home from work when I was just done with the teddering and suggested I take a break.  I was SO relieved.  I really didn’t want him on the tractor much – especially on the bumpiest of fields because he hurt his back a  few weeks ago, and I didn’t want him to aggravate the injury.  His dad came over to help bale.  I’m not sure how the conversation went between them, but Prince Farming made it known that I needed a break from the tractor seat for a while.  He finished raking and his dad did the baling.  And my butt got a break. 

It took a couple of days to feel totally better, but I was able to go back out and load the hay bales onto the trailer and bring them to the barn before too much more time went by.  And I wasn’t on the open tractor for long enough to aggravate my injury.

There.  Consider yourselves educated.  And warned.

 

The Recipe for Hay

 


This week’s Heads or Tails topic is:  Recipe

When I saw this posted last week, I figured I was going to share a boring (but delicious) recipe for Napa Cabbage.  But that will have to wait for another day.  Today I decided to share the recipe (at least in part) for Hay.  I know there have to be people out there who are dying to know how to make hay, but who just haven’t found the recipe.  Let me help you out. 

Here’s what you need:

One Misty Morning.  If you swing around to look behind you, it might look like this:

Throw in one tractor – with mower contraption attached

For good measure and a little excitement, try fighting one of these. . . INSIDE the tractor cab.  I mean right by my face.

If anyone knows their spiders, maybe you can help out with identification.  Here’s a better picture (BTW – I stopped the tractor to take these marvelous shots, in case you’re wondering)  I didn’t crop the picture this way – the spider was crawling out of my range, and I got it just in time.  Right before I took the dust pan to fling that thing out of the window.

Okay – back to the recipe.  Sorry for that little diversion.

 

 

After you have a field, a morning, and a tractor, oh, and a reluctant (or not) farm chik, add time. A lot of time.  Like 8 hours, maybe.  With some crazy people who just happened to show up for work today to build the barn.  Or no, maybe just to watch the crazy chik in the tractor.  How many times will she get hung up on a fence line?  And how will she maneuver out of the fence line?  And I wonder what she’ll do if we walk across the field toward her to ask for 2-cycle gas because we didn’t bring enough.

Okay – those are the ingredients for this step.  Now comes the procedure.  Brace yourselves.  I know – you can hardly stand it.  Me either.

Go through the motion of getting everything started.  Luckily the key in the ignition with a turn brought about some rumbling.  That might be a good sign.  Let the motor warm up. 

Don’t move any of the mower adjustments – they’re exactly where they should be (as per Prince Farming). 

Start the mower motor (PTO) by lifting up the yellow knob and turning it.  No, turn it the other way.  Okay. 

Speed up the tractor motor (also the PTO then, since it’s engaged) to 2,000 thingys (whatever that term is).  You know that’s happened, because the needle hovers over the 20.   Good grief. 

Then put the one gear lever into "B" range and shift the other one into 2nd.  Or 3rd.  Whichever you can handle.  (WHAT can I handle?) 

Take your foot off the clutch.  Then hang on.  For dear life.  And be careful around the corners. 

And watch the mower.  Don’t run over anything (I’m assuming other than hay).

And if you hear any funny sounds, turn it off.  Or slow down. 

And if the belt seems too loose, then tighten it one turn (Okay – there’s a whole ‘nother blog entry called "if the belt seems too loose")  HOW will I know if the belt is too loose?  Will it jump off? 

And, by the way,  the thing always makes a funny noise.  If I turned it off every time there was a funny noise, I’d spend the day turning it on, and then turning it off. 

And watch the mower. 

If one were to watch the mower, how would one know where to steer?  And what exactly would one be watching for, if one were to keep one’s eyes glued to the mower.  Theres a thingy that spins around and around at an alarming rate.  And there’s something rubbing on something else that makes an alarming sound.  But one can’t be exactly sure about what one is watching.  Back there.  One should rather keep one’s eyes facing in the forward direction with a possible, but only occasional, backward glance through the rear-facing window.  (Don’t tell Prince Farming.)

Here’s the bottom line:

I mowed for 8 hours.  All that I missed were 2 huge fields, one tiny field, and a part of a field around a pond/swamp, which I studiously avoided so I wouldn’t get stuck in the mud (did that once before – last year – had to wait to be pulled out of the mud by Prince Farming’s dad. . . who happens to be one of my all time favorite people in the entire world – and not just because he pulled me out of the mud.  Without negative comments.  And only a few snide remarks.)

So today will be the rest of the fields.  Actually I think I’ll tackle the two big fields.  That’s it.  And not even the one whole big field, because that field is on a precipice.  And tractors, me, and precipices don’t mix so very well.  Not friendly at all.  Nope.  I’ll just do the flatish parts.

After mowing the hay, it has to be fluffed (not by me – I’m not allowed to touch the fluffer – aww shucks!).  Then it has to be raked (which to me, takes more skill than fluffing, but I’m allowed required to do that).  And then baling.  Not by me.  Then hauling.  By me.  Maybe I’ll post some of those pictures on Friday.  Ooi, this week is not going how I planned it to go.  Which is just how farming is.  You farm when the farming needs to be done.  Just plan on it.

This is the 2nd cutting of hay.  The first was much better qualify.  Tall grass, lush clover.  The 2nd cutting has more weeds.  But it’s also more pretty.  Here are a couple of things I shot through the window before I plowed over and mowed them flat.

You can play Heads or Tails every week too by visiting here.

Farm Day

 

You must be as surprised as I am with this post.  Afterall, it’s TUESDAY, not THURSDAY or SUNDAY.  I’d asked Prince Farming on Sunday whether we needed to mow hay, but because of Hurricane Gustav and Ike, Diesel prices are ridiculous, and we’re practically out, so he said we were going to hold off for a while.  So I planned my week.  Very full.  Lots of commitments and ideas and inspiration.  Then Prince Farming’s dad (and our neighbor) called to say that the weather now is perfect for hay, and we need to do it.  Now.  This week.  So I can’t stay and chat.  Last night we hitched the mower onto JD in the dark and took two loops around a field to make sure it was all working okay.  I’ll be able to tell you all about it.  But not now.  Must mow.  Now.  Today.  Ugh.  I feel a bit more than slightly reluctant.  My blog name is perfect.

 

Here’s a flower to cheer us up.  This flower was growing all by itself in a pile of rocks.  This flower is "the other side of reluctance"

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