With a favorable forecast, a three day weekend, and hip-high grass in the pasture, it was time to make some hay. I got home from an 11 hour workday Thursday and busied myself peening the 85cm (33″+) scythe blade I’ve dubbed the haymaker. Peening is the process of hitting the very edge between a hammer and anvil in order to thin it enough that it will take and keep honing (sharpening) in the field while cutting. I’ve quickly come to know that this is a crucial part of scything with European blades as otherwise it is simply too much work, or worse, it just doesn’t work at all.
Grass is best cut in the morning dew as it is more tender. So, after Friday morning chores and good strong coffee with heavy cream, I set out to the field with scythe and whetstone. First order of business was scoping how I wanted the windrows to line up, more or less. When cutting, the material is naturally laid down to the left of the mower and as they advance, it creates a line, or windrow. And then another…and another.
As you can see, each row took me 9 or 10 minutes. Some areas were tougher than others depending on type of grass or unevenness of terrain. Overall, the cutting was totally manageable and compared to last year, I had plenty of energy left to start tedding.
Tedding is the process of spreading and turning the hay in order to allow air and sun to dry it. If not fully dried, there is a risk of spontaneous combustion! Not wishing the barn to burn down, I spread it out far and wide, probably above and beyond the call of duty. But again, the barn. Saturday, I tedded some more making sure any buried green clumps were fully separated and exposed. All weekend it was 70’s and sunny with a light breeze. Sunday after letting the dew dry, we began raking the now dry hay into rows. Gwen was able to push the rows into large piles. We drove the truck to the field and loaded it with one person forking from below, and one person tucking, spreading, stomping, and knitting the load together with a hay fork.
You can read all about how we bailed hay by cramming it into a garbage can last year here. While the results were successful, they were also a pain in the neck. This year we decided to forgo the twine and store it loosely. We chose a newly built stall that was designed to house the sheep we never got. So, I built a floor and we stuffed it to the gills. Well, actually the two truckloads only filled the stall about half way. But, we ended up with 210 square feet out of the weekend. Perhaps enough to last half the winter, depending on how many pigs are on board. The hay will be bedding, feed, and mulch.