Happy October! My favorite month of my favorite season.
From my window where I write, I see a hay field. I've spent much time looking out this window, watched many seasons come and go. Around here, you won't see much oohing and ahhing over the name brands of the latest pair of jeans, watch or car. But now, you've got a tractor? We're talkin' big time. Shucks.
Even my professorial husband longs to be part of the club. Every time we pass a tractor shop he wants to take a peek. Keep on walkin', his wife says, you keep your nose in the books. But we both agree - we'll be farmers someday. And still read books. And he can have his tractor.
I have to admit, I'm kind of a farmer stalker myself; who's driving what, who's haying where...there's been farm drama, neighbor conspiracy, and donkey talk that would rival The Housewives.
Oh yes, it's quite exciting. I feel an anticipation as summer wanes and fall comes into full swing, because that means its hay season, the crowning glory of the field.
I love the dutiful farmer (they often really do wear overalls!), the long grass, the drying, baling, and gathering.
My father grew up on a farm in Idaho and often expresses his wish that we had too. So I feel lucky that we're getting a tiny piece of that wish.
All spring and summer the grass grows wild and free. First you must get your Little House romp in while you can. After the romp, you must turn the grass over to the farmer. Your time is done.
Hay is especially valuable if it has clover; cows love clover for its sweetness and good hay can fetch a pretty penny. The other day I needed a bale and was told it was going to cost me TEN DOLLARS! Ha. I went to talk to my farmer friends. It pays to stay tight with the farmer.
If it's a good season, you can get a couple good hay runs in. I don't know if that's what it's called, I just said that.
The long grass is cut and then sits for days in the sun drying. It's a careful balance of rain and sun. I know this from my observing, from my comfortable seat in the house while sipping something cold and sweet.
After cutting, the hay is then fluffed and set to dry again
and fluffed one more time for good measure. If you try to gather hay while it's wet, it will rot and be worthless. My farmer friends tolerate me while I snap picture after picture, waving all excited and giddy - it's HAY DAY!
Nice and dry, perfect for baling. See how I'm mastering my farmer lexicon?
Sometimes, if rain is coming, the farmers do the cutting, baling, and gathering in one day, from sun-up to sun-down. If I'm away for a day, I come home disappointed that I missed all the action.
This is Hersey Farm, just down the road from us. It is a multi-generational farm that is now protected from building; this makes me so happy. I see this picturesque, romantic scene and swoon. I'm sure they see and feel the hot sun, sweat, fatigue, and a long long day. My dad always laughs, "haying is hard, hard work." Hence his computer job.
But it sure is a beautiful sight from where I sit.
These guys are getting older and I wonder - are there young kids to take over the haying? Is there a place on the college apptitude test for haying?
The end of a good hay run: Hay for the winter. Hay to keep the summer weeds down. Cow and horses will be fed and kept warm. My chickens will have a nesting spot.
Next time you go for a hayride or see a bale of hay outside the supermarket or sit on a hay bale around a warm campfire, remember the farmer and the pains it took to gather that hay.
Hay makes for some great photo shoots
And is somewhat itchy.
It's late in the hay season now but if we're lucky we will have one more hay crop this year. If it doesn't snow or hail or monsoon...the weather is always full of surprises.
But the grass continues to grow, waiting for the next romp and the next hay day.
I'm watching out the window, like a scene out of Rear Window, keeping tabs and biting my nails with anticipation.
Coming from a hay field near you...