With the recent spell of hot weather - hay making has been in full swing.
Good hay generally takes about a week to make - so we are very dependent on a settled spell.
For example, Martins' Meadows were cut on a Monday , then turned three times (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) to dry and make the hay and then on Friday it was all hands on deck - rowing up, baling and carting the hay to get it all safely stored in the barn at Foxburrow Farm. This process is of course delayed if there is any rain. We all spent the week with our fingers crossed that it stayed fine and looking anxiously up at any looming cloud.
This year, I was given a lesson in turning the hay and was very pleased to spend two afternoons driving the tractor up and down with the 'Hay Zip' (Turner or Tedder) which fluffs up and dries the hay. The picture on the right shows a 'Turner's eye view'.
The 'Hay Zip' is also used for rowing up the hay in preparation for the baler. A clever alteration of the tines from turning to rowing position, leaves the hay in rows that the baler can then go up and down.
By using a hay sledge behind the baler, bales are delivered on to the field in groups of eight which can then be collected by the bale grab and loaded on to a trailer. The picture below shows rowing up and the hay baler and sledge in action.
Hay cutting machinery is notoriously sensitive and many things can go wrong along the way so it is really satisfying when things go to plan and we end up with a sweetly- scented hay stack in the barn.
I am extremely grateful to all those who help make the hay cuts on the meadows happen each year. Tasks range from everything from servicing the machinery, getting machinery to site, operating and mending the machinery, making sure the barn is swept out and clean for receiving the hay, knowing how to build a hay stack and unloading the bales. Invariably, the weather is sunny and warm, making the whole process a hot and generally sweaty experience and a far cry from 'one man went to mow, went to mow a meadow' - it takes a few more than that! - So a big thank you to you all.