Farm Journal: When your haybine plans fall flat

Raking hay with the tractor. Photo: Courtney Grimes-Sutton.

Raking hay with the tractor. Photo: Courtney Grimes-Sutton.


This is part of a series of Farm Journals, farmers writing regularly about life on the farm, week to week, through the season. Courtney Grimes-Sutton is co-owner of Mace Chasm Farms in Keeseville. Read all of Courtney's journals here.

July 14th

Past my farmerly bedtime now. This day was a wild ride. Woke to Asa’s despair at the sound of rain around 6 this morning, which was falling carelessly on the hay that lay drying in our fields. Turns out it didn’t amount to much – thank the stars. Our big field is mostly down now – a huge cut considering that we’re working with equipment we haven’t tested, a borrowed baler, one hay wagon, and just two people.

Two pieces of equipment fell through for us in the 11th hour of this hay window. A haybine that we’d locked down for purchase from a neighbor who had bought a nicer one at an auction up the road, and an old John Deere baler that another neighbor sent out for restoration, which turned out to be a dud. Neighbor #1 hooked up to his new haybine & broke it right away, so he rolled on over to our place and told us we were out of luck, that he just can’t sell the old one this morning like we’d planned. He went home and mowed his fields with it while we got on our phones to find a plan B.

“You do what ya have ta do to get your hay in,” said other neighbors about the haybine situation. It’s true – with hay, much as we all want to help one another, help & fairness come after one’s own hay is in.  (Is there an example in the entire animal kingdom that doesn’t display that rule? Actually- yes, I just realized – in parenting…) It’s neighbors who are making it possible, though – after knocking down their own hay, they’re checking in on us- Brian mowed for us, Steve is loaning us a second tractor, and Phil is loaning his baler. Amazing.

The ground is wet. I kept thinking, as I raked the hay this evening, that we shouldn’t be in there with tractors. Ruts were born that we’ll fix once the hay is in the barn. Couldn’t very well stay out of there though, the way the weather’s been. We need that nutrition put up in the barn for our animals- good first cut will be rare this year – I mean, we’re already beyond it here, really.

I was also thinking, as I raked the hay, how beautiful this place is. Sun setting behind the mountains; the trees, grasses, windrows, and ridges catching all the good, golden light – dang. Just quiets the busy mind for a while.

Spirits were a little soggy from the showers while we did our morning chores, and packed our market freezer for Asa’s send-off to farmers market. It was a prime steak & herbaceous sausage kind of a week at our market table.  Today’s market was in Keene Valley – Asa’s home town. His folks usually spend the day with him there, and he gets to see everybody in town, and he sells out of our products & goes swimming after market. A nice day off the farm. Spirits regained balance as the day dried out, and this was our best day at market yet!

I spent a long morning installing a decent water system for our mobile chicken coops, and a main line down the field that they’re in. (FYI – Agri-fit fittings and Plasson Quick Coupler hydrants are so awesome. You can hook in and out of them while there’s pressure in the line! We put them every 100’ down the fields, so water tanks can reach them from 25’ paddocks with a 50’ line)

I brought in the horses and harnessed them for cultivating. Asa took them out later in the day & experienced a minor runaway in the barnyard that busted the wheel on the cultivator & shook up the farmer.

So the grasses & weeds live on, enjoying this nice growing weather, which hurts us to behold. I steel myself when I look at the tilled fields right now. We’ll get to them, and then I’ll find satisfaction there again…

Well – eyes on the prize. I better go get some sleep for all that high heat, bale tossin’ exercise coming my way tomorrow. I love it.  Here’s hopin’. Over & out.

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