Making hay

Posted on August 11, 2011

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When I was a little girl we lived on my grandparents’ farm.  The barn was one of my favorite places.  Even now, when I walk into an old barn, it fills me with a sense of peace. A barn piled high with hay is full of echoes of Joseph and the ancient granaries of Egypt.  People have put food by, for ourselves and our animals, for a long, long time.  It’s fundamental.

Hay piled high inside the big red barn at Bay View Centennial Farm

It isn’t a simple matter, haying.  It calls for a lot of thought.  Experience is good, and judgment.

Bay View farmer Katy Newman confers with the experts

You can’t make hay if it’s too wet.  You can’t make hay if the alfalfa weevils have been at the field.  You can’t make hay if a lot of hoary alyssum has invaded.  And you can do everything right and still Mama Nature can visit you with a sudden hailstorm that ruins it all.  Ah well.  It is good to have experts to advise you in these matters.

Taking into account the percentage of weevil damage and the proportion of clover versus stinkin' hoary alyssum

Sometimes the best thing to be done with a particular field is to flail it down after the clover has gone to seed and before the hoary alyssum has a chance to go to seed and then start all over next year when you and the alfalfa have a fighting chance against the weevils.  And sometimes it all works out well, and the barn is filled with excellent hay against the winter.  Monty and Malika are glad of that.

Monty and Malika

Charles Goodrich wrote a wonderful poem called Evening Star that you will like if you’ve made it this far.  Garrison Keillor read it on Writer’s Almanac, and you can read the poem or listen to a podcast here.

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