“August is a transition month, when the focus shifts from growing to harvest. We worry less about weeds now – the frost will take care of them before they go to seed – and more about getting crops in ahead of the inevitable blights and funguses that take hold as the days get shorter and the nights grow cool. We had a window of warm clear weather this week, with a heavy rain and a stretch of cool wet days predicted at the end of it. The whole crew worked long hours to bring in onions, wheat, and the precious second cut of hay.
Second cut hay – taken from the fields that have already been cut once – is the good stuff, with more leaf and less stem, more protein. It carries our grass-fed dairy cows through the winter. There is an inverse relationship between quality and quantity, and we have to strike a balance when deciding when to cut. Do we want more hay or better hay? In our climate, we usually don’t get to choose. We make hay while the sun is shining or not at all.
With a four day window, we made sixty acres of the hundred acre field on Middle Road, which is about two miles from the home farm. We put two tractors and six horses to it – the tractors for mowing and baling, the horses for tedding and raking. It would have taken too long to walk the horses to and from the field at the beginning and end of the day, so we set up a temporary pasture at Dillon and Kelly’s house, across from the hay field. I think the horses liked camping out. It was good to see diesel working in conjunction with draft horse power – and three beginning teamsters doing important work.
It was, as always, a nail biter in the end, with all eyes on the weather radar. We made 116 round bales; the last few came in a little sooner and wetter than we would have liked, ideally, but nature rarely lets us get exactly what we want…” Continue reading this Essex Farm Note.
- Essex Farm: Haymaking (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- A Local’s Look at The Dirty Life (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Essex Farm: Excellent, Considering (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Essex Farm: Hay Hay! (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Essex Farm: Beautifully Mature (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- The Dirty Life – A Barncast by The Wild Center (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)