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Slow Quilting on the Farm

IMG_5400Not much piecing or hand work happened here on the farm last week. The sun finally showed up and it was hay making time. We made some nice hay and we have half a field yet to be mowed and then baled.

IMG_5396IIMG_5405 prepped the rest of the bottom border triangles for my Jane quilt. It rained this morning so I was able to piece 3 more triangles.

IMG_5401I’ve enjoyed quiltingIMG_5403 my little quilt projects, in fact the red and black quilt is finished and I just need to quilt 1 more row on the cheddar quilt. While I was quilting the red and black, I saw that I had one block turned wrong. No matter how hard I look things over, it seems I always have a block turned wrong! Oh well, she’s quilted now! I was asked the size of the quilts. The red/black is 21″ x 30″ (53 1/2 cm x 76 cm) and the cheddar is 25″ x 30″ (63 1/2 cm x 76 cm). I think anyway. I was measuring them in the quilting frame and I had rolled once. I’ll let you know for sure when I sew the binding.

I also managed to completely weed the garden last week. IMG_5398The green beans I’m growing on the fencing hoop are growing well and climbing. Unfortunately my tomato plants were destroyed by a groundhog. I pulled out what was left of the plants and put the cages and stakes away until next year. I don’t know if the plants would have grown out of the set back but they probably wouldn’t have yielded tomatoes until frost time. Fortunately my neighbors have a produce stand just down the road. I usually buy produce there that I don’t raise.

IMG_5393The first picking of IMG_5394green beans yielded a good peck. Plenty for eating fresh and some to put in the freezer. I always add onions to  green beans when I cook them. I also harvested the first of the broccoli. This 5 gallon pail was full of broccoli heads and there will be more to harvest this week. The garlic is ready to be pulled too.

I’d like to finish the Jane quilt top but it sure is nice to work outside again and feel the sun. It has been beautiful; low humidity and high temps in the 70’s. There was no hay making today since it rained but the Farmer is going to mow the last of the hay down tomorrow. Hopefully it will be baled before the next rain comes at the end of the week.

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Unloading the Hay Wagons

We use a hay elevator to unload the hay wagons.

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I place the bales on the chute. The chute has sides which straightens the bale and correctly places it on the chain. If it isn’t placed correctly, the chain comes off the track and that is a nuisance. (That is Taryn in the window)

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The chain has teeth which catch the bale and pulls it up to the hay mow where the farmer stacks the hay.

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This hay mow is full! It will be used to feed heifers this winter.

IMG_4418An inside view of the haymow.

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Baling Hay

The same day we finished planting the corn and beans, we also baled hay. (It was a long day.)

You mow hay with a haybine.

IMG_4173I thought I had another picture of the haybine from the side, but I can’t find it now. Anyway, see those metal wire sticking up on the top? Those are prongs attached to the reel.

IMG_4227The reel turns and the prongs “comb” the hay upright so it can be cut by the knives. (No picture of the knives.) Then the hay goes through the two black rollers which crush the stems. Crushing the stems helps release the moisture so the hay dries thoroughly.

The hay comes out the back of the haybine. We are able to change the width of the hay that comes out. Remember, when we wet baled, we made windrows? We want to dry bale this hay, so we set it to lay flat.

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There is a little space in between these rows, but not like the windrows.

We let the hay dry for several days, then we rake it. This turns the hay over so the bottom is on the top. It usually needs more drying.

IMG_4171After the hay is dry, we bale it. The hay feeds into the baler and the auger rolls the hay into the chute.

IMG_4188The arm pulls it into the chute. When the arm is up, there is a plunger (inside the baler) that packs the hay into a bale.

IMG_4194Yes, the baler gets very dusty and dirty from years of use. The baler has a space for bales of twine. The twine feeds off the twine bales and run through the baler.  There are two “knotting gears” that automatically tie the knots on the bales. The hay keeps feeding into the baler and formed into bales. The bales push each other up the chute . . .

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And the farmer stacks them on the wagon . . .

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And keeps stacking until the wagon is full.

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We filled the 3 wagons, unloaded 1 and refilled that one. We have the full wagons in the shed until we have time to unload them. Here’s a picture of one of the wagons in the shed.

IMG_4200There are 150 bales of hay on that wagon. We baled all the hay we had down but there is more hay in the field to be mowed. The forecast is  calling for rain, so baling is on hold for now.

Baling Hay While the Sun Shines

We baled hay on Memorial Day. Here is a play by-play of the process.

Saturday, May 24, 7am . . . This is the same alfalfa field I showed you several weeks ago. We’ve gotten several warm rains and the alfalfa is more than knee-high by now. Soon the sun will be brighter and burn off the haze and dew.IMG_4107I can’t believe it, I forgot to take a picture of the haybine mowing the hay! But don’t worry, we make hay all summer long and you will see the machinery in another post.

Saturday 6 pm . . . The hay has been cut and laid in windrows.

IMG_4110We let the hay dry in the sun on Sunday.

Monday 6:30 am . . . I’ve started raking one row of hay onto the row beside it. Heavier rows make the bales more solid and stable. The tractor and rake are old but they get the job done.

IMG_4118 The tractor is a Ford Ferguson made in the early 1940’s.

IMG_41209:30 am . . . The fields are raked, now we wait for the baler. We custom hire a baler when we “wet” bale. The hay is not completely dry, the hay on the ground side is still green and full of moisture.

10 am . . . The neighbor comes with the baler and starts baling. He straddles the windrow between the front wheels and the hay feeds into the baler . . .

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the bales come out the back . . .

IMG_4128and drop onto the ground.

IMG_412710:30 am . . . We are having 2 fields baled. The farmer and I start loading bales from the back field onto wagons and hauling them up to be wrapped.

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4:30 pm . . . All the bales have been moved and are waiting for the wrapper. The little blue things on the bales are the twine knots. The large hay wagon hold 17 of the bales, the smaller wagons hold 6 bales each. It took us 6 hours to carry all the bales into this line. We didn’t stop to eat either.

 

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This is what the field looks like with the hay off.

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8 pm . . . The wrapping machine is here. The farmer puts the bales on the wrapper; the machine wraps the bales in plastic and lays them in a row.

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10 pm . . . The bales are all wrapped. The farmer comes into the house, showers, eats his supper and then watches the Pacers vs the Heat while eating his nightly bowl of ice cream.

10:30 pm . . . It starts to rain, watering the fields that were baled. The alfalfa starts growing. In a month we’ll do this all over again.

Tuesday, May 27, 7 am . . . This is 26 acres of hay, 188 wrapped bales.

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We will let the bales set for several weeks. The hay will ferment and turn into baylage. In 2 weeks we will start feeding this hay to the cows. They are grazing grass pasture now and the hay will supplement the pasture. They eat approximately a bale a day so this should last into September.

We have a third field of hay that we did not wet bale. We plan to dry bale the 3rd field but that will be more of a challenge. That will be a post for another day.