Today a friend asked me to explain the sequence of making hay.
1. Mowing (cutting)
2. Strowing (dashing / tossing / turning the cut grass so that it doesn't lie in swathes but gets the sun and air to it).
The tractor on the right is cutting the grass with an eight disc mower. It has a cover on - it is a dangerous piece of kit. The tractor on the left is strowing. This happens as soon after cutting as possible to start the drying and curing process.
From grass to hay takes a mimimum of 3 days for hay, less for silage. It depends on the weight of crop but a good quality crop is at the mercy of the weather. Sun and a warm breeze are essential.
3. Rowing up (bringing the hay crop into rows ready for the baler). Spinning tines gather the hay and send it towards the paddle that forms it into rows
4. Baling - to make small hay bales we use a traditional baler and sled (sledge).
The wheels of the baler straddle the row. A rotating drum with tines sends the hay into the body of the baler where it is compacted into rectangles, strung and pushed out the other end.
The clickety-clack, chug-chug, thud-thud of a little baler as it goes through the process is musical to some, magical to others and emotional to many.
5. Leading in.
Whenever possible we use a tractor with the 8-grab
but when this is not practical
the bales have to be manually lifted onto a trailer, stacked and lead to the the building.
7. Storage - big round bales (silage) are wrapped and stacked outside.
Small bales have to be carefully and correctly stacked in a building or hay mew.
There is nothing more satisfying than a building stacked to the rafters with sweet nutritious hay.
Hay that will sustain our sheep
through the toughest of winters, keep their bellies full and their spirits up till the spring, new life, new growth and the close of the circle.