Yesterday we went on a little adventure. Be it not overwhelmingly exciting it was a fun and educational outing. Our one local tractor dealership put on a demonstration of all of their dry forage making equipment. We were able to watch a field of hay go from standing to baled and ready to feed, all in a few hours.
I must admit I’m not much of a tractor person. I would rather be with the cows, hands down. But my dad and husband were excited to go watch the “toys” in action. I have decided something. Farm kids play with farm sets and toy tractors. When they grow up they like to play just as much, but with the “real deal”.
We all hopped in our cars after finishing the morning milking and drove to a branch of the Ohio State University that is nearby. It’s where I spent my college days and is a large source of the help on our farm. The hay day was taking place in a large field behind the horse farm. On our trek to the field, we found some minor and adorable distractions.
Now somehow we missed the first step of processing dry hay and that’s the mowing. I have a feeling they may have been mowing the hay while we were mildly distracted. But for those of you who have not seen hay being mown before, here’s a picture I found on line.
After the hay is mowed, it must dry before being baled. Wet hay is not a good thing. When stored inside it heats up and can actually spontaneously catch on fire. Fire in a barn is bad, very bad. So hay must be dried thoroughly. One of the first steps in doing this is to use a hay tedder. A tedder is a piece of equipment that simply flails the cut hay everywhere. I’m not exaggerating, it really flings the stuff. This ensures air is able to get around the hay to dry it out. After it has dried, the hay must again be raked in to neat windrows for the baler to pass over it.
Before you bale your hay, you must check for moisture and to see if it needs more drying time.
Now in reality this hay was full of moisture from being on the ground for all of an hour before it was baled. It generally takes a good hot day or two to dry out a field to bale. When baling there are two different types of balers. You can either make large round bales or square bales. Square bales can be small or large. They did not demonstrate a small square baler.
They also demonstrated a large square baler.
It was a very educational day, even topped off with a hot dog lunch! After lunch the tribe started to fade and we spent quite a bit of time under a large shade tree. Some of us really enjoyed ourselves hanging out in the shade.