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High Times on Hay Fields
By Maddy Butcher
All around the northern hemisphere, farmers are putting away a gazillion bales of hay for the winter.
In Maine, we’re getting glorious payback for last summer’s horrendous season. That's when we saw one lousy cut, caught in between the exasperating, everlasting days of rain.
Read more about it here.
This year, most Maine farmers will harvest two or three cuts, bringing supply up and prices slightly down.
Haying is a happy time, once again.
My folks have fond memories of haying season in their home states of Michigan and Ohio. By age 10, they were learning to drive farm trucks on the fields and backroads. They hung out under the tanning sun with siblings and cousins. It was busy, tiring, and fun. It was family and community coming together.
On fields around me, families and friends are still rounded up to get it all done.
The whole Bailey gang was on the field when I picked up a hundred bales in Pennellville. recently.
Steve Bailey runs a small beef operation in Durham. He and his wife have three children of their own and another two they adopted when his sister passed away a few years ago.
From age 6 to 15, they all pull their weight.
The older boys, Kaleb and David, load hay and are learning to drive the tractor. Sister Jamie can swing the bales mightily, too. The younger
ones, Kohen and Karleigh, drive the truck and trailer as hay is loaded from the field and otherwise do whatever they can.
It was another family affair
on a field in Pownal, where the Burnhams cut 800 bales last week and I swung by to pick up another 100 bales.
Donald Burnham, 78, has been farming for decades.
He beamed when he yelled to me from his tractor,
“Your horses are going to get fat on this!”
His son, Rob, and nephew Nick Harriman stacked bales seven-high onto the hay wagon. They’re young and strong. When they joke around, they start throwing bales at each other as if they were beach balls.
Combined, these families will put up well over 20,000 bales combined.
Meanwhile, I got 200 into my barn.
On the field, my mom drove the truck. Friends
helped packed my truck and stock trailer. For the offloading, though, I was on my own.
My three big, strong, and helpful teenage sons were all away at summer jobs. I missed them dearly.
That’s ok. Nothing a good radio station and cold beer couldn’t solve.
It’s haying season, after all. And it was only 200 bales.
View Reader Comments:
Being a former Michigan girl transplanted with 4 Michigan horses and a rescue from here I can related to those wonderful days spent with my family during haying season as a child. My family owned a small hereford cow/calf farm and were Arabian breeders I can't even tell you how many bales of hay we did each summer because you never asked if we were done yet until fall came. I learned to drive the tractor before I was old enough to stand on the clutch and shift at the same time. My dad would have to do that for me. Driving the truck across the field was the best when you had to stand up to see over the steering wheel. Those were the days. Most the my hay is in the barn with the plan for one last load of 2nd cut this year when I finish up last years, what a treat for my crew. I love to drive across in land Maine and smell that fresh cut hay. It brings back great childhood memories of my dearly missing dad.
This reminds me of my time on our farm in Illinois when we baled hay every summer. It was wonderful, a lot of fun, and a lot of work! When we had lunch for the guys in the afternoon around 4 pm, the homemade tea and bologna sandwiches always tasted EXTRA good!
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