My first time loading round bales was definitely an experience. Three days out of college for the summer and just finished with finals, I didn’t think my brain could take any more concentrating. But during hay season anything is possible.
I started off the day by following Dad to the field on what I thought would be my designated tractor-a 6200 John Deere- for the day until I realized that I had the bale spear on. As soon as Dad slowed to a stop in the hay field, I abandoned the seat on my tractor and walked over to his. After climbing up, Dad showed me the vital parts- throttle, brakes, and then pointing to another random stick, stated “that’s a hand clutch” and jumped off the tractor and headed for his own. I just stared after him. I shoved the 630 John Deere (yes another John Deere, we are a green tractor type of family) into first and started to learn by doing. Soon I was working that hand clutch like a charm, and hauling bales fell into an easy pattern. Enter field, trade tractors and unhook trailer, follow Dad around to fill trailer, sit in the shade and wait for Dad to fill other trailer, up The Hill, wait for Dad to unload and start all over again.
Mainly a lot of waiting on my part until Dad decided it was time to add a little more to my work load.
That’s when the real experience started. Instead of trading tractors as normally planned, I was motioned back to the 6200 to load my own load of hay. This is the point in time where I wish someone had a video camera to compare the difference between Dad and I loading the bales. When Dad loaded bales, he barely slowed the tractor to pick it up before jutting off to put it smoothly on the trailer and zooming off to the next bale. (If you can zoom around on a tractor)
Meanwhile, I SLOWLY drove up to the bale, stopped, picked it up and then continued on to the trailer. After finally getting to the trailer, it was a mess of forward, backwards, up and down motions just to place the one bale on the trailer. Then the process started all over again. Needless to say, I only got to load two trailers of bales before Dad took over again so we could finish before midnight. Even though I only got to load two loads of bales, it was still a successful day in the hay field with my Dad!
Two weeks after starting, hay is finally done! This hay season was extremely hectic for my family because Bethany got selected for an international agriculture trip through I-CAL. (More information on that later!) Which just happened to fall right after her college graduation and in the middle of hay. Since we were missing a family member in our hay process, this year was a learning experience for me. My current experience in the hayfield consisted of a raking disaster and bringing water to whoever was working. I joined in the actual hay process only to put square bales on the elevator to the barn. But not this year! This year, with it being so warm earlier in the spring our hay went early and Dad had our smaller hay field cut and baled by the time, I got home from Missouri State University. Sunday, we broke the ‘day of rest’ rule and hooked up the tractors early to get all of the round bales hauled out. When the day began, I had no idea how to work the hand clutch on our 630 John Deere and I was scared of The Hill.
The Hill is the worst part of hauling hay with loose gravel covering a long steep hill on the only road to the hay barn. But by the end of the day, I was working the hand clutch like a pro and The Hill was just a measly bump in the road (not really, it still stresses me out a little).With the smaller field done, we moved right into the next field. Or should I say UP to the next field.
Our farm is full of steep rocky hillsides so not only did we have to conquer The Hill but we also had to go down another one before that. Before we could start hauling bales out, I got a lesson in raking the hay. After my fiasco of raking a couple years ago, I was not excited. Rounds later, I dropped Dad off and raking by myself ensued. I must say once I had the hang of it, I was the best hay raker around.
Not only was I raking by myself, but I had learned how to drive my Grandpa’s 444 International tractor; marking my hay education up to three different tractors. With hay season just now over, there are still more adventures to come!
Ever heard the song Harvest Time by Luke Bryan? Even though we don’t have crops, we are in the middle of hay season and this song pretty much sums it up! With cutting in the morning, raking and baling in the afternoon, and putting the dry hay away in the evening, there is barely enough time to eat and sleep much less blog. But there are a ton of picture opportunities!