Summer Ritual- Bringing in the Hay


Bringing in the hay is a summer ritual.  A ritual I have participated in, with family, every year, since I was a small child. Over time the hay fields have changed, the hay crew has changed, and my role has changed. But this ritual of high summer is the same. Fields of beautiful grass- mowed, raked into windrows, re-raked to cure, then baled with the clackity clack of balers, it is timeless. With a parade of machinery, long ribbons of bales are left twining over the fields, and hay is made.

This is the task of the local farmers we purchase hay from.  There is much checking of weather reports to find that window that is long enough to safely turn grass into hay. They spend long hours on the back of a tractor, going round and round the field, attaching the next implement to the tractor and circling the field yet again. It is not an easy task in NW Oregon to make good quality hay. The challenges are many. Many thanks to our hay farmers, Phil & Tom, for the long hot hours the put in to bring us good quality hay for our livestock. We truly appreciate you!

At our farm the loft has been cleaned and organized in preparation. The old hay conveyor has been placed at the loft door. All is ready. The phone call comes. “Hay is ready”, and we leap into action. Equipment is gathered; hay hooks, ratchet straps, coolers of water, gloves, hats, a sweat towel, are all essential to the task. The flatbed trailer is hitched to the truck & the crew of available family is assembled. We are off to the fields where hay bales, warmed by the early morning sun, await us. This is a choreographed event with each member playing an important role. The truck and trailer are driven slowly between rows of bales. From both sides a bale is picked-up, bucked onto the trailer or into the truck bed and then stacked in a pattern to make a tight load. The load steadily grows as the truck creeps along.  When the bales are stacked high, ratchet straps are placed criss-cross over the load to hold it steady as we travel home. The truck & trailer are backed-up to the barn to be off-loaded. The load is disassembled one-by-one, each bale placed on the conveyor, and with much clackity clack, lifted skyward into the mouth of the loft. The bales are once again stacked in a tight pattern, this for the final time, on pallets on the loft floor. With stacks 5 high, 10 bales to a pallet, the loft is filled with sweet smelling hay assuring that our animals will eat well over the winter. There is such great satisfaction to be found in a barn full of hay!

Bringing in the hay is a summer ritual on the farm. A ceremony, carried out in earnest each year to mark the longest days of the year and in preparation for the shortest ones.

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