While this is not the best quality image I ever took it does tell a story. If there is any activity that is a part of Dobyville history it is getting up hay. This is my dad on the left and my cousin Arnold on the right raking and baling hay. As you can see these were the old “square” bales that I did not enjoy picking up. I have to say this was probably my least favorite job on the farm. The one good thing I can say about getting up hay is that there is no better feeling shower than the one you take after getting out of the hay field!
Getting up hay was usually a twice a year task, usually around Memorial day and Labor day. While most of our of our hay was grass we would occasionally sew some soybeans or other grain. Once we planted a field of oats that turned out to be quite an experience. I will explain more about that in a minute.
The first step in getting up hay was watching the weather forecast. You needed 3 or 4 days of sunny weather in order for the hay to dry once it is cut. Modern mowers also break up the stems of the hay that allow it to dry a little faster but we alway started looking at the sky after grass was cut to see if any thunderstorms were brewing.
Once the hay is dry it must then be raked and baled to be put in storage. Storing the bales was the “fun” part of the process. The bales were heavy and the weather was always hot! This was especially true of the oats that I mentioned earlier. My dad was well known for wanting the hay to be baled very tight. This helped to ensure the bales would not come apart but it also made them heavier. Also, oats were heavier than grass or soybeans. And of course it was in the upper nineties when we got the oats up and since it was a small field daddy decided the two of us could take care of it. Although there were only about 2 loads of the oats I honestly believe I was the tiredest that night I had ever been.
Another important part of hauling the hay was loading it on the trailer. usually a trailer load was around 80 to 100 bales. You could usually put the first couple of layers on the trailer from the ground; after this a person usually had to get on the stack to pack the bales in a way to make sure they would not fall off while taking them to the barn. It spite of the best efforts, part of a load would occasionally fall off. Reloading hay on a trailer was never any fun.
While it was always hot in the field at always seemed to be hotter in the barn. Fortunately we had a barn that you could drive into the loft, but there never seemed to be any air stirring in the barn. You also would stir up any dust on the hay while handling it, adding to the discomfort of the task. After finishing a load it was time to head to the shade of the old oak tree in the back yard for a break. The shade, along with any breeze stirring, was always very relaxing. A drink of water would also be helpful, as well as an occasional bottle of pop and a pack of nabs!
Oh well, so much for my short history of getting up hay. Have a great day!