Baling The Hay
The whole cycle of growing crops includes the use of sheep to eat the stubble and, in doing so, fertilise the land at the same time with their droppings. The same principle is used to fertilise the land on which hay will be harvested later on in the year. Not only hay gets harvested for animal fodder, but also alfalfa and plants of the pea family.
When the hay has grown long enough to be harvested, it is cut down to lie in the field to dry so that it can be baled. If the weather has been rainy the hay may be turned over to speed up the drying process.
When the right time has come the hay will be baled into rounds or squares with the aid of a baling machine. In order to transport these to the place of storage, bale trailers are used. The hay will be stored for the winter to feed cattle in the winter months.
Harvesting hay depends entirely on the right time in which to do it. The farmer will have to watch the weather in the summer months very carefully. If it rains then the hay will be ruined and lose much of its nutritional value. The hay must be baled before it becomes too brittle and lose all its leaves. The typical moisture content should be twenty per cent. This is gauged with the use of a moisture reader which s inserted into the ground.
The shape of the finished bales, whether rectangular or round, does not matter as either method is every bit as good. However, round bales are easier to come by and they also shed water more easily when they are left to the elements. These rounds are also cheaper to produce.
A thought must be given to the farmers of even fifty years ago, that had to harvest their crops with the aid of a great deal of manual labour. The crop was all cut by hand and heaped on to carts. This caused a lot of loss and spillage of this valuable food for the animals. The hay was cut by a scythe in those days. This required teams of men to go up and down the fields and was very labour intensive. It was not until the nineteen thirties that a hay making machine came on the market.
After the hay was cut it had to be raked by hand in big lines. It was then left to dry on ricks which looked like haystacks. When the crop was dry it was then heaped on wagons by means of a pitch fork. It was then taken to a storage area by cart. This area was always raised to keep the crop dry whilst it was being stored.