Friday, September 26, 2014

Haying in Fields of the Past

  So, I just spent one the most magical, wonderful evenings I have spent in a long time. I finally got to go haying with my father and siblings. Mom hurt her arm playing softball this year (we play ball with friends every other Wednesday evening in the summer/early autumn) so she opted to stay home rather than re-injure herself.

      As you can see in the above picture, we were haying for an Amish neighbor of ours and his hay-baler is horse powered, of course. It was fun to watch it scoop up the hay, pump it through the mechanism and spit a square bale out the back, twine and everything. I still don't know how it manages it.

    Here's what the field looks like once it's all baled -- just waiting for an eager mob to descend and gather the bales up.

    Of course my family and I weren't alone in this adventure. We were joined by our good friends that I've mentioned before in my Christmas Caroling Post, my Splitting Wood & Building Men Post, and my Our First Hay-Day Post. They always seem to show up when there's work to do and they make the job go twice as fast and be twice as fun.
    They, all of them, are a hardworking, home schooled, morally clean, good Latter Day Saint family and we are so glad they are our friends!

Sitting & waiting for the baler to finished baling the field.

    We fed the horses our apple cores and bits of grass from the field. It was absolutely the neatest thing to be working alongside horses -- counting on a living breathing thing to do the work we couldn't do. Maybe I've just read Misty of Chincoteague, King of the Wind, Black Beauty & Smoky the Cow Horse too many times, but horses have always made me feel nostalgic. Tonight they made made the whole evening feel like a step into the past.

Heading into the field to begin work. 

    Pictured here is the second field that we baled and loaded into the wagons. The first one was smaller, but we used a tractor instead of the horses because the hills were just too steep. 
    On our last load, we were all sitting atop the bales when the tractor started to turn downhill. The bales began to shift and so did everyone else. I knew I was going to end up falling before it actually happened. I don't know if I actually fell or if I jumped. In any case, there was a bunch of screaming, as then I hit my head hard on the ground. I saw bodies and bales falling all around me. The tractor stopped before anyone was run over, but a few people were hurt and a lot of the children were scared. The worst casualty was a bitten lip and a scraped back.

BUT, after the initial scare, we all agreed that that was the best part of the night.

Hay-Bale Backpacks! Not the most comfortable kind :)

    So our job was to carried the bales to the wagon as it passed up and down the rows. We knew we were going fast enough if the wagon never had to stop. It was hard work. I could lift a bale by myself, but after the stacks got too high I could lift if high enough so me and my sister were a team. 
    They hay stuck to all of our clothes, scratched up our forearms and ankles (well mine anyway since my skirt didn't reach the ground), and got in your hair. But oh what fun it was to be a part of a team like this one. We were all excited to be there and eager to help each other out and just plain happy.

    I don't know how many bales we loaded up tonight, but we filled three wagons like this. Two for this field and one for the first field. At the end, both of the wagon-backs started to break (you can see in the above picture how the right side is cracking and bend weird). Maybe we didn't stack the bales correctly, maybe the wagons were just due for a hammer and nails already, but in any case we were just glad that they made it back to the barn.

    Back at the barn, we used a gas-powered conveyer belt to send the bales one-by-one up the the loft. The barn was an old barn with a HUGE loft and there sure was a lot of hay stacked inside.

    I didn't get a picture of the loft, but the belt goes up pretty high to reach it. I decided to test myself and climb the belt all the way to the top. I made it, but at the end I was twenty / twenty-five feet up on a wiggly conveyor belt and had to jump over a gap into the hay. I did it! But it took some mind work to make it happen.

    Anyway, what a fun night! When we were finished we went and had pizza, noodles, and ice cream at our Amish neighbor's house with our friends. How could you end an already beautiful night more beautifully?

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