A Cowboy’s Faith: Make easy hay in sunshine

buchmanhead“Putting up hay is simply a piece of cake.”

This time of year, we just can’t help but reflect how easy harvesting hay is compared to former times.

Originally, it was all with horse drawn equipment – first mowing the grass, drying time, accumulating the hay with a dump rake, loading on a trailer with a pitchfork by hand, hauling to a central location, and stacking in a haystack, to be loaded back on the trailer for livestock at feeding time.

Although we never harvested hay with horse teams, we did some limited pitchfork stacking hay. Like many things, there’s a skill to it learned by doing over time, and we’re thankful we never did enough to become accomplished at the task.

Stationary balers were used by some farmers to bale hay in earlier times, too. It was extremely laborious as well, with dump rake and hand pitchfork still demanded in order to get the hay into the baler, and likewise hand work to store the wire-tied bales.

When Dad bought a John Deere small square baler, we really came up in the world. But, there wasn’t a hay rack, so every bale dropped on the ground. It was our job to load them on the pickup and haul 36 bales at a time to be stored.

While that was more than four decades ago, it was still hard labor, or we thought so, after working all day, to be welcomed home by a field of bales waiting to be picked up. It doesn’t sound like much now, but we felt real accomplishment after storing 100 bales in the barn a day.

When big round balers were introduced, we were one of the first to hire our hay put up by that method, and most of the hay now is rolled in big bales by a custom operator.

However, we still have a small square baler the ranch manager knows how and seems to like to operate when it works right. So, a thousand small square bales are capably stored in the barn with a mechanical accumulator by our son. No work at all, comparatively.

Reminds us of Proverbs 10:5: “Make hay while the sun shines, that’s smart; go fishing during harvest, that’s stupid.” Fortunately, First Corinthians 12:31: “There is a better way by far.”


Frank_BuchmanFrank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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