Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Black Hay

There's nothing better than smelling fresh cut hay and imagining a barn full of it. There is nothing worse than days of rain falling on fresh cut hay and turning it black with mold. It's enough to make you cry. Your neighbor too. She could smell that hay all the way up at her barn. I think I hear her crying now.

We've only tried for a second cutting of hay once before and, while it was hard to dry with the heavy dew of autumn, we got it in and were in love with our hay well into the winter. This year seemed auspicious. The year was late for hay but all the forecasters promised a late, dry fall, because we were owed a late, dry fall. What did they know?

Farmer Jones spent the summer irrigating day in and day out. When he couldn't do it he trained our buffed up high school neighbor to move the pipe and set the valves. The hay looked good but not that high when our farmer neighbor with the haying equipment stopped by. Did we want to cut yet? Was he going to? No, he wanted to wait a little for a taller grass. So did we. The forecasters had said it was going to be a late, dry fall.

Okay, so it wasn't. The first cut of hay is now all we have going into winter. I look at it this way. The horses and sheep don't know what they are missing because nothing was ever brought in. I hope that the wonderful hay sitting on the ground re-seeds the soil and we get another chance at two cuts next summer. Of course, it means more irrigation and no promises.

Next summer we won't be greedy. We will cut when the sky is still blue and the days are lengthening but not stormy. Unless, of course, the forecasters tell us it will be a late,dry fall. And we forget what we learned. And we smell that wonderful green hay and imagine what it would be like if it were just a few inches taller.

Photo: Irrigating the hay field one 20' pipe at a time. There are 16 to reach across the entire 8 acres. Farmer Jones moves them once a day.

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