It`s a proverb that means take àdvantage of the opportunity when it arises`. But it is also literally true - farmers need to get their hay harvested while the sun shines at this time of year. We`re now into day 8 of sunny and reasonably warm weather, and the farmers have been busy!
The landscape is dotted with big round hay bales, the first major harvest of the year. It`s just one of those iconic things about `seasons in the valley` around here.
It starts out with the farmer cutting the hay, and then raking it into swaths, fluffing it up a bit to dry out. You can imagine the farmer checking the maturity of the crop with one eye, and checking the weather forecast with the other eye, to judge when to cut it. He wants a couple of days of sun to get it cut, let it dry, and bale it before it rains.
Today I saw these two farmers baling hay as fast as they could go. Haying is usually a two or three person job to get it done efficiently.
One farmer is gathering in the bales and loading them on a big double wagon; here the last bale goes on.
The other is pulling the big round baler down one of the last swaths of hay.
Reaching the end, he turns around and heads back. Meanwhile the other farmer has hitched up to the wagons and is headed out of the field.
I knew what was coming, so I waited to see the baler stop and discharge a big round bale. Then it carried on. Meanwhile, the other tractor and wagons was coming straight toward me as I was parked on the lane into the field. I waved and drove on, glad to see this little vignette of the hay harvest (and not have to do any of the work myself)!
This vignette shows a totally different way of harvesting a forage crop. We saw these two tractors pulling big wagons and the harvester working a field considerably south of the valley as we returned from Kitchener the other day.
The harvester is picking up the hay from the swath, chopping it, and blowing it into the deep wagon. This will be stored in a silo or big silage bag rather than baled.
The wagon looked about full to me, and sure enough the first tractor pulled away, and the second pulled up beside the harvester. It`s a totally coordinated operation!
The first tractor is headed back to unload.
And the harvester and second tractor-wagon combo continues down the field. Since I drove by this field two days earlier, I know it`s not a conventional hay field, it was a field of spring grains, probably oats and barley, being harvested before it was mature as grain, as forage for cattle next winter. It provides a more nutritious forage, and is probably destined for dairy cattle. I`m learning quite a lot as I chase pictures of crops this year!