Hay season. One of most looked forward to, stressful, glad when it’s over, “fun” times of year that farmers all over the world get to experience. For farmers, it is also a very crucial time of year. For those not involved in agriculture, it is a time of year that is often misunderstood.
Here’s the ironic fact of hay season: Farmers really look forward to it. They know its importance and know it has to be done. However, things happen. It gets tense. Relationships are tested. Inappropriate words are sometimes said. Objects are thrown in anger. But despite the hardships that are likely to be faced, farmers find a way to get it done and feel a sense of relief/pride when they can officially say, “we are finished.”
So why is hay season so important? Why are so many emotions involved? What exactly is the big deal?
Here is 16 RaNdOM facts that will either A) make you smile and nod your head in approval; or B) realize just why hay season is, let’s just say, so great.
Hay Season: What the Hay?!?!
1. For as much stress as hay season causes, farmers truly look forward to it. I mean, who would not want to spend endless hours in a tractor humming over fields. Plus, there is something about just sitting in a tractor where you can get away from it all for a bit. (That is, until something quits working.)
2. Yes, hay season is usually at time that many look forward to. But, on the opposite side of the spectrum, it does bring the “best” out in people. You see, when equipment is involved, something is going to break or not work. It is inevitable. And trust me, there is nothing more frustrating than having equipment that does not work when you have acres, upon acres of hay to put up.
3. Hay season is emotional. It’s more like an emotional roller coaster, actually. Excitement, stress, joy, anger. You name it. You feel anticipation when hay season begins, frustration when things do not go as planned and relief when it is over and a variance of emotions in between.
4. Farmers spend endless hours getting hay mowed, raked, baled, (in some cases wrapped) and hauled in. When I say hours, I mean hours. Then factor all the time it takes getting equipment prepared. It is definitely very time consuming, yet very worth it. (You will see why in a minute)
5. Hay season reinforces the importance of teamwork. It requires effort from more than one person. From the mechanics who work on the equipment to get it running properly, to those who are responsible for mowing, raking, wrapping and baling and then to those hay hauling crews who bring the finished product in – hay season makes you work together even though there are times you want to strangle each other.
6. During this time of year, less time is spent resting. The time it takes to bring in a hay crop is excessive and usually entails early mornings and late nights. Lack of sleep may lead to grumpiness so it is advised not to take anything personal ;-)
7. It definitely tests relationships whether it be parents/children, siblings, couples, friends, etc. When things are not going right, there is a lack of sleep and you are racing to get the job done, things can get pretty tense. But on the other hand, it does lead to some bonding time in some cases where some of the best memories are made with those you are closest to.
8. Hay season is fully dependent on the weather. When it is too wet, fields become flooded which affects forage growth. When it is too dry, forage growth is also impaired. With the exception of hay that is baled for silage (it can be baled with more moisture), most hay require time to dry. Dry, low-humidity, warm conditions are ideal for hay to properly cure and be in ideal shape for baling. Therefore, rain is an enemy. Sometimes, farmers will work through the night in order to get hay up before rain hits. In addition, rain means a higher risk of equipment getting stuck. Needless to say, the weather forecast becomes a farmers best friend during this time of year. And take note – do not interrupt when the weatherman is on TV and a farmer is watching it. (Thank me later :) )
9. Hay is a hefty investment. A lot of money is spent on equipment, supplies, labor and time – the most precious commodity of all. With so much money being invested, it is important for things to go as smoothly as possible. In times of drought and hay is scarce, it becomes even more expensive when hay has to be purchased from an outside source. There are several economic factors that many forget to consider.
10. So some may be wondering, what makes hay so important? The answer is quite simple. It is a very important food source for our livestock. It serves as an alternate food source during times of drought or during the winter when grass is limited. For some livestock, hay is their primary diet. The bottom line is that hay is a very crucial element in the diet of livestock, one of our own primary food sources. Farmers need it and livestock need it. Enough said.
11. There are some that make their living off of selling hay; therefore it is their livelihood. It is a profession that puts food on the table for some. Plus, these folks supply farmers and other livestock owners with this precious food source. They are important too!
12. During hay season, a farmers yard becomes a mini tractor/equipment lot. There are mowers, rakes, balers, tractors, trailers, trucks, etc. And sometimes, you will catch a farmer just standing in admiration of that equipment. (It’s okay, we have all done it.) Farmers realize how important that equipment is. Plus, there is something about this equipment that just makes us feel good.
13. Round bale vs. square bale. These are pretty self-explanatory. Bales, both square and round, can come in a variety of weights and sizes. Each farmer has their own preference of what works best for them and their operation. Random side note: bales become a popular play place for farm kids. There is nothing like climbing all over bales or running over them. And for us adults, let’s be honest, it is pretty fun to stack bales in the barn.
14. For many, hauling hay (especially square bales) is fun. I know it sounds bizarre, but seriously, hauling hay is enjoyable. Yes, it may be 90 degrees in the blazing sun, but there is just something about picking bales up in a field, loading them on a trailer and hauling it to the barn. In most cases, you haul hay with those you enjoy spending time with, so memories are definitely made. Plus, it is a GREAT workout. Farmer fitness at its best. And hay hauling serves as an additional source of income for many.
15. Even though this is irrelevant to the overall purpose of hay, hay season sure is good for the senses. We all know that there is no greater smell than that of freshly cut hay. Plus, there is something about seeing tractors in fields pulling equipment that is just neat to watch. The view of round bales dotting the countryside over rolling fields is something that really cannot be beat. I know this sounds strange, but hay season really is a beautiful time of year.
16. Finally, there is no greater feeling for a farmer than seeing barns full of hay. When one can officially say, “that is it,” a farmer knows that the hours of hard work and the money spent was all worth it. The feeling of knowing your livestock will be fed and that you are prepared for those extreme weather conditions is one of the greatest feelings for a farmer.
As you can see, hay season is a very crucial and great time of year. There are several factors that influence it and there are a lot of things at stake. It is a very crucial aspect of every livestock farming operation.
I hope that this has brought some amusement in the lives of farmers and some reiteration of how important this season is. Plus, I hope this has allowed you to go down memory lane to some of the stories you have of your haying experience. For those who were unfamiliar with hay, I hope this has been informative. I also hope it will serve as an eye-opener to respect that hay equipment that may be causing slow-downs on the road. Hay is definitely important that really impacts all of us when you really think about it. As always, remember to thank a farmer. Farmers, thanks for all you do.
God Bless You All!
Until next time…