Midwest Farmers Are Making Hay
Chances are if you took a road trip this past weekend you drove by a fresh cut hayfield. If you were lucky, the wind was out of the right direction on your drive-by and you were able to get a whiff of one of the most wonderful scents known to mankind. Fresh cut alfalfa kicks off a wonderful smell and there is a lot of it being readied for livestock now!
I grew up on a farm near Kennebec, South Dakota. My forage memories revolved around haystacks and square bales. Yep, the ones you made sure you were wearing jeans, a long-sleeve shirt, and gloves when you were handling. We didn't have to go to the gym, summertime provided plenty of workouts!
Technology has changed everything. Even bales. Technology has made life easier for producers. Big round bales are pretty much the norm around these parts now. The field we checked out had just been cut for the second time. Two windows had been raked into a single windrow ready for tractor and machinery to roll it up into a tight round bale that could be stored for future feeding during cold weather.
I was on a ride-along with Dan Soulek who farms near Armour, South Dakota this past weekend. Dan had mentioned that they had .15 of rain on the alfalfa a couple of days prior and he was anxious to get a 'weather window' to open up to get the project finished. Once it's down on the ground, Dan said farmers have their eye on the clock, the thermometer, the humidity, and the future forecast. When it's dry enough, you clear your schedule and bale it as soon as possible.
Dan also mentioned that as the day closes down and the humidity picks back up, you can even see the difference in the shape of the bale. Drier product, rounder bales. Wetter hay or those baled at the end of the day take on a bit flatter look on the bottom of the bale.
I asked how fast you can go when baling, and he said 7-8 mph is about the norm. I asked how do you know when to stop. He said the technology onboard does that for you. All you do is drive! Next time you're at the gym, but the treadmill on 8 mph and you get an idea of how fast they're going!
There are so many things city folks drive by during the summer months and don't have a clue of what's going on. As a city dweller, it's our responsibility to ask when we don't know something. If you have a farmer friend, just ask. They like showing you what they do when they hit the field on a hot summer afternoon.
Thank you for sharing this story with your farmer and non-farmer friends! If you have an idea for a story, you can email me anytime. firstname.lastname@example.org.