It seems pretty dumb now, but when we became rural residents the possibility of actually harvesting our own hay had never even occurred to us. After all, the situation of the Homestead has us right underneath the fabled Nor’ West Arch with it’s scorching signature wind that turns paddocks into dust bowls each summer unless you big-proper-farmer irrigate and/or manage your stock in a way our fencing set-up doesn’t allow right now. “Don’t overstock or you’ll be feeding out by Christmas,” we were warned more than once by folk in the know.
But then, this hasn’t been a run-of-the-mill year weather-wise (“Don’t expect this every year,” those same folk in the know warned). The rains have continued to fall, the paddocks stayed green, and we suddenly found ourselves wading through some pretty lush looking meadowland as we went about our morning chores. The number one risk out here, the thing that has replaced tsunamis on our Be-Aware List, is fire; Long grass is pretty frowned upon in these parts and so something had to be done – but what? and how? and by whom? So, off we trotted to our local font of knowledge (Farmlands) where we were given the correct title of the service we needed (Baling Contractor) and pointed in the direction of our other font of knowledge, The Malvern News. Lately, we seem to be making a great many service decisions based on advertisement font, company logo, and the reassuring phrase, no job too small; so far, it hasn’t steered us wrong.
We were given another magic phrase, we’re on the list, by our (yes, we have one now) baling contractor which quickly calmed anyone raising an eyebrow at our overgrown paddocks. Happily, on Tuesday, our name obviously made it to the top.
No humans were home when the paddocks were cut, but the four legged Homesteaders had plenty to report on our return.
As we took a turn around the estate that night we wondered just how much hay we could expect. Fifty bales was a number we settled on, for no other reason than the cut grass looked like it could be squashed into about that many blocks. NB: The resident engineer would like it known she was not involved in this observation. A storage area was prepared; Eleanor and Froda selflessly offered to clear out the old hay. Ivy and her brother felt it was important we understood they had nothing to do with this security breach.
We then had a good few days to further debate yield as the sun was not being co-operative, but on Saturday morning a machine turned up that zoomed around the paddocks, fluffing up the grass as it went. Hmmm, we pondered out loud, that looks like a bit more than fifty but surely it packs down.
How farmy did we look when, on Sunday, the Dee elders arrived for some homegrown Homestead hospitality only moments after the tractors arrived to finish the task?
“There’s 45 bales in the sheep paddock ,” Farm Girl gleefully informed us and that all-familiar feeling of being utterly unprepared and in-the-dark once again washed over us. Later that evening, our guests safely heading back down SH 73, we started up the ute and headed out. There may have been a bit of muttering about the “miraculous timing” regarding The Farmer and Princess’s weekend away in Arthur’s Pass but that’s all in the past now.
The sun was setting as we finished clearing and packing away the front two paddocks 110 bales. We’d have smiled if our muscles weren’t so sore.
Over the next couple of days, The Goat Herd, Milk Maid and Farm Girl cleared the required storage room and stowed a few more utefuls of hay until only 54 bales remained in the back paddock. If we carried on like this, we’d have it all undercover by Friday! Except the southerly the weather gurus had been promising for the last week was due to arrive on Wednesday…
Thankfully The Farmer, with his extra height and manly muscles (yes, we are schmoosing), was available for the mad scramble required, as with our cooked-spaghetti-arms and knuckling-dragging weariness, we were not up to much in the 33 degree (Celsius) heat of the day.
Clearing the paddocks (235 bales at final count) duly celebrated
we were pulling the tarpaulin over the hastily constructed haystack when the first drops of rain fell.
We then retired upstairs to watch the southerly blow in
nursing our aches and pains (because hay is scratchy), feeling decidedly smug because, as those folk in the know stopped to advise over the last few days, “Hay is as good as money in the bank come September.”
When we work that out, we’ll let you know.