Make Hay While The Sun Shines….


Once again it is that season to bale waterways, ditches and grass hay in general. I know it is that time when the temps soar into the 90’s and the air is so thick and muggy you feel like you could swim through it.

I knew this time was coming…..but I think in my head I kept thinking that maybe, just maybe it would not happen. A very distant hope, but a hope, none the less.

To understand my feelings on baling you need to realize that I did not grow up on a farm. I grew up in a small town and had cousins who lived on farms. When we went to the farm we had fun.  We played on the sack swing, played kick the can, played with the chicks (this may have triggered my love for chickens), and once in a while we decided we should try to ride a pig……because that is what you do as a kid in a rural area when you are done with your chores.

The closest I got to farm work growing up were the summers spent walking beans and detasseling corn.  These occupations in no way prepared me for baling or tractor driving.

When I married my farmer we decided we should milk cows. I found out quickly that milking cows involved more than milking twice a day.  There was the gutter to be cleaned every day, feed to be ground, bulk tanks to be washed, and baling. Pretty much everything you did, all day, every season revolved around cows.

Those first summers that my husband requested I drive the tractor for baling are etched firmly in my mind. As a gal who had never driven a clutch it was quite an experience for me and probably more for my husband as he attempted to remain upright on the hay rack as I would put that tractor into gear.  I must confess I had him on his knees several times……I am quite sure he was not praying…..but then again maybe he was! If not, he probably should have been.

Quite often my dad in law would show up as we were baling and ask if I wanted him to drive.  You have never seen a woman get off a tractor so fast! Now that he is going to be 87 I don’t think he is going to show up to rescue me anymore.

There came a time when we had to decide to get big or get out of the dairy business and we chose out. That ended my time of driving a tractor for baling.  I thought this was forever but nope.

Last year my husband decided that, once again, we should take up the fine art of small square baling. As he purchased a disk mower, rake, and baler I was really wondering if this was such a good idea for a couple who was a lot closer to 60 than we liked to think.

Once again I am learning how NOT to pop a clutch, how to decipher what all those hand motions mean (no, he is not just waving with joy at me all the time), how to make the turns and how to follow the long row of raked grass without leaving too much on the ground.

I am learning  slooooowwwwwllly. Yes very slowly. I am getting better (that might just be in my own head). I still do not like driving on a slant.  One half of my brain knows that I will not tip the tractor over on this gentle incline but the other half persist in arguing that the ground in not level. I pray against fear on that one. My husband keeps assuring me it will be fine but the one half of my brain, again, is not convinced. Maybe next year?

I keep telling my husband that a utility tractor would be a good investment if he is going to persist in this baling thing. I just know I would feel safer if I were driving a tractor that was lower to the ground and much “squattier”. Once again…..maybe next year??

Every so often I take a turn on the rack when the ground gets steeper than I like or the turns get way to tight in the back corners of the waterway.  My husband is very gracious with my stacking of bales.  To be very honest…….. My stacking skills suck. (please forgive the language–I have raised three sons—-on a farm).

I will have to say there is a satisfaction in seeing the bales, stacked neatly in a haymow. I have a feeling that for my husband, it is the same feeling I get when I see my pantry full of  canning jars that are full of produce.

I think my husband loves baling because it brings back his teenage years.  He spent many hours throwing bales for various farmers who needed extra help. He worked for the grand wage of $1.75 an hour.

I am starting to think I may have to find one of those teenage boys who want to throw bales.  That way my husband could do the driving……I am seeing a win-win situation here.

“Only a farmer
knows the difference between
5 MPH and 5.5 MPH”

“Farming is a profession of hope”
Brian Brett



23 thoughts on “Make Hay While The Sun Shines….

  1. chicken46 says:

    You tell a story so well. It sounds like terribly hard work though, especially in such heat. I agree with getting the youth in. You can then ‘pass on your experience and knowledge’ (as in make out you are doing it for their education)!! Supervising from a porch or deck, with a nice cold glass of something, would be entirely appropriate!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda K says:

    Don’t hold your breath on getting to go to the house with a teenage boy helping….then it is “so much nicer having 2 on the rack” I had to laugh when you talked about learning the hand signals. I so vividly remember my first time driving….those signals were so confusing. However, at one point I was going to turn without turning off the baler. Both Merlyn and Jim raised both hands and said “NOOOOO!!!!” That signal I could understand😝

    Liked by 1 person

  3. marijo1245 says:

    Oh the joys of being the farmer’s wife…helper…right hand…outside chores by day, inside chores by night. God bless you!

    I think I would be fearful as heck on an incline as well! All in a day’s work I suppose!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In The Autumn Of My Life says:

    ‘It’s a whole different world out there!’ was my first thought. Funny how each of us lives such different lives. I live in a town but would prefer the country. My grandparents worked the land for many years (for other people as well as their own soil) and I would have been quite happy following their example. My path was a different one though. As I sit writing this comment with traffic in the background and noisy people arguing I wonder what it would be like to live on a farm in the midst of nature, tired at the end of the day but satisfied with it besides. I could take some of that!

    Don’t misunderstand, I am quite happy with my life but for a moment there I put myself into your world and realised I could be quite happy there too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • thechickengrandma says:

      It really is neat the way there are so many different environments and each one has something amazing about it. And each one probably has a downside as well. I have sons that live in cities, large cities, I love to go visit them and enjoy the things a city has to offer – museums, malls cool parks etc……but I am always very happy to get back home.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. helbergfarmstories says:

    Teen age boys – huh! We (my 2 sisters and I) were moving bales back in the 60’s when we were kids – LOL!! Stupid me kept “throwing” them (yep – idiot me) when I was in my 40’s and this is part of the reason for the reverse full shoulder replacement – ya gotta laugh at this – sad but too true. Was so proud of my strength as a girl growing up, now it is biting me back – ha ha ha…thanx again for a great story and bringin back some fantastic memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. helbergfarmstories says:

    Oh, and the slant thingy – you can tell your husband ” yes, they do tip over” and it is the womans smarter brain that is telling her “this is not right” – CUZ ITS NOT! LMAO…my male cousin did take a hill too far and flipped the tractor with a plow attached – he jumped out of the way and was safe – couldn’t say the same for the tractor n plow – boo hoo (many years ago too).

    Liked by 1 person

    • thechickengrandma says:

      We did get it baled and managed to stay upright :). I remember years ago my brother in law flipped the tractor when he was packing the silage pile by our place. He did get pinned under but turned out okay. He later said he was to close to the edge cause he wasn’t paying attention.

      Liked by 1 person

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