Sunday, June 20, 2010
Summer on the Farm
The farmer that cuts our hay has been busy. First he cut and baled half of the area that we cut, about 15 acres all together. Then he cut and baled the last half. He does this in case he gets a huge rainstorm, you might still save half of the crop. He came on Saturday afternoon to pick up his large round bales and one of his tractors. We were going to start putting our share in the barn, but it was so hot, we decided to wait until Sunday. I had looked at the weather report on Friday and it looked like the weekend would be clear, with thunderstorms forecast for Monday through Thursday. I learned a lesson about checking the weather every day when you are a farmer. In California, the weather was only important to us if it meant we couldn't eat outside or go to the beach. Now it can ruin a crop.
Saturday about 8:30 pm I heard some thunder off in the distance. Lee and I raced to the fields to gather the bales. Even though Aubrey makes smaller bales for us, they still weigh hundreds of pounds. We can load them on the front loader of Lee's tractor. They are too big to fit in the front loader, so Lee runs up to a bale. I push it onto the front loader and then we have a hay hook that we run through a chain. The chain is wrapped around part of the front loader. I hold everything in place while Lee raises and tips the front loader. It is important not to lift it very high. Lee's sister knows a man that lifted a bale too high and It rolled back to the driver's seat and crushed him. Not a good way to go. Because he doesn't lift the hay up very high. I have to walk off to the side so he can see me and not run me over. This would probably kill me and he would have a hard time explaining to the local police that it really WAS an accident! They always look at the husband, you know!
We got about 6 bales in the barn and the thunder kept getting closer. Tara called from about 10 miles away and she had been forced off the road, along with a lot of other travellers on the interstate, by rain blowing sideways and lightning that lit up the sky. She was waiting until the weather cleared before she headed home. By this time the lightning was so close that there was barely a delay from the lightning to the thunder, so we parked the tractor in the barn and raced up the hill to the house. Losing a years worth of hay was not worth our lives!
The rain came but it didn't last too long as the storm was heading to the east and we didn't get too wet. This afternoon Tara and I checked the bales still in the field. The were dry on the top, but wet where they lay on the ground. The bales we took in last night were a bit damp from laying in the grass, so Tara and I rolled them damp side up. We figured they can dry off and then tomorrow we can put them in the barn. We'll have to keep a close eye on them. Bad hay can kill a horse. A cow has multiple stomachs and can eat hay that horse owners have to throw away.
We lost some hay last year when it mildewed on the bottom, so we are going to place some concrete blocks on their sides and try to roll the bales up on them for better air circulation. There are blocks left over from another project we had going and so now there is another use for them. We have learned that farmers never through anything out!
We still have some hay stored in our barn from our second cutting last year. It was such a wet year that there was never a good window of opportunity for Aubrey to cut it when it was best, so he cut a bit later and the horses don't care for it. They pick through it and leave most of it. While the woody stuff is not appealing to horses, cows can eat that and the mildewed stuff and do OK. So we are hoping Aubrey comes back and gets it. He can have all of it, just get it out of our barn. Even with losing the whole second cutting and some of the first to mildew, we are just now on our last bale from the first cutting last year. This leads me to believe that we could get some more horses in here for boarding and not have to buy much in the way of hay. We still supplement it for the nutrients that we can't provide, but a boarding business is something I want to pursue.
Now, for our other crop. The small vegetable garden has really been producing. Last week Lee and I had zucchini and yellow squash sauteed with onions and we sliced some chicken sausage with mozzarella and garlic into the pan. Then add the thinly sliced basil. We had that over rice. It was so good. I bought some sandwich rolls to have with that again this next week.
We also have a bunch of green tomatoes. I kept looking for red ones and today we found a small red one and a large orange one. I picked a bunch of green ones and will make fried green tomatoes tomorrow. We found some normal sized zucchini and two BIG ones, so I may cut those up and bread them with seasoned cornmeal and fry them up with the tomatoes! My brother Roland, lives in Alexandria and Tara is staying with them, so I sent up a bunch of produce, including some basil and mint. Why the mint is for the mojitos that you eat while the tomatoes are cooking, of course!