Farming Memories Part 1 b
by K. Kraft
Haying, The harvesting of grass type crops. Hay is cut from mid June to July. The weather this time of year varies from "hot" to "I can't believe it's this hot!". It is cut and lies on the ground drying for the first day. Then it is raked into rows and continues to dry. Day three it is baled up and put in the barn.
If hay isn't dry enough before it is baled it can heat up and combust in the barn ( not good! ).
Many a barn has burned down due to this phenomenon.
Getting hay cut, dried, baled and into a barn without rain spoiling the process is the trick. One needs to understand the weather, to listen to the TV and radio forecasts, and sometimes to look at the sky and just decide that it looks right and then you have to go for it.
Sometimes people look at me funny when I look at the sky and forecast the weather but after twenty years on the farm, working with people that could do that sort of thing, some of it is bound to stick.
Anyway bringing in good quality hay is important for a farm because in the winter when no fresh grass is available the hay that was put in last summer has to keep livestock healthy and content for months. Feeding hay twice a day, day after day for months requires a lot of hay.
When I was a kid we had a ground drive mower, for cutting hay that was originally a horse drawn implement. Horse drawn implements have long tongues that go between the horses. To use these implements with tractors the tongues are cut off at around four feet and flat irons are bolted on the top and bottom to allow a hitch pin to connect the implement to a tractor. Refitting horse drawn implements to tractor use was quite common for a time.
Now many off these old machines sit on people's lawns surrounded by rocks and flowers. They wear a coat of black paint or maybe iron oxide. These machines have done their work and this as good a place for them as any.
Harvest, this is the time when grain crops from fields that were planted in the spring are harvested to fill granaries for feed and the stalks of the plants are dried and baled up to be used as bedding for livestock. Straw as the stalks are called are good insulation as well as being absorbent. They help keep animal's dry while sleeping.
Harvesting crops is done with large machines called combines. Before combines came along the machines for this task were the binder and the threshing machine.
Now the binder was a machine that cut the crop and assembled a bundle of the plants with all the grain bearing ends at one end and the stalks aligned together. These sheaves as they were called exited the machine and landed in a carrier.
At regular intervals when the carrier was full of sheaves it was dumped by the person riding on the binder by activating a foot pedal. This riding the binder was a less than glamorous job. I only had to do it one year.
Anyway the sheaves in these piles are stood on end with the grain end up supported by the other sheaves in the pile. They are left for a day or two to dry before being collected on a wagon hooked to said tractor and hauled to the barn where the threshing machine was.
Threshing machines were large and had flat belts on the outside that ran the different mechanisms in the machine.
A tractor outside the barn with a large pulley on the side powered the threshing machine by turning a long flat belt that was turning on a large pulley on the threshing machine. As the sheaves were fed into the thresher the grain was separated from the straw. The grain was then blown out of the machine and into the granary. ...to be continued.