With loads of help from family and friends, we got the hay baled and under cover before the storms on Sunday evening. It all started with mowing on Wednesday and Thursday. The 4-foot high grass comes up to Fabian’s chin!
We used our haybine a month ago to take off a small first cutting, but this time we’re harvesting 60 acres. Most of it is for Ryan’s large square bales, but we made small bales from about 3 acres. Many thanks to Ryan for letting us use his discbine. His machine got the entire job done in about 7 hours--probably a quarter of the time ours would have taken.
Next, a couple days of drying so the hay doesn’t rot after it’s baled and possibly start a fire in the barn. We calculated the moisture of the grass following the directions on the Penn State web site: extension.psu.edu/pubs/i-106
On Friday and Saturday, we used Ryan’s rake for his portion and our small rake for ours. On Sunday, the hay was down to 15-20% moisture--good to go. But storms were predicted for Sunday afternoon, so now the pressure was on to rake it one more time, get it baled and into the hay shed before the rain . Every time we bale hay, we have to race against time to beat the rain--it’s harder than you might think to have a five-day stretch of dry weather exactly when the hay is ready to be cut! We are definitely going to use a tedder for the next cutting so we can dry it quickly and get it done in a much shorter window of time--2 to 3 days instead of 5 or 6.
We crossed our fingers hoping there wouldn’t be major mechanical problems and got started around 11:00. The baler broke down due to a chain coming off its gear, but after Keith and Aaron figured out what happened, it was a pretty easy fix.
Above, you can see the top of the chain is routed under the idler, but the manual shows how the bottom loop of chain is supposed to go over the idler. Other than that, all systems were go and we had a successful day. And for the first time since we’ve had the New Holland 311, our bales were shaped correctly, with tight strings and well-formed flakes inside. Keith did lots of work over the past month to correct issues we’ve had with this baler since we got it: misshapen bales, sloppy strings incorrectly placed, and untied twine which caused loose grass instead of formed bales to spew out of the kicker. Each cutting left us with a mess that we couldn’t stack more than 3 or 4 rows high. There were lots of little missing and broken parts and bad adjustments throughout, but after three years of making hay, I think most of the wrinkles have been ironed out. Yeah!!!!!
Here's a link to Aaron's video from the hay wagon as the bales get kicked out of the baler to him. When he's on-task (ie, not taking videos!), he never misses a bale.
More pretty hay pictures:
More pretty hay pictures: