I am posting this without many photos, more will appear a little later this morning. Another very busy week. This week it was haying. We buy our winter supply of hay for our two horses, our 10 cattle, some 20 sheep, one donkey and one goat from our neighbours who are about 3/4 miles east on Robinson Road. The hay field is right adjacent to the Grand River and is a nice, sort of remote spot from whose lower location and with the screening from all the trees along the field edge, seems far away from everything. The feeling is helped by the Red tailed Hawks that seem to frequent this field, and by the occasional deer wandering through. On one occasion this week while we were loading hay, two Osprey together glided slowly, only about 100 feet overhead making their unusual short screeching sounds.
The hay had been cut on the 17th and raked a few days later into windrows for the baler which came on Friday. The baler, worked by another more distant neighbour, made up 38 of the large round bales and on Saturday the 22nd we began drawing them back to our barn. The total distance from field to barn is about one and a quarter to one and a half miles which is another set of numbers when speaking kilometres. It is a lot of long uphill and two or three short distances that are quite steep. There are two short distances of downhill and a third, short, downhill that is quite steep. The uphills are a slog for the horses these days; there was a time when we could run them at a rapid trot for some while with 4 bales on the wagon, a total load plus wagon weight of around 4000 pounds or about 800 kilograms. Now they are older and all that we ask of them is to pull the wagon at a walk, sometimes fast, most times slow, with three bales max. The downhills are the worst I think since the horses would rather run down. There are no brakes on the wagon, the horses provide all the braking through the britchen harness and the neckyoke on the wagon pole, but ultimately through their hooves digging into the ground. We hold them back but they still do go down quite rapidly and I’m always worried about something breaking or a horse stumbling, which they do on occasion. Stumbles have always been minor with very quick recovery, no one has ever gone down, but is still no fun. Aerron drives and on the uphills and the steep downhills I will often get off and walk as a token weight reduction. I feel a little guilty making them haul me too. The driver should remain on the wagon though so as to have full control and to be better able to see all round what may be happening. The round trip, barn to field and back to barn takes about an hour or a bit less. We load the bales in the field using the neighbours tractor which has a front mounted loader. At the barn we push the bales off the end of the wagon on to the barn floor and manoeuvre them into position rolling them by hand. We made a total of 13 trips over the 4 consecutive days and had only a very light and insignificant sprinkling of rain one time.
The mow can hold 32 bales so we took apart 6 of them and pitched the hay on top of the bales in the mow. More work but better than storing them outside under a tarp. We are hoping to bring in a second cut of maybe 20 more bales at a minimum so as to have just over 60 to see us through the winter. We would also like to get a small quantity of some very good alfalfa hay for when we need to have someone get a little more protein. This next lot of hay is going to have to go on top of what is now in so it would be best to have it in the form of small squares.
With haying done we can once more concentrate fully on the garden. We still have a lot of transplanting to do and there is also the hoeing of all those persistent weeds. A lot of down on hands and knees hand weeding is also required for some areas. Aerron will use the team to till with the single row horse cultivator and this makes things a lot faster and easier but a lot of the garden is now too tight to get the horses in without doing too much damage to plants. The potatoes have also required a lot of attention and they didn’t get it fully ’til yesterday. The potato beetle and it’s larva are coming out in large numbers and will have to be handpicked relentlessly for the next several days. The predator population is also building rapidly so very soon we can just leave it in their capable mandibles.
We will be starting the CSA on Thursday, July 4, or if we can a day or two sooner as we now have enough ready. Not a lot, less than what we would have hoped for but it will get better.