King Solomon once wrote; “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest…”, and last week was our time to harvest hay up here at Timber Butte. From the early hours of the morning until late into the night all of our neighbors have been out in their fields trying to get their hay mowed, raked, baled and undercover before it gets rained on and ruined. Everyone has been working. Like King Solomon said, timing is everything, and sometimes when the time is right you have to work until you feel like dropping.
Because we all dry-land farm our hay crops up here we only can get one cutting a season and so when conditions are just right everyone starts their tractors and the harvest race begins. Our race isn’t between each other, but against the elements of nature. The moisture content of hay is crucial for the optimal nautical value of alfalfa and grass hay. In the case of alfalfa the plants must be at least 60% in bloom and the air must be dry. Normally our harvest starts sometime in mid June, but this year the rains continued to fall all month pushing things back a few weeks into July. A lot of farmers in the valleys below who get more than one cutting attempted to bale their first crop too soon and the heavy June rains saturated their cut hay before they could get it under cover. Moisture causes hay to mold and become not only unusable for healthy feed, but in danger of building up dangerous combustible heat, especially if it is stacked in barns. Numbers of barns in southern Idaho have burned down this past month which is of course a great tragedy.
Last week everything seemed perfect and so Nancy and I took a week’s vacation and with the help of a few wonderful friends managed to put up 350 perfect bales (approximately nine tons) of grass / alfalfa hay in our barn and hay shed. It was an exciting, exhausting, victorious week that I will write about in the coming days ahead.