Saturday, July 31, 2021

Putting Up Hay

The first cut of hay is often available in late May or early June, and it arrives about the time we are mearly out from the what was put in late last fall. This year, with near drought conditions through the spring, the first delivery from a local pasture came in early July. 

Most of the hay comes as bales, cut, baled, and delivered in a wagon. It is then put in the hayloft above the barn with a conveyor. For our herd of 7 goats, we will need nearly 300 bales of hay for the year.

Much to Bev's amusement, Steve has taken up hand catting some of the hay with a scythe, the "old-fashioned way." Portions of the field are cut in the morning and the hay left to dry in the sun for the rest of the day or two, depending on the weather. At some point, the hay piles are turned over with a wooden hay rake. Once dried, it is raked onto a tarp, and dragged to the barn where it is stored in a spare stall, or hauled up to the loft for further drying and storage. At one time, this must have been a full time occupation for livestock farmers! Thankfully, it's just a past time for those of us needing to burn a few extra calories!

Man pulling tarp with cut hay and a wooden hay rake

As you can see from the video below, the baled hay, and the conveyor gets the job done more quickly, but Steve is convinced the goats prefer his hand cut, "gourmet" hay better!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Barn Acrobats


Every spring the barn swallows arrive, often it is two pair, and this year it was three. Two had nests in the barn, and this nest was in the outside overhang. Once the chicks hatch the parents are constantly flying in and out from dawn until dusk feeding their chicks with insects they seem to catch in mid-air.

When Homey the cat ventures out, especially when the chicks approach their first flight, the parents often dive-bomb the cat, dropping out of the sky straight for him, only to pull up inches above his head. This high-stakes game goes on through the summer months.

This year, the chicks took their first flights July 6, gathering at one point on the fence, out of the cat's reach, appearing exhausted. By the following day they have taken their practice to the nearby trees, returning only at night to the nest. By week's end the abandoned the nest, and seemed to be taking excursions further afield, to return as acrobats flying circles around and through the barn.

Some years, this year included a pair will have a second nest of chicks, but most often, they leave by mid-July and we eagerly await they return again the following spring, and wonder if these are the parents returning, or their offspring who return for generations to the same barn at Alewive Pond Farm?