Sunday, September 27, 2009

Here we go again...

Summer has wound down, against my will. I even became a morning person this summer, hoping to get some extra credit, but no--the evenings are creeping in earlier and earlier. I think I wore socks to bed last night--that's a sure sign.

We had several weeks of dry, beautiful weather, that provided a glorious ending to my first summer as a hay maven. What is a hay maven, you may wonder? It is an extremely stressful position wherein you have access to a wonderful field of hay, thus providing winter fodder for your large lawn ornaments.

The trick is, you own no hay equipment. So, you have to find someone who will bale a small field--which is a detriment, the smallness. So you have to find someone who is willing to come to your little field to cut the hay, rake the hay and bale the hay, while the sun shines. And it will never be a set-in-stone appointed date because the ultimate decider of hay cutting, is Mother Nature! (Cue lightning.)

I began my summer as a hay maven with high hopes and my eternally willing-to-learn attitude. When I requested the option on said field, I was planning on splitting the spoils with my neighbor/friends Rob and Chris, who had hay equipment. When I got the option on the field, I found out that Rob and Chris had sold their hay equipment. Oops.

So, the learning process began. The first hay guy (not really sure of the correct title here), wanted $3.25/bale, laying in the field (this means I have to do the labor of picking up the bales and loading them on a trailer), OR he wanted 2/3 of the hay and no charge per bale. That seemed kinda high for me, so I approached my local feed store owner, (not the chain store). The local store owner also happened to have two ladies selling horse feed standing there when I came in. They all gave their opinions, agreeing with me that that was too high of a price and encouraging me to ask for a better deal. They said surely he would be willing to work with me on this...

I made Handyman make the call to the Hay Guy and request a deal change. I am such a weenie. The call lasts all of twenty seconds and Handyman reports that the guy said he wasn't interested in either splitting it 60/40 or 50/50 and there was no offer to change the price. Deal's off. Back to square one...

So, my stomach produces large quantities of acid and I start looking up weather predicting websites. I called a local farm co-op, in the smallest town nearby and asked for a referral for a "hay guy". The first name they gave me, I called. He seemed nice enough and seemed knowledgeable, and told me that at some point, I'd be mad at him. That's just how hay goes. I told him we were hardworking, honest people who just didn't want to be taken advantage of. He told me to watch for the bloom on my alfalfa and call him when I wanted him to cut it.

Then the roller coaster left the building. That was in early June. About the second week of June the alfalfa started blooming and I became a weather aficionado. I stayed up late to watch the weather every night and it rained, regularly. There was a name for this particular type of weather. I think it is "monsoon".

June started tapering off, the hay was as tall as an elephant's eye and still the rain would not stop. There was a four-day window of sunshine coming and the Hay Guy asked if I wanted him to cut it. I checked all twelve weather websites and they said it was going to rain on Thursday night. So on a very sunny Monday, I told him no, don't cut. It's going to rain on Thursday night.

On Tuesday, it was beautiful. But the weather man, woman and websites said it was going to rain on Thursday night. On Wednesday, it was warm and sunny, but the weather divas all warned of the rain on Thursday night.

Teachable moment: Once the hay is cut, it lays in the field for several days to dry, depending on the weather. It cannot be baled when wet or it will mold and all your money will end up on the burn pile, literally. We were having really cool nights in June, so our mornings had really heavy dew, which means more days to dry. More moisture means nutrition is leached out of the hay each time it is damp and then dries.

On Thursday night, I watched the late news and they said it was going to rain, THAT night. It did not.

My stomach began this little motion not unlike my washer on the spin cycle. It was now Friday and the weatherman said it was going to rain on Sunday. So I told the Hay Guy, don't cut it today either, because it's going to rain on Sunday.

Saturday was picture-perfect, but I knew it was going to rain on Sunday night.
I watched the news on Sunday, and they said it was going to rain that night. It did not.

By now, I was hyperventilating. The hay was almost taller than me. Everyone who lived nearby commented on "how tall the hay is". I demonstrated for my children, how you can keep yourself from smacking people when you really, really want to.

On Monday, I told the Hay Guy to cut it--I can't take it anymore. But, he can't. Seems he was cutting someone else's field, next to an area of home building and someone had thrown a 6x6 post into the hay field early in the year. He hit it with his mower and it would take two days to repair. He'd try to get to my on Wednesday.

On Wednesday his son had a motorcycle accident and broke his collarbone. (Dumb kid! What's he thinking?? Doesn't he know what I've got on the line?!) So his biggest helper is out of the picture. He'll try to get to me on Friday.

On Friday, he cuts the hay! It is an amazing, wonderful feeling. I want to run through the field, in slow motion of course, leaping and smiling. The day is July 3. The hay coulda/shoulda been cut weeks before, but we were 8 inches over in precip for the month of June!! On Saturday, the fourth of July, it rains for the entire day.

My hay, stemmy and long, is lying in the field for about 8 straight hours of steady downpour. I am lying facedown on my bed, muttering. There is nothing I can do...

No comments: