Tag Archives: Hay

230 Bales of Hay

We got a deal on hay.

In the morning we drove the truck to Wainfleet to borrow a big thrower hay wagon, so we could drive slowly to Vineland to pick up hay. It was a nice drive. It was nice to just sit and talk and sip scalding cups of coffee while the rain turned to snow.

We arrived at the hay barn and everything was very old, but well kept and neat as grandma’s kitchen. The old Dutch guy who helped us load was sturdy. His age was somewhere between sixty and seventy and he was in better shape than both Brent and I put together.

It took an hour to load the 230 bales into our wagon and we were sweaty in the cold morning, but proud as the old dutch farmer pulled the wagon out of the barn with his old massy tractor.

He asked if we were interested in a baler. Sure. Who wasn’t interested in a baler?

He took us out back to his canvas covered barn and we were shocked at all the new farming equipment. It was like a John Deere showroom. Harvesters and double rear wheeled four by four tractors. More haying equipment than I could imagine. While standing in tractor heaven I asked why he was driving the old 1950’s massy and he said “she’s my favorite.”.

Driving home with our load Brent and I scarfed back bananas, almonds and water. We discussed different lifestyles and how a dutch farmer survived all these years and raised nine kids. You don’t have to go overseas to see different cultures. Just ask a farmer.

Back at home we decided not to unload in the leanto where the hay would be used because of the mud, so we unloaded into the slightly less wet back garage. Our good friends Tim and Tanya showed up in time to unload and we owe our friends a debt of gratitude for all the free (paid in beer and food) labour. We chatted with each other, panting as we threw the bales and the boys stacked. It’s a great work out and a great way to laugh at each other. I get to throw fifty pound hay bales at my husband – there isn’t a wife alive who hasn’t had moments where they’d like to whip something at their husbands. It’s a good marriage building experience and trust exercise. No wonder farmers have such good relationships.

We finished the day with a beer and a heaping helping of gratitude. Sometimes it’s dangerous to stop by and you might be wrangled into unloading hay. Just ask Darren V about the second load of hay. He was wearing his good shoes too.

The Round Bale Beats Me

Brent’s been working and some of the chores we usually do together have landed gently in my lap. For example: I picked up three 4×6 rubber horse mats at an old farm in Dunnville and managed to get them into the leanto to keep Autumn and the goats dry. The mats are heavy and dirty, but I managed. I finally wrestled them into position, but when I went out the next day the ground water had flowed over the mats and caused a bigger mess.

I pulled up the soaked mats and raised the floor up, so the horse and goats have a comfortable and dry place to rest. Thankfully we put down clear stone in January in front of the lean to, so Autumn has a dry place to stand. Actually, I saw her laying down out there basking in the sunshine. It filled me with warmth, but that’s not part of this story.

Today my chore was to move a round bale into the horse paddock. This is normally a fairly easy job since Brent and Tim built a bale spear.

The selected round bale was sitting in the pig and chicken paddock. I thought maybe they’d have a little taste, but after a few months they haven’t touched it. We’re a little short on hay this season, so I wanted to make the most of what we had left.

I had the backhoe running and slid the bale spear into place. I checked that the pigs and chickens were inside the barn before I opened the gate and prepared to spear the bale with the backhoe. I rolled the dirty round bale in front of the gate. This was no easy chore given the round bale was wet and extra heavy.

With the gate precariously open I jumped into the running backhoe. I lowered the bucket and advanced on the round bale like a warrior from the movie 300. As I pushed the backhoe into gear and leaned forward, it died. Out of fuel.

I was unable to close the gate and could hear the pigs squealing. Running to the back of the barn I  grabbed a piece of plywood and a three foot piece of 2 x 6 to block the animals in the barn. I ignored the angry snorts and clucks as they tried to move the barricade. Once that act was done I felt a little more secure. I asked myself why I hadn’t done that before and couldn’t come up with a good answer.

The paddock gate runs perpendicular to the drive and the only way to fit the backhoe through the gate was to position it across the driveway. With the backhoe blocking the entire exit and only the F350 pick up truck to take to get fuel I felt a little stuck. Little did I know that I was about to be a lot stuck.

It had rained and then snowed. The snow gave a false sense of freezing and I realized the ground was too soft as the dual wheels of the ford dug into the mud of the front lawn. If this had been Brent I would have been really upset, but it was me, so I was just mad.

With two tires a foot deep in muddy lawn I shifted into 4×4 and got out to lock the front hubs. I’m really proud of locking the front hubs. I drove around the hoe and only managed to scratch the driver’s side with a small tree. Hopefully, Brent won’t notice.

I paid twenty bucks for barely a ten gallon container of fuel and was fuming as I drove home filled with the desperate hope that the backhoe would still start. Diesel engines don’t like being run out of fuel.

I imagined Brent slamming into the backhoe that was parked precariously across the driveway. It was very near the end of the driveway and the drive is wide and happily accepts fast moving vehicles off the eighty kilometer highway. He might not see the backhoe blocking his way in the dark.

I climbed up on the backhoe with one foot on the front tire and the other on the step into the cab I balanced the ten gallon fuel container and managed to get the nozzle into the hole marked gas. I kept thinking as I listened to the diesel fuel gurgle into the tank… is this a gas engine? No. I’m sure it’s diesel. Then why does it say gas? Eventually, I concluded that gas has fewer letters than diesel.

With one hand on the key and the other holding a can of starter fluid I turned and sprayed. After a few fitful seconds she turned over, but didn’t stay running. I jacked up the fuel intake, started spraying, prayed a little and turned the key.

She started and I nearly wept with relief. I let the backhoe run for a minute and then speared the round bale and picked it up. I backed out of the paddock and rolled down the driveway with the five hundred round bale balanced on the front bucket with a spear in it’s belly.

I stopped in front of the barn to release the angry pigs and chickens after I closed the gate. While in the barn I heard the plaintiff cries from the backhoe as she stalled and became frighteningly quiet.

I took up the familiar position with my arm through the window of the backhoe as I balanced with my left foot on the step and my right foot on the front tire as I leaned forward and sprayed starter fluid into the intake while turning the key.

She fired, choked and then started. I did a little driveway dance.

I wasn’t taking any chances as I drove full speed up the muddy hill toward the horse paddock. I didn’t stop until I ran over some rough cut 2×6’s on this side of the fence. With all the grace of a drunk teen I managed to dump the round bale into the right side of the fence. I examined my exit as I pushed the backhoe into reverse and slid back down the gentle slope until I reached level ground.

My heart beat leveled as I backed the machine behind the barn, turned the loader towards the ground and turned the key off. I didn’t look up as I made my way towards the house exhausted, wet and muddy, but proud. The ground was covered in ice that I’d walked over at least ten times, but this time my feet went out from under me and I hit the ground on my right shoulder.

I laid on the wet ice trying to determine if I’d broken anything. After a moment of hesitation I got up and figured this was one of those days when I should have just done laundry.