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Date:11/23/2014 6:44:45 PM
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Making Hay, Part I
Having never taken an Agriculture course, I won't pretend to educate anyone about hay making. I can only tell you about my own limited experience. Hay is simply grass and other suitable plants cut and dried in order to be stored for use as fodder (and bedding) over the winter. Grasses, like Timothy, orchard grass, and rye grass or even wild grasses are suitable. Legumes, such as alfalfa and clovers, have even more nutrient content, and are preferred over grasses alone.

Hay is a part of every Countryman's and woman's life experience on the farm. Just a few weeks ago my Ma, in the clutches of late stage Alzheimer's, was watching "Jeopardy" with me as I made my nightly visit at her nursing home. The clue was the photo of the fuzzy head of a legume grass and Alex Trebek stated, "This legume was named for its proponent's first name." Ma probably didn't catch Alex's words but when she saw the photo, she immediately said, "Timothy!"

It was Timothy Hansen who lent his name to it. I now quote Wikipedia: "Timothy-grass was unintentionally introduced to North America by early settlers, and was first described in 1711 by John Hurd from plants growing in New Hampshire. Hurd named the grass "hurd grass" but a farmer named Timothy Hanson began to promote cultivation of it as a hay about 1720, and the grass has been known by its present name since then. Timothy has now become naturalized throughout most of the US and Canada." Leave it to farmers to be familiar enough to name an important crop after a fellow farmer's first name!

Up to the time of Ma's childhood, hay was stacked in the field or stored loose in the upper loft of barns. In her time the art of "topping a stack" in order to shed rain involved an experienced and skilled farmer. Such a haystack could withstand a winter of weather until it was moved in to feed livestock. Outside of the Amish, I don't know of anyone who could "top a stack" nowadays. The year when we made our own giant haystack for the pigs next to the barn in 1970 we covered it with a tarp. The photo I've posted is of our hay field with the original smaller stacks. Later that year Eldest Brother David led us in putting each stack onto the hay wagon and we slowly built the big one. The second photo is of Ma standing in front of the hay wagon. More about hay next time. --Gary
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