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Date:12/19/2014 9:10:44 PM
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Making Hay, Part IV
I posted two photos on Facebook; one taken by my Ruthie of round hay bales in Oconto County, and another file photo showing giant rectangular bales. (This second one was taken in Perch, France, home of my Trottier ancestors) Round bales compress hay more than square bales and can be left in the fields, or stowed outdoors, especially if they are wrapped to repel moisture. Square (rectangular) bales must be stored under cover. Larger square bales, "maximizing the amount of hay which is protected from the elements" (Wikipedia) are what we are seeing more frequently here in NE Wisconsin. The advantage of small, square bales is that they can be individually handled by one person. The other advantage is that if the bale is rotting, it can be disposed of with relatively little hay loss. The disadvantage, conversely, is that it is labor intensive. A typical hay making crew of my experience is one person on the tractor, with another one on the hay wagon. Back at the barn there was one person (usually the youngest or a female) unloading the bales onto the elevator, and one (or preferably two) up in the mow. When the wagon-load of hay was unloaded, the "mow crew" then headed out to the field to exchange wagons with the baling crew. When the mow crew had to wait for the baling crew out in the field to finish their load, there was usually some good natured joshing about how slow some people worked. When the baling crew finished first; it usually meant that there was time to doze in the shade of the hay wagon until you heard the drone of the approaching smaller tractor pulling an empty wagon.

Large bales, square or rolled, meant less manpower. One person, with a baler and Bobcat, could bale and then store a day's harvest all by himself. I'm certain that it's more efficient, but I miss the haying crews; lying in the shade next to the barn while waiting for the next load of hay to be brought in from the field or lying in the shade of the hay wagon out in the field waiting for the next empty wagon to come out from the barnyard. Regardless of the size of the bales or the method of haying; it was a good feeling at this time of year to know that there was enough hay stored by to last all through the winter and well into the following spring. -- Gary
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