How to unload Ninety bales of hay before Breakfast

1. Know when you are at your best. And my best is before breakfast. I don’t  know what it is about me but the moment I eat I want to have a wee lie down, (though I am never able to have that wee lie down) so I never eat breakfast until the heavy work is done. And I always work best at dawn. So dawn is when I decided to unload the last of the hay.  There was rain gathering too. Rain looking down on your lovely dry bales is quite an incentive.abc-001

2. Faced with a big job, when you only have two skinny arms to work with and would really rather be up in the bucket of the tractor looking at the view,  break your job down into little groups so as to avoid the WHAT? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING! Gag reflex. Take out a corner at a time. Finish it then go to the next corner.

abc-003 So I climb to the top of the hay stack still waiting for me on the hay rack and throw down a line of bales to be carried in.  Never ever doubt that you can carry all these bales of hay down from the trailer they are stacked on into the barn and up again into the new stacks. If one tiny bit of ‘I can’t ‘ creeps in you are doomed.  ‘I can’t’ makes you feel like you are slogging uphill.  You CAN do it. Now stop your whining and get on with it.

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3. Do not wish for all the fancy gadgets other farmers have to bring their hay in, like that escalator thing. People with the escalator thingy do not get the pleasure of using every muscle in their bodies to climb up and down the stacks, heft the bale into their bellies using their considerable spider sized arm muscles. They do not get to bounce the bale up off the knee and onto the top of another stack, then do it again up the staircase of hay bales you have made so you can get right to the top. Then throw the bale even further up seeing it hit nice and square.

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4. If you can easily stack five high. Go to six. Then seriously think about seven bales high. And if you go seven you will find yourself so close to the loft that you can just hurl a few up there for good measure. Just because you bloody well can.  (Later we will get out the iron grabby thing and winch each bale one by one right into the loft. But that is a two man job for another day. I cannot hoist bales up on a winch like that. On more than one occasion I tried to pull bales up to the loft by myself with that thing and only swung out across the chasm like Tarzan swinging on a rope, bicycling my legs in mid air and the bale does not move an inch off the ground.  No, that job is for today with Our John doing the lifting and me attaching the grapple) Yesterday I needed to get the bales in out of the weather. One thing at a time you see.

5. If you get a light bale smile right out loud and climb with it right to the top of the stacks. Because the next one may be heavy. Light bales are like a little gift. abc-014

6. Know where you are taking the bale before you carry it in. I know this sounds simple but a hesitation toting a 50 pound bale is not funny! There is a lot of swing and balance in carrying a bale of hay. Confidence is your own ability  and direction is a huge bonus.

7. Some friends may only be able to lend moral support and that is all the help you are going to get so be grateful. abc-012

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8. And while we are on the subject. Take no notice of dogs checking their wrists wondering where breakfast is.  The pile of hay is slowly going down. A little hunger never hurt anyone.abc-035

9.  Cross hatch the bales for strength (and good shading) . You remember those lego houses. If you pile bales one on top of the other without cross hatching, the pile will fall. And you will fall and roosters will laugh!  ( Ha ha ha ha – like that!) Though they will be polite enough to make sure you cannot see them tittering behind their hands that are wings.abc-023

10 My Dad never said’girls can do anything.’ He said ‘You can do anything.’ And so I can. It took me just over an hour to haul 90 bales into the barn. I did not hurry and I did not stop to rest. Thankfully they were not too heavy and it was not too hot but nevertheless I was pleased. Nothing can take from you that feeling of a job well done, after challenging oneself to a lone race and winning.

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We need four hundred bales in the barn this year. We are hoping for another cut of hay in about five weeks. We need a little rain now. This stand is old enough to deal with four cuts if we get the rain.  Losing the first cut was a terrible blow but we are going to buy a hundred bales of hay to make up for it. I think we are half way to our goal.

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Have a lovely day.

Good morning. We did get a little rain yesterday, just enough to settle the dust.  And today looks fine and warm. Today we will deliver the hay rack back to the Hay Man and then start to raise the bales into the loft of the barn.  Amongst other jobs of course. Our John has the day off. And I have decided to raise a flock of real pasture raised chickens for the families freezers over the next three months. This will be a new venture for me. More on that tomorrow.

Have a lovely day.

Your friend, celi

55 thoughts

  1. Lookit you go! So good to know all the bales are under cover, and nothing got wet and wasted…our farmers would love to get 4 cuttings, but we only manage three in good years.
    Have a good rest-of-the-weekend, Honey!

  2. so good that you got them into a dry place! i would have helped you if i lived closer! i’ve stacked a lot of hay bales in my lifetime! and the dogs are so good at observing!

  3. Well done you! You certainly earned a hearty breakfast. After a meal, blood rushes to your digestive system, to get that newly digested fuel to where it’s needed. Hence, less blood elsewhere so you feel a bit dopey! Well done you! You certainly earned a hearty breakfast. After a meal, blood rushes to your digestive system, to get that newly digested fuel to where it’s needed. Hence, less blood elsewhere so you feel a bit dopey!
    We’ve been flat out here and I’ve had a major catch-up today with life on your farmy. Two things: I thought that a major reason for GM was to make crops resistant to various pests and diseases – and they STILL need spraying?!! Secondly, that is one wise old dog there, great for a wise-looking portrait maybe!
    Enjoy your day with John and the hay!
    Christine

    • I believe the major reason (and by that I mean what most companies actually put their money into) for GM crops is to make them resistant to pesticides and herbicides so they can spray MORE. Then the weeds slowly become more resistant and you can pour more and more chemicals on the ground feeding the company back your money. Chemical fertilizers do the same thing (feed the plants while depleting natural nutrients by increasing the acidity of the soil so you have to pour more on every year until your topsoil literally blows away.) Never listen to all those things the big companies tout about GMs; they’re lies.

      • I think that you’re probably right. Thankfully, GM is not such an issue in the UK. I feel sorry for people in the U.S.A. who are trying to produce natural food whilst surrounded by such vile chemicals and twisted genes.
        Christine

  4. Well done, Celi.
    I firmly believe a woman can do anything she wants to, she just has to have the desire (to).

    I always did my best physical work before eating too. Even today, I falter and feel like a snooze after eating, so prefer to do a long walk on an empty stomach.

  5. Well done you for moving that mountain! Will you be keeping the chickens in a chicken tractor on the pasture? Hope you get a wee rest after getting the hay into the loft today :) Laura

    • I am hoping that a friend can make me a tractor I can pull across the field with my mower. (we will go halvies on the chickens too) We are designing it now. It will not be elaborate but hopefully it will do the trick. It is so expensive to buy a good well raised chicken that I seldom eat chicken, I am looking forward to this new venture! c

    • When I had to buy hay at the end of last winter i bought a load from a mans FIFTH cutting. It was gorgeous hay. Of course I am going to need it to rain and warm up to even get three cuts off it. c

  6. Good job with the hay you must feel so satisfied if not a little stiff. I would like to raise meat birds but the the regulations here in NSW make it difficult. There is no abattoir to take your animals to and you can only slaughter on farm for meat you eat at home, you are not even allowed to give it away let alone sell it. There is no inbetween such as the on farm processing systems that I have seen in the US. I hope things are easier for you and I look forward to seeing how this new venture progresses.

  7. I am amazed…. One tiny lady can do so much! Let’s face you you are a tiny lady not a beefy muscle bound specimen and yet you can do the work that many men would shy away from…you must be so proud and I bet your Father would be as well…..
    Absolutely brilliant writing…you make 90 bales of hay sound so interesting… love you Celi!

    • I am not as small as i was though! But in the summer we farm girls get very fit. Mostly it is about pacing and thinking about what you are doing so that it does not hurt your body. Sometimes my back goes bad so I am a sensible lifter.. c

  8. Wow! Well done, Celi! Great wor, and doesn’t that hay look fresh and ready, stacked up like that. I love the thought of the dogs checking their wristwatches. Macaulay does that, too.

  9. Thank you! I was grumbling to myself this morning about moving 40 bales. Now, after reading your post, I’m more than ready! We just cut our second… such satisfaction. Have a great rest of the day.

    • The bales I will be buying will be 3.50. Pure second cut alfalfa.. That is an average price. but things grow much easier here once they get going. No need to irrigate fields ever, so it is much cheaper to grow. How many cuts do you get a season?.. c

      • Three cuttings are the normal. We must irrigate before they shut our water off in October so September is the end. As you well know, alfalfa should not go into winter dry, although it has a nice large tap root.

        Linda

  10. Your stone mason friend in South Carolina likes this post very much. Learning to stop feeling sorry for yourself on difficult/boring tasks is a hard and oh-so-important lesson to learn. The sooner you just get on with it, the sooner it is done! So well done, you!

  11. I worked on a horse farm for a few years. The barn was big enough for a whole semi-tractor-trailer to pull inside. Our hay guy was a wiry man in his at least mid-sixties. Me and my boss would stand up in the loft and the auld fella would stand on the back of the hay pile and throw the bales up to us. The two of us could hardly keep up with him! I also learned quite quickly that gloves and jeans were definitely required – gloves for the twine and jeans for that knee-manoeuvre you mentioned! None of us were under 30, but we could unload a whole flatbed in short time.

  12. get you girlfriend! I know exactly what you mean about doing stuff after eating impossible – this for me includes skiing – I find I’m literally unable to move, even downhill and with gravity on my side :)
    the shot of the gloves is stunning. and my favourite today

  13. You are an astonishing person, Celi. When I told my husband what you did today, he said why didn’t you go down there and help her. And I said, Yeah, I should have. Then I thought. About fifteen years ago, I was still able, barely, to carry my crippled dog Emily who weighed 42 pounds. Today, I can no longer purchase Tidy Cat 40 lb-ers; have to go with the 20 lbs. Getting long in the tooth!
    Your photo essay was just spectacular– a short story with drama, conflict–two sleepyheads– an arc, a resolution, the whole ball of wax, as they say. The gloves–inspiring.

  14. As I am reading this, your voice in my head is out of breath. Your demonstration of the roosters laughing at you made me laugh, too. Good job with the hay!

  15. It’s a wonderful feeling to have hay in your barn and wood in your woodshed. We trade our tillable 10 acre field for hay but the bales we get come in at 400# ea. Hard to find fifty pounders around here anymore, too labor intensive I guess. BTW, whenever I whined to my mom as a kid that ‘I can’t do that’ she very succinctly told me that can’t means you don’t WANT to.

  16. I can just imagine how sore you were and how good you felt!! I had a wonderful father too: quite an achiever himself he was totally a feminist – his favourite saying: ‘Women can do anything men do and oft do it better and more’ [babies, I presume :) !]. I think he had me going to Medical School ere I was weaned :D ! And that is a wee bit before your time . . . . Still remember and smile with gratitude . . .

  17. Oh, I’m looking forward to seeing how you raise those chickens! And kudos on moving all that hay. My father would not let me drive until I could prove to him that I could change a tire by myself. He said flat tires don’t automatically reinflate just because you’re a girl, and since we lived out in the country he did not want me stranded along the road. Then he taught me to stand on the lug wrench and bounce to loosen the lug nuts. A seeminly impossible task became do-able! It was a valuable lesson that has served me time and again over the years.

  18. I am seeing you as an ant, resolutely going back and forth to store your morsels of food in your larder. I spent some time once watching an ant haul a dead moth, many times its size, across the living room. (Unfortunately, ants in the living room are an annual nuisance, they wriggle in over the threshold.)

  19. Yes, a woman can do everything she sets her mind to, but it never does any harm to have a bit of help! All those folk you help and feed and love – where were they? In a village in Warwickshire where I lived for 15 years, rain would threaten the hay and the entire able-bodied female and child population would turn up to help tote bales – and the most modern bit of equipment was a pitchfork!

    I pray you get just the right amount of rain for a couple more cuts! We had too much rain in one go yesterday, (the first for weeks) and it washed our lane down the hill.

    Enjoy a little well-earned rest today (Sunday).

  20. Congratulations on a fantastic achievement. I too have often had to perform big physical tasks and I do just what you did: break it into small bits, keep my focus, choose the early morning. I am full of admiration. Well done!

  21. Celi, you’ve made me tired just reading about it! Good pep talk though: “Don’t even think ‘I can’t.’” This too shall be filed away for the future. Thank you!

  22. That is truly a testament to your commitment to the farmie! I love physical labour that has every muscle screaming the next day; it makes me feel alive. My parents were wonderfully supportive too, it makes an enormousness difference in what you expect of yourself.

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