One of the jobs on the farm that is my responsibility is raking hay. Raking is the second step in the hay making process. The farmer does the mowing of the grass, I rake, then we hire someone with a baler to come in and bale. My tractor for raking is the John Deere 3020. Raking hay flips the grass rows over to aid in the drying of the grass and makes two or more rows of mowed grass into one and easier for the baler to pick it up and bale it. The process of making hay takes several days and in those several days you hope for no rain. If your grass is not dry when you bale, there can be trouble. Like a compost pile, water aids in the decomposition of the compost material. In a hay bale, water will help the decomposition process and start to heat up the bale. Many farmers have lost hay bales to a hay fire. It’s very important there is no moisture in your grass.
This year we sold all of our hay to a local dairy. We had so much hay last year that we still have almost a shed full. I use our hay not only for my animals but also for my garden see my post Garden Install and Mulch. This hay is the basis for my gardening efforts. It will add organic matter to my soil over the years as it decomposes, it will save me many many hours of weeding as a garden mulch, also in the event of a dry year it will hold moisture in my soil for my veggies.
Then the bales are taken where they will be out of the elements until they are used.
That is a basics of making hay. There is a lot of weather watching before and during the whole process. With a little bit of luck, and a lot of work, you are rewarded with a great hay crop.
The Farm Wife