Our Rural Roots

Hay Day Reaps Rewards

As blogger Meredith Bernard's number of horses expanded, so did the need for more horse-quality hay. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Meredith Bernard)

The seemingly endless heat of our swampy Southern summer has finally begun to give way to the cool undertones of fall. I'm relishing the change more than usual this year, and one day stands out.

Last winter, we accumulated (that's code for went into debt) five more horses. Those five horses have brought more value to our lives in the past year than any other debt (that's code for I wouldn't change a thing).

Along with those horses came the need for more horse-quality hay than we had at our disposal. It would be a very long winter trying to find horse hay to buy and enough of our own cow hay to unroll that would fit the bill.

Enter this past summer day when we brought an old relic to life with the hopes of making life easier. Oh, the irony.

"Back in the day," my husband put up many a hay loft full of square bales. But large round bales that get hauled by a tractor became our preferred gathering method years ago. As it turned out, the 60-year-old square baler had just been sleeping for the past 20 years, and it was going to be an "easy fix" to get her going -- which is farmer slang for, "This will be the hottest, hardest day of your life." And, so it was.

She had myriad baling pains and didn't want to tie, but after hours of work and worry, we limped through a field of hay that we put in storage, which should be a gracious plenty to get us through winter.

At the end of the day, smiles were hard to come by. But, today and for many tomorrows, those frowns will be turned upside down as we reap the rewards of not giving up on an old relic -- or ourselves.

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Meredith Bernard writes, tends to farm and family, and sometimes makes hay from North Carolina. Follow her on social media @thisfarmwife, and visit her website at https://thisfarmwife.com/…