Since meeting my husband, becoming more exposed to farm life, and finally moving to our small farm, I have realized that there is lots that I don’t know about farming and farm equipment.
The animal stuff I’ve got a pretty good handle on. I’d better, after all my Large Animal Veterinary education! It’s the crops that are new to me.
Last month, we cut and baled hay on our farm. This goes on over a couple of days, but always is an “emergency.” Once the hay “is down” (has been cut), everything has to happen pretty quickly. The hay needs a few days to dry before it can be baled (the amount of time really depends on the weather), and there is usually a whole lot of hope and prayer that the hay will have time to dry, but not get rained on.
The first step in cutting and baling hay is, obviously, cutting it. The machine used for this is called a mower/conditioner. Not only does it mow the hay, but it conditions it as well. (Pretty obvious, yes?)
The mower/conditioner is pulled by a tractor.
The tractor drives offset from the mower/conditioner. The tractor is driving over hay that has already been cut, so it doesn’t flatten the hay as it drives through the field. Flattened hay is harder to cut with the mower/conditioner.
This particular mower/conditioner is a disc mower. It cuts with a bunch of round disc-shaped blades that spin, just like a giant lawnmower. The blades are on the front of the mower/conditioner.
The mower/conditioner cuts (mows) the hay, and then the hay is sort of thrown back into the conditioner. The conditioner part is on the back of the mower/conditioner. The tines in the conditioner crimp the outer waxy surface of the grass, which helps it to dry faster.
The mower coming…
The conditioner leaving…
This is our lower field after it has all been mowed. Pretty, yes? (This is part of the view I get from my office all day long.)
Next up – tedding the hay.