I wrote this back in mid June when I happened to be waiting for my dachshund to have eye surgery. Then life got busy and I did not finish posting it. I still have it in my notebook. So, finally, after a month and a half and here we are in August, is my post on haying season.
It’s haying season here in Norcal. The air has a perpetual haze and an ever present ‘green’ smell that you don’t even really notice is the scent of freshly cut alfalfa or grass. Personally, I feel the alfalfa has a more green smell than the grass. I would know as we have a few alfalfa bushes growing in our yard and I cut the plant for compost, feeding chickens, or in the past, rabbits. I know green smells. I live with them year round.
Haying is an essential commodity in a farming community. Here, because we are in the mountains, our hay/alfalfa is supreme. Because of the mountains, shorter growing season,and probably other factors I don’t know about, we only get three cuttings versus the seven to nine that come from, say, the Central Valley of California. Farmers here don’t use their own hay for their cattle, instead purchasing hay from outside the area and selling their own hay for a higher prices for other outside areas. Inf fact, our hay is so rich and nutritious that it is used in racing stables for high end horses. So it is worht it for the farmers and ranchers to sell the hay they grow for a high price, then ship in hay for their own livestock.
Right now we are in the first cutting. There is something so base and primal about seeing the land produce a crop so critical to life’s function. I get a set of chills when I see the cut alfalfa or grass laying in neat rows. Seeing the outer parts of the field cut first, maybe three rows and all the inner field still tall, is perfection. Then there is the turning process, or combining the cut rows into larger rows ready for baling. I have only seen hay baled by a very small operation, but seeing bales coming out of the back end of machinery is amazing. But the best part about the haying process is seeing the bales in the ‘zen’ fields. Pure perfection. Neat, compact rows of tight, green rectangles following a neat grid.
Depending on the rancher, bale size and placement differs. The H ranch has bales that are the sixe of four regular bales, while just down the road are messy, non-uniform bales. Over the hill and down into another small valley are the neatest, most uniform bales I have ever seen. Like soldiers lined in a row……. No, more like bricks. Row upon row.
I have tried to capture the magic i feel seeing the hay, but it defies me and unless you experience and have an emotional connection to the land, you won’t get it. The same chills I get listening to a symphony or watching our military fighter planes take off or having wind in the pine trees, hit me when I see the haying process. I can travel up the twelve mile long valley and see every stage from green fields, to cutting, turning, combining, baling, and finally stacking. Big, beautiful stacked rows of hay. And lastly, the large trucks hauling the green bales down the valley to be delivered elsewhere.
This is a very big ranching and farming community, and while for the most part I don’t like most ranchers, I have such a personal connection to the land. There is magic in growing. There is the amazing opportunity to see God’s hand at work. I never had much feeling for the farming life, but I hold it in high regard, especially since living here for fifteen years.
Having Boris in my life has made me take a closer look at the life as well. I don’t think I’ve ever told him what haying is to me. Which is funny because he grew up on a Kansas ranch and still owns and runs it. Ranching/farming is half his life.
I have dreams of seeing a field of Kansas wheat then seeing it cut and baled. The sky of blue and golden waves. There is John Denver’s song “Matthew” and it talks about those two things.
Gold was just a windy Kansas wheat field,
blue was just the Kansas summer sky.
I can see it in my mind, but I’d love to see it in person. That is a hint to Boris…..
For me hay season is magic season. Just don’t get me started on my allergy complaints……