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April 22, 2021

Makin’ Hay

It’s that time of year again. Makin’ hay ain’t just for the sales team. Late March into April when the spring rains start. That’s when I get my tractor time: Long hours on a rough horse thinking about this and that. Hours of sheer boredom punctuated by hair-rock in the headphones and flashes of insight.

Actually, the fun part of planting is using the tractor after all the obligatory repairs completed over the winter. This year we are sporting a brand new fuel tank ($800 and a tear-down to the frame, thank you very much!), new hydraulic feedback hose, bonnet gaskets and an oil change. I’m sure that the tractor goes faster now. Really…

Shredding

The first step to planting hay: Shredding the overgrowth. This has to be the most satisfying part of the ritual as it is easy to see the progress you’ve made and the carpet effect of cutting down the tall, brown weeds leaving only the emerging grasses.

Hawk in field
“Hmmm… What have we here for lunch?!”
Hawk in tree
Mr. Hawk keeps a sharp eye on The Fat Rancher’s work.

Next comes the “booty bash.” This is the party which is roughly equivalent to riding a donkey over the mountains for 6 plus hours. You see, tractors don’t have any suspension. Towing a tine plow with a small tractor is equivalent to having your rump paddled for hours as you bump and hump over the rough pasture, tugging the plow through the rocks and grasses.

The effect gets even worse on the next pass, distributing the seed over the newly plowed field. Finally, you get to do it again, discing the seed into the soil.

Using bandaids for wire insulation
This is what we call the Red Neck repair.

Finally, seeded and disced. Hot dawg! Now, will it rain? Those skies look awfully blue.

Two days later: Rain! Only an inch. But we have hope for more next week.

Sudan grass emerging

This is what we are looking for after planting hay. A nice carpet of Sudan grass for the cows.

Pasture after shredding

Mr. Hawk especially appreciates this effort as tasty critters emerge crying “run for your life!” The Hawk obliges.

Completetly shredded pasture
Main Pasture complete. Looks fit for a picnic!

Plowing

Clouds lurk threatening to rain before seeding is complete.

Of course, no plant would be complete without several “breakdowns.”

First, we have an overheat. Back to the barn for a radiator dust blow-out, re-water, and tightening of the fan belt.

Next, a broken lift pin. These three-point hitch parts always seem to crap out as far away from the barn as possible.

Then a broken bracket on the seed applicator. The whole thing falls off taking the wiring with it. Time for a quick-fix Fat Rancher style… Yeah, camo bandages. That was my stocking stuffer this year!

Discing

Disced pasture