chickens, fall, farming, hay

Hay, Woah

This morning, after a weekend out of town, I woke up and fed the dogs and cats, then headed up to see the chickens. I filled the duck bath and brought 3 eggs back down with me. Farm life resumes whether you are there for it or not, but it was nice to come home and feel like I hadn’t missed anything. Sadie told me the neighbors were planning to cut square bales of hay that afternoon, if we wanted any for the winter, we needed to bring the trailer out. I left work a little early and got home to see our trailer parked near the barn, stacked to the top with fresh-cut hay. I changed out of my office clothes and grabbed an apple to munch on the way to the coop.

I let the chickens out to pasture, then let the hen and her 2 chicks out to explore the yard. I named the babies Zelda and Zoe, because hopefully they are the last ones of this year. The chicks learned how to take a dust-bath, which was kind of hilarious to watch.

Sadie and I then walked to the barn and looked over the hay; it’s about as fresh as it gets. It smelled so sweet, and dry, and most of it was still green. Inside the hall of a barn was a trailer twice the size of ours, stacked across almost the entire aisle. Well, we certainly had enough for the winter – 175 bales in all.

Since our neighbor is keeping a horse in our barn, he came to help us stack it. We unloaded our trailer first, and cross-stacked the bales in the corner of the barn. Up and up, I couldn’t even tell you how high. Once our trailer was empty, I climbed onto Joe’s trailer and started throwing the bales across the aisle to the other stack. Sometimes they landed, sometimes they rolled off. Soon, we got sweaty. Little innocent broken pieces of hay started sticking, and then its in my hair and down my shirt and poking my socks inside my boots. The bales are dusty and heavy, bound in dull orange string for your hands to slide under. Grab, lift, sling, stack. The barn became filled with the sent of sweet, cut grass. We made a sort of ladder so I can get to the bales on top, with Fall coming on the breeze, that won’t be far away.

We stacked until the sun went down, and it became too dim to see. The important thing is we have hay, and the second most important thing is that it is high and dry, out of the weather and away from hungry mouths. The dogs and I rode in the back of the hay-strewn trailer up to the house, and I realized it was the first hay ride of the season. I took my boots off in the kitchen and left a pile of hay by the table. My fingers, arms, shoulders, and back felt tight like baling twine. My arms were scratched and my neck itchy. I laid back on the cool tile and Casey came to lay with me – muddy from the creek. Sadie walked into the kitchen and thought I had passed out, it scared her so bad I had to swear I would let her know next time I wanted to lay on the floor.

We decided – well, I decided, – that we should have BBQ Chicken for dinner. It was almost 9 and I could just about taste it. Sadie yelled at me from the basement, and I put shoes on to head down there. Apparently the freezer wasn’t running. This isn’t any ordinary freezer, it’s the legendary basement freezer where they would put bodies if it was some kind of horror show. The light wasnt on, there was no humming, and it was about to be a very long night. We found and extension cord and ran the freezer plug to a new outlet, just in case all of the electrical work we’ve had on the house somehow affected the basement wiring. No luck. Sadie went to the shop, cats in tow, and brought down another extension cord.

With her in the basement and me upstairs, we tried running the two extension cords up to the living room where we knew the plugs definitely worked. After some weaving, we ran the cord back up the stairs, under the door, across the dining room and into the living room. I went back to the basement and held my breath: we heard the freezer humming. “Does the light come on?” Sadie shouted down the stairs – it took a second to lift the lid up because the handle is broken, but sure enough, the light came on. I sent the news upstairs to Sadie and she said “Haleluijah!”

We had grilled cheese for supper, the BBQ chicken can wait for another night.


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