It was hay time here again a few weeks ago. Usually, hay time is 2 or 3 times in one summer and in 1 or 2 days all the mowed, dried grass from the fields is collected and stored. A part in haylofts, a part packed in bales. On those days it is a back and forth of tractors driving past our house. Fortunately, the road near our house has been asphalted to the end of our garden about half a year ago Before that it was a gravel path, and you can imagine that that gave a lot of dust. Especially when a few of those young lads, who aren’t even allowed to drive a tractor yet, like to whiz down at a good speed.
Making bales is often done by someone from outside who is hired, because of course you need a special machine for that, which not everyone buys themselves because that is a considerable cost. That is why someone is called in who comes to the village that day and bales the hay for several people from the village at once. The bales are then lifted with a sort of big fork on the tractor and driven home. The packed hay can be kept longer, and sometimes the bales are sold when they have »too much« for your own livestock.
I think we are pretty much the only ones in the village who don’t have a farm or vineyard and therefore no tractor and work with it. Although, Bine often has quite a bit of work cutting grass and doing »farm chores«. But he doesn’t really mind. Of course, he also grew up in the countryside and his father had a small farm at home as well, so all this work is very well known to him.
For example, he mows my parents’ plot on the hill, the garden of the holiday home that I rent out next to my parent’s house, and a third plot, a little further on, belonging to friends of ours who do not live around here.
But the neighbor also regularly calls on him to help with the farm work. He has two sons who now both have their own families with young children and full-time jobs, so they don’t have as much time as they used to, to help their father with the farm work. Of course, it also has advantages that Bine helps others because the common feeling here is that people help each other. For example, Bine in return receives firewood from the neighbor because he has a lot of forest, and we don’t.
Clearing the hay is quite hard work. Of course, it always happens in the summer when it’s really hot, and it’s very dusty and itches like crazy. The last time I went along to help a little bit, but mainly I went to shoot some pictures ;). I still enjoy seeing that kind of »craft« jobs being done in our village. It’s not something I grew up with and therefore interesting to see.
While the neighbor drove back and forth with the tractor and hay wagon, the »helpers« threw the hay into the barn. The hay wagon has a handy sliding system so that the hay is first slid onto the wagon from the field and then pushed off again once at the barn.
Then it is thrown/pushed into the shed with pitchforks. Bine stood inside the barn and used a pitchfork to toss the hay further into the barn so that it would all fit. And where I take a small heap of hay on the fork (literally :D), those men really take a big bale. You would think that hay weighs next to nothing, but in those quantities, it is a heavy burden, pooh.
Fortunately, in between, they get a nice cold beer or a »spritzer«, white house wine mixed with spring water. And after the work is done, the neighbor’s wife always provides a nice meal :).