Working with Rows

“Mini-windrows” on Cae Mari Jones

The hay from the Top Field is all in the barn and we are now working on Cae Mari Jones. The weather is still set fair, and we have been using a a different technique with rows to make it easier to fit the hay making around a busy point in the week. Thursday into Friday is a busy time for us, with picking and taking produce to a local market and work outside the smallholding.

Late on Thursday afternoon I rowed up the hay cut by Wednesday’s course into “mini-rows”, such that the rows covered about half the ground area. It was then a quick job for Phil to flip these rows over with a rake the next morning, exposing the wet underside, before going out to work. As the rows are thin, the crop is light and the weather excellent for drying, sunny with a light breeze, the hay is curing well without being spread. We have just flipped these rows again this evening, and it would be easy to imagine doing this several times in a day if we wanted to dry the hay faster. The work is quick and easy compared to spreading.

A similar technique was historically used in Iceland where hay making conditions are often far from ideal, as described
hereon the Scythe Connection website.

This article also describes using increasingly large windrows and hay cocks as the crop dries, to protect the drier hay from the deleterious effects of dew fall and rain. We have done similarly, using racks rather then hay cocks, when the hay making weather is not as favourable as it is at the moment. The drier the hay when it gets wet, the greater the loss of quality there is from the process of wetting and re-drying. Larger windrows, hay cocks or racks ensure a smaller surface area is exposed to damage.

“Weather-proof” hay making techniques such as these are vital when making hay by hand in our uncertain climate, allowing us to make sufficient hay over a season, even without sustained periods of sunshine.

After mowing this AM, Phil “flipped” the windrows to expose the cut ends, speeding drying in the row