Going up?

The end of summer means many things on a farm, but to us it includes buying hay for the winter. We usually buy at least 200 small square bales for the little barn, but since we’re still goatless in Goodhue County, we only need 50 or so to have on hand for an emergency. The sheep will be eating off the big round bales so won’t need the little ones.

So how does a farmer get a 30 pound bale of hay up into the hay mow, which is on the second floor of a barn? The first year our friend Paul grabbed each one with a pitchfork and tossed it up. Holy buckets. We didn’t ask him to do THAT again. Instead, the next year we acquired a very old, very used model of one of the most ingenious and simple bits of technology ever invented: the hay elevator.

This is basically a conveyor belt with a big tooth every three feet. Put the bale on the bottom of the elevator, wait for one of those teeth to come around and snag the bale, then the elevator takes it up into the hay mow.

Once at the top, it falls off the conveyor belt and Melissa adds it to the stack. She’s learned there are right and wrong ways to stack hay—stack it the wrong way and it’ll come tumbling down and you have to stack the bales all over again.

I’m usually outside unloading the hay wagon and yelling at the kittens (whom you’ll meet in an later post) to stay away from the rattling, dangerous elevator.

There’s something very comforting about filling the hay mow with hay. It smells good, gives the cats a warm place to sleep during the winter, and prepares us for winter. Let the snow come. Let the ice fall. Let the blizzards blow. We’re ready!

(Well, not really. I’d rather wait a few more months, so let’s hold off on the snow and ice bit. I was just kidding…)

And here’s something unrelated—an evening sky to the west of our farm…

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