Making the cut

By Helen Row Toews

August 9, 2016 12:00 AM

What a busy time of year this is when farmers strive to judge the optimal time to cut their hay.
There’s quite an element of jeopardy involved.
Calculating when to cut is important since it will affect protein content and yield.
Once down, farmers worry if the weather will co-operate long enough to cure it, and will there be time enough to bale before the next rain?
To anyone with livestock, this is an age old game of chance and means the difference between providing a good quality feed over the winter or offering something of inferior value, perhaps filled with dust or mould.
There’s nothing quite like the scent of freshly cut hay baking in the sun.
Recently, dad, Kayden and I drove a few repairs out to one of the meadows where the mower had broken down.
As we bumped along the dirt road, dad and I exclaimed at the enormous height of the clover due to all the rain we’ve had.
I drank deeply of its fragrant bouquet which hung heavy in the hot afternoon air.
Tramping through the stubble towards the tractor, we spotted my brother lying inert upon the ground under the offending machinery, glaring up at a broken blade.  Horseflies hovered over him, watching for an opening to pounce, which only added to his irritation.
Once started on a task as important as this, it’s hard luck to have something go wrong and, more often than not, it does.
However, after a good deal of struggling and scuffling around on God’s good earth, it was fixed.
Unfortunately, not before the demise of a wrench that dad held aloft and sadly remarked, “That wrench was over 40 years old and met its end today!”
After all the tools were tidied up, Kayden clambered aboard the tractor with his uncle and waved happily at me as they rumbled off through the field—or perhaps he was only batting at a horsefly.
After a long day in the meadow, the hay was down and lay in thick, green swathes. 
Now we look to the heavens and hope for clear skies and drying heat.
It is a unique task filled with uncertainty and risk, sweat and hard work.
But, no greater satisfaction can be felt than bringing in the last load of bales knowing when deep drifts of snow drape the land, the animals will have plenty to eat and the gamble will have paid off in a rich reward.

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