Friday, September 13, 2013


My mom and dad raised big Holstein cows and sold the milk.  There were also many acres of alfalfa hay, corn and grain to be tended and harvested every year.

The job of raking hay was delegated to me as soon as my legs were long enough to reach the double brakes and the clutch on our little Ford tractor.

Photo borrowed from farmgirlfare who’s blog I read often 
to get a hit of ruralness without all the long hours and hard work.

Even after being removed from farm life for decades I’m still fascinated by what’s happening in the fields along the highway.

 Oh, no, rain on downed hay. Mother Nature makes farming such a challenge. 

My dad put up our alfalfa crop into bales a standard size and shape which could be lifted by one person and stored in hay stacks by the barnyard.

Now when I check out hay fields I see a variety of bale shapes.  Like everything else, even hay is supersized.

In grassy fields there are round bales which look a lot like giant chunks of shredded wheat.

Alfalfa is usually baled into big blocks which can only be moved with heavy equipment.

Big blocks stacked.

Wheat straw blocks.

So I wondered what I’d find if I Googled  square vs. round bales.  I was surprised to find strong opinions on both sides.

Square bales are more expensive, but are easier to haul, and stack. Round bales can carry botulism. Square bales, almost no waste.
Round bales last well in damp weather.  Square bales wick moisture.

Round bales can be moved by a grandma and a couple of grandkids.

It seems to be a lot like asking which is better…Ford or Chevy.  I just know that after a summer of lifting fifty pound bales  I could beat my younger brother in arm wrestling and fend off a fresh zit-faced juvenile male when necessary.

Oh, yeah, saw these on my morning bike ride. Guess what just fell off the tater truck.  Spud harvest has begun.


joeh said...

Is nothing simple? Even the way you bale hay gets technical...interesting though.

Joanne Noragon said...

My cousins were country kids. My brothers and I were city. We fascinated each other. We loved the outhouses, they loved flushing our toilet. We all loved hay lofts.

Val said...

I've never seen a square alfalfa bale. We see the big trailers of round bales all too often.

My grandpa had an old red tractor. We used to ride behind the seat, standing on that flat thing you hook the equipment onto. My boy cousin would stand beside the seat, leaning against the wheel cover thingy. It's a wonder we have all our limbs intact. The best part was that a bird used to build its nest under the tractor seat every year. We left it there.

Alica said...

We like the small squares the best...they're easy to handle, and stack nicely in the mow, upstairs in the barn. However...we do lots of round bales and wrap them wet, out of necessity when dealing with the threat of rain during hay cuttings. The debate is on!
That's one strong Grandma! :)

Jenny Woolf said...

I once found a load of carrots all over the lane, fallen from a truck. I took them home and cooked them. Do you know they were the best carrots I ever tasted. I still remember them whenever I go along that lane!

Buttons Thoughts said...

Oh I am sure the muscles on your arms were the envy of every boy in the county:) Round versus square oh yes just like Ford versus Chevy but I prefer the Rounds because to buy a huge Square baler runs in the mid $50,0000 range yup the rounds win even with a 25 year old baler probably still worth $5,000 :). Honestly is there any thing more fun then pushing round bales around a field and building muscles? Tater truck love it:)
Love hearing about your farming days my friend:) Hug B

Anairam said...

Wow - who would have thought the battle between square and round could be interesting?! But farming has changed such a lot over the decades, hasn't it - one's romantic idea of the farmer on his tractor or milking his little herd of cows himself (or with the help of a few farm hands), well, that doesn't exist anymore, really. It is all so very technological and industrial and efficient now.

TALON said...

I grew up across the street from a dairy farm so, like you, farms continue to fascinate me. On a recent road trip, I saw square bales stacked in fields in huge square piles. Had never seen that before so totally intrigued me. :) Whenever I see a row of round bales covered, they remind me of huge worms...sort of like those creatures from that Tremors movie. :)