News Updates

  • There WILL be blueberries this year!! Despite the strange weather that enticed the blueberries to bloom and then froze those blossoms, the blueberry bushes apparently kept enough in reserve and there are berries on the bushes – still green, but growing.  Check back and we’ll post when pick-your-own season begins…
  • There is one quarter steer still available for the June 3rd delivery.  The cuts are a standard set of steaks, roasts, and ground beef, including burger patties and stew meat. For more information and pricing, email farmer@minkafarm.com or use our Contact Page

Making Hay: Storing Food for Winter

Hay making usually starts in early May, but with the rain this year, it had to wait an extra few weeks.  Every farmer around that cuts hay was holding their breath, hoping we’d get one week of dry, warm weather before too much of the grass became stemmy and tough.  We got that week, finally, and made about half the amount of hay we need to have ready for the winter.

Hay is stored grass that can be fed to livestock when the grass is no longer growing – usually in the winter, but sometimes needed in the middle of the summer.  Unlike straw, which is the leftover stems after grain is harvested, hay has nutritional value, but if it’s baled while too wet, it will become moldy and can make animals sick.  There is a definite art to making good hay.

There are four main steps to making hay: mowing, tedding, raking and baling.  Each step has it’s own equipment that’s pulled by a tractor.

Step 1: Mowing

For making hay, a flail mower is used.  It cuts the grass near the ground only once and lays it down flat, funneling it into a strip of mown grass.  The mower is pulled out to the side of the tractor so you don’t flatten the grass with the tractor tires before mowing it.  Our mower cuts a ten foot strip so a square acre takes about 22 passes to cut.  So far this year, we have cut about 45 acres – that’s a lot of ground to cover in 10 foot wide sections!

 Mown hay that has dried for a day

Mown hay that has dried for a day

 Mown hay to the right, the tedder spread it out as seen on the left

Mown hay to the right, the tedder spread it out as seen on the left

Step 2: Tedding

The tedder is a hydraulic-driven set of tines that turn the mown grass over and spread it out to allow faster drying.  Generally, you wait a day to ted after mowing to allow the top of the mown grass strip to dry out, but depending on the weather conditions, more time may be needed.  Sometimes, a field will have to be tedded more than once – again depending on the weather conditions.  Our tedder will spread out two strips of mown grass with each pass and you can drive faster than with the mower, so this step takes less time than mowing.

Step 3: Raking

Raking takes the spread-out, dried grass and rakes it into rows of grass for baling.  The rake is friction driven and has no motor-driven parts. This step also goes pretty quickly since each row made with our rake collects the equivalent of two rows made by the mower.

Baling

The baler picks up the raked grass, making it into a very tight roll, wraps it in twine and spits it out.  Each roll from our baler is about 800 lbs.  You have to be careful when baling on a hill – a runaway roll can definitely cause some damage!

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