Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Latest Farm Venture

It seems the next logical step in farming is to learn how to grow and cut our own hay to feed the livestock over the winter months when the grass isn't growing. Tim has spent countless hours studying books and attending seminars and he finally planted his first pasture on Memorial Day.

During this very dry summer, God's blessing on Tim's effort has been obvious as the 30 acre pasture grew lush and green in the fierce heat and drought-like conditions.

A visitor recently was asking how we've managed to survive the summer with the lack of rain but then she suddenly interrupted herself and said, "What's with THAT pasture over there?!" Tim's pasture was so green, it almost looked artificial. I told her there was no explanation except to say that pasture had been blessed by the Lord.The first pasture was finally ready for cutting last week but we still didn't have the equipment needed for cutting hay. Because haying equipment is very expensive and we're committed to only moving forward in a "no new debt" manner, Tim has been praying and searching for used farm implements.

God was gracious and provided the pieces we needed just in time. A hay bind was located in a county a couple of hours away. Tim was nervous about hauling a piece of equipment home that measured 12 feet 4 inches wide on roads that are only 12 feet 6 inches wide! He asked that I accompany him to provide support (encouragement - not navigational skill support!).

At many points along the journey, I closed my eyes and held my breath when the road looked too narrow to accommodate the large piece of equipment and the oncoming traffic. It seemed things were going really well until a state trooper came swirling over a hill toward us obviously in a big hurry, and Tim adjusted a bit too far to the right to make room for the speeding car. BANG! We both gasped. We hit something. Probably a mailbox. Oh no!

Because of the difficulty maneuvering the equipment on the winding country roads, we decided we'd have to come back to make amends after dropping off the implement at home.

On the ride back to the scene of the crime, we discussed what we considered fair compensation for the mailbox. Tim said we would need to compensate them well for our mistake and suggested we give them $100. One hundred dollars?!!! For a mailbox?!!! For some junky rural mailbox?!!! I cringed.

Once we arrived though, we searched the area where we knew the incident took place and couldn't find any missing mailboxes. Tim walked alongside ditches looking for what he knew was a downed mailbox. Suddenly we saw it. It wasn't a mailbox. It was a PVC curve marker - one of many that the state put in a curve. It looked like other farmers had similar incidents with the markers as most of the plastic posts were banged up and leaning in one direction or another. Relieved, we headed to find a restaurant to celebrate our newly found/kept $100!

Within a few days, Tim and the older boys finally had the implements hooked up to tractors and were only waiting for a friend to come over and give them some advice before starting up the equipment. Everyone was tense as we knew rain was coming soon and would close the window on cutting the pasture at its peak. On the day they were to begin, there was a 100% chance of rain at 5pm.
Timmy rearranged the evening milking of the cows to a much earlier time so all hands would be available to bale hay after our friend came by, but before the rain started.
I watched the weather website often as the afternoon approached. It didn't look good.

I had Sullivan take all my porch plants to the yard to prepare for the certain watering they'd be receiving when the rain arrived on the very hot, above 100 degree day.

It never occurred to me to pray because the outcome seemed inevitable - 100% chance of rain.

But as the time drew nearer, the forecast slowly changed and the percentage of rain dropped slightly which finally made me realize I should be praying.

In a scene that nearly equaled that of a baby's birth, I later stood in amazement as I watched the boys and Tim operating equipment for the first time in their lives that cut, then picked up the rows of grass, packed it into uniform squares, tied a rope and knotted it within 1/50th of a second and spit out the perfect bales in neat rows that dotted the landscape.

All with recently purchased, used haying equipment and tractors that had been abandoned at this farm and brought back to life by Timmy's mechanical skills and hard work.

The evening closed with 75 bales of hay being added to our winter inventory - and no rain.

The next day, the boys and Tim spent the morning working on the baler so that it would work properly and automatically throw the hay bales right onto the trailer instead of leaving them in a straight line like the day before.

The machines had to be worked on throughout the day to keep them going.

That evening, the rain finally came. What a storm it was! I looked out toward the pasture and worried as the guys were the only things in the middle of the open field while the thunder clapped and lightening flashed. They were driving out of the field as fast the the old equipment would allow, trying to get the trailer that was loaded with hay bales to shelter before the hay was soaked and ruined.

I knew they'd come in disappointed about the hay on the ground that had to be left behind so I warned everyone in the house to be mindful and caring when the drenched men arrived.

Surprisingly, Oliver came running in the door smiling. As he stood in the kitchen out of breath, with water dripping and quickly making a puddle on the floor, I asked if everyone was discouraged. He said confidently, "No. I'm sure we got ALL the hay the Lord wanted us to have."

Wow - what perspective.

While Tim and I enjoyed 3 wonderful days celebrating our 26th anniversary on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina over the weekend, Elliott and Oliver surprised us by baling the rest of the hay that had dried out after the big storm. Although not the same quality as freshly cut hay, it will still be useful to us.

Meredith told us, with great pride in her brothers' hard work, that they put in a 19 hour day on Saturday to bale the rest of the hay. The total count was around 350 bales when they finished and came in that night.

We continue to be amazed at the many ways God provides for us in this new life of farming. From phantom mailboxes, to 60 pound hay bales being shot onto the back of a trailer automatically, to hard-working boys, we are very blessed!

1 comment:

Graham Donahue said...

That is great that the Lord provided you with all that hay! You all should have let me know ya'll were getting up your hay. I could have brought my arms! But really, next time you all need to get it up let me know and I would be glad to come help.