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It’s hay time!

When you live on a farm, no matter the season, you’re always thinking about winter. Winter is all about being prepared–hay, wood, heating oil, buildings to store it all, and keep the animals warm and safe…even in the hottest months, I’m counting everything on my fingers, making sure we’ll have enough to see us through the cold, dark months.


This spring was off to such a promising start. The cold winter slid gracefully into a cool spring and we had a generous amount of rain. But then, the rain wouldn’t stop. When we should have had periods of dry, we instead had mud and wet grass and gray skies. Not exactly conducive to growing, cutting, and baling hay. To top it off, we had an intensive summer of family reunions, trips to Nebraska for Independence Day, and family coming back with us for a visit. Like so many in Indiana with hay-eating animals, I had more than one sleepless night after seeing a forecast of solid rain, week after week, a total lack of hay sales anywhere, and on the off chance there was hay for sale, it was already double the price it should have been.


The week we had our hay cut was a week of genuine miracles. First, we came back from our vacation from a cold and cloudy Michigan (seriously, couldn’t we have a break from the rain anywhere?!) to find that the week between Michigan and going back to Nebraska was going to be hot and dry. It was perfect conditions for cutting hay and we got someone lined up to do it for us. Within three days, we had our back pasture cut, raked, tedded, raked again, and baled.

I love that my kids are so hardworking.

After dinner, we all went out together with our trusty old Suburban and small flatbed trailer, loaded it up, sent it up the hay elevator, and stacked it.


One thing I LOVE about my kids is their sense of adventure and their willingness to help in exchange for something seemingly insignificant. Between loads, all they wanted was a ride back on the trailer, the promise of a popsicle, and a swim in the pond when we were finished. Done!


When all was said and done, we had about eighty bales of hay up in the loft. It was a far cry from the total we needed (I try to shoot for about 100 bales per animal for the winter, which is equivalent to about 13 large round bales, which we prefer feeding, especially to the cows), but we were so, so grateful to at least be getting a start on what we needed. So many others don’t have enough pasture to sustain their animals on over the spring, summer, and autumn, which means they need hay all the time. At least we had green grass growing for them to eat, so we weren’t in immediate danger of anyone starving.


Enough hay in the loft for the random occasions we bring the animals in out of the cold during the very week we’d be there to stack it in the barn was the first miracle. The second came the following day when I happened upon a post for enough round bales and at a reasonable price that it would be able to keep Dolly, Daisy, Woody, Stoney, and Dancer all happy and with full bellies through the winter. Thirty minutes after I contacted them, they were backing into our machine shed with fifteen fresh, large, net wrapped round bales.


In a twenty-four-hour period, we were set for hay for the entire winter. That might not be a big deal to anyone else but it’s a bonafide miracle to us.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to have a supply of hay in my life.

With our hay supply in good condition, we were happy to hear that some friends were able to get theirs cut, too. Since they use primarily square bales, it makes for a big job to pick them up out of the field, toss them on a trailer, and unload them at home. Normally, we avoid doing work on Sunday, since it is literally a day of rest, but when the ox is in the mire, you get it out. On a hot, muggy Sunday afternoon, we went to go help but when we got there, it was immediately clear that something was wrong–every few feet was a busted open bale and while we watched the guy running the baler spit out broken bales, we picked up the ones we could and headed back home until he could get his baler fixed.


While we were waiting we got dinner ready, anxiously watched the low-hanging, scattered thunderstorm clouds, and said a prayer for our friends that everything would work out. Right as we said amen, the floodgates opened up and we were soaked under a deluge. We felt horrible that all that hay out in the field would be ruined by the water–hay that is even slightly damp when baled will end up rotting, rendering it inedible for horses. As we drove to their house to help them unload the trailer load that they had managed to pick up, we had a bit of something like survivor’s guilt looking at all the hayfields we passed. Plenty of people had finally gotten their hay cut for the first time that year (when in reality, they typically should have been getting a second cutting), only to have it soaked by a brief passing storm.

Lots of ruined hay. 😢

Our friends had driven home, missing the rain, so we knew they at least had a few hundred bales they’d need to feed their animals over the winter. But, surprise, surprise, it turns out, the scattered rainstorms had completely missed their field. Even while we were blessed with a nice thick rain at home to keep our pastures growing for the animals to graze, not five miles away, it was as dry as a bone so their hay wasn’t wasted. Another miracle. 😉 Monday afternoon and into the evening, we helped pick up the rest of what was baled and it looks like they’re set for a good long while with hay, too.


Our last miracle of the week happened the next morning when we were scheduled to have the cows bred before we took off for our week-long trip to Nebraska. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about cows, it’s that the grass is always greener on the other side for them. Though they were in a perfectly good paddock, they found a chink in the fencing and in a way I can’t begin to comprehend, they wriggled out of the fence (no easy feat for a cow…they aren’t exactly athletic like the horses, who, ironically, have never escaped from this house). Sometime in the night, they snuck out for a walk around the neighborhood, pooping in people’s barns, eating their sweet corn, and drinking out of their birdbaths. When I woke up the next morning to bring the two cows into the barn to be bred, imagine my panic when I discovered they were nowhere to be seen. An understandably grumpy neighbor came to tell us he’d spotted them eating his corn before he’d chased them off. Jack immediately jumped in one car while I gathered up the kids and shoved them into the other, telling them right then to start praying.

Dolly is a curious cow.

Right next to our property, where Jack has gone mushroom hunting, is an expansive forest that goes on f-o-r-e-v-e-r. If the cows had decided to go in there, they would have been able to roam for miles and miles without ever being spotted ever again (remember that story about Evelyn and the goats? That’s what I was feeling right about then). But guess what? Jack barely drove a city block away from our house and spotted three spoiled, rotten cows peeking out at the road. He shook a bit of sweet feed and convinced them to be caught (thankfully, two of them had their halters on), and walked the three stinkers home. We even made it back in time that the guy who was going to artificially breed them showed up right as we brought them into the barn, so we didn’t miss the window of opportunity. To top it all off, we were still able to make it to Nebraska at a reasonable hour, even after leaving a touch later than what we were hoping, due to the naughty cows unexpectedly taking up some of our morning. Miracle number four, right there!

Back where she belongs.

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned, leaving us disappointed and understandably frustrated until we can see the bigger picture. All four of these miracles–which might seem unimportant to others but were extremely tender mercies meant specifically for us–were an impactful reminder to be patient, that prayers are answered, to be humble, and that in the end, it’ll all work out.


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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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