Friday, June 22, 2007

Square Bales 101

Today was spent running the baler. The "Wheel Line" field has been cut, flipped, round baled, square baled, and hubby is stacking as I type... it's almost ready for the water to be put back on. And then in about a month or so we'll be doing it all over again. But in that month we have a bunch of other fields to get to!

Here's the baler I ran. We call her "Shake & Bake" because it's hot, dusty, noisy, and you shake like crazy in it.

This is what I see from the cab, the window isn't the cleanest and I was "on the move."

That front tire just barely touches the hay as you're picking it up.

Before you even start you have to put the "pickup" down, engage the "engager," put it in gear, put the throttle full speed ahead, release the clutch, and you're away!
You not only have to pay attention to that front tire, you also have to count how many times this certain thingy (I don't have a clue what it's called but I put an arrow in the picture) goes clunk, clunk, clunk as it rises (you aim for around 16) and then it falls and starts again. You then know you have a good 70 pound bale of hay coming out the back, or at least that's what my FIL tells me :) There's also a ground travel lever you are constantly adjusting because of this clunker thing. Too many clunks, ground travel speed up, too few, ground travel slow down... yeah I'll get this figured out :)

So you think you got it all down pat? I almost forgot, there is one gauge on the dash you also have to keep an eye on, the PSI one. Don't pay attention to any of the other gauges because I haven't a clue whether they work or not. "Just under 250," is what Pops tells me (I just pay attention and listen... well most of the time).

Now you just keep going 'round and 'round until you get to the last row. But don't forget to constantly look back in case something goes wrong. One time, a few years ago, I was merrily baling away and suddenly hubby is waving his arms at me, I could tell he wasn't just being friendly. That "clunker" I spoke about earlier was only doing about three clunks and falling, apparently that makes for awfully tiny bales. I personally thought they were rather cute, all tiny and wrapped in baler twine, and really easy lifting :)

Alongside me today was my FIL, Pops. It goes way faster with two balers and if we're lucky the other baler is up for it. Because she is a tad older than "Shake & Bake" and her bales are a bit looser we call this one Lucy. It's nice to run Lucy on a hot day as long as you remember a hat and sunscreen, but at the end of the day I have hay dust stuck to me so bad I don't think I'll ever come clean, mind you Shake & Bake can be just as bad. Let me try to explain just how one (me) feels... ever rolled around in insulation, dipped yourself in syrup, and then added a coating of whole wheat flour? It's sorta like that :) Let me tell you a shower feels really good at the end of the day!


Anonymous said...

Kansas...The pioneer woman has got nothing on you....I love your thingy...Pat

Anonymous said...

Kansas - I am in awe of you!!

I love the names you give your machines, too.

DaviMack said...

Thanks for the pictures and the insights into what it is you do, and how it's done! Can you tell me why you do some round bales & some square bales, though? I've just done a google search & read through a really nice article on the economics of one system versus the other, and the storage & spoilage of each type, but it didn't say why anybody would do both.

See what you've got us city folk doing? Considering hay baling & the merits of square versus round bales, white mold versus black mold, storage and spoilage! Oh my.

Kansas A. Lillooet BC said...

I decided to post the answer here so everyone could see. There's a few reasons why we do both round and square bales. Sometimes it's just a matter of time, if it's going to rain and we need to get the hay off the field fast, we round bale it.
A lot of hay is sold and people who have horses and no cows usually don't have the equipment to haul and feed out round bales so they buy squares. A round bale equals about 15 or so squares and unless you have the equipment it's just too heavy to handle. Sometimes it's just the weather that decides, if the hay does get considerably rained on then it is usually flipped again to dry out but will then be round baled and fed to the cows who are much more accepting of it than horses. There's also a difference in the cuts, first cut of the season is considered the best by many, but second and third not as good so that will make a difference too.

Dora Renee' Wilkerson said...

I love that you are posting this stuff. Jon and I have been talking about going off the grid and doing more for ourselves (just today we were out of electric for over 4 hours.. So, what good days it do for us to be on.. I swear I have never lived any where else that the electric goes out so much.. The company always has a reason

Anyway, of course doing hay is something we need to do. So, You can bet I'll be back visiting your site here soon to show my husband how you all have been doing it. We have to learn and do it..

I am also going to get a couple chickens. I have NO CLUE on how many to get for a family of 4. Yes, we had chicks before but we gave them away (at that time hubby wasn't all for this way of living but now I have won him

Well I am going to get back to reading your blog.

Thanks for such great post!
Dora Renee' Wilkerson