Archive for October, 2008

Making Hay

August Hay 2003  photograph by Alex Hawley

August Hay 2003 photograph by Alex Hawley

Its Hay season here in farm country. From mid-August through September, the tall prairie grass is cut, raked, then baled to provide livestock feed through the winter. In this area, it’s the sweet, tall, highly nutritious Bluestem grass of the Kansas Flint Hills that’s being harvested.

Compressing the cut grass into a large tightly wound shape serves to preserve the grass’ nutritional value. The outer layer decays a couple inches but serves to insulate the rest of the bale. Thus, the grass holds up far longer than it would if cut and left loose.

It’s only been in my adult lifetime that the large round bales came in to use. Previously, hay was bales into small square bales of about thirty-five pounds each. A lot of physical labor was used to move the bales from bailing machine to feed. Now, weighing a thousand pounds per bale, they are impossible for humans to handle so machinery is a must. In one way it’s a shame that our youth don’t have such a body developing activity anymore. But as one who has thrown a bale or two, I don’t miss the old bales a bit.

The large round baling machine itself is a Kansas invention. Mr. Lyle Yost, founder of Hesston Corp. in Hesston, Kansas was the inventor and brought them to the market in the early 1970s. Now they are the standard of the world.

“August Hay 2003” was taken early in my Large Format experience using 4×5 Kodak Tri-X film. The print was made on Forte Polywamtone fiber base paper.

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