Working from Home in the 2000s
Summer in the country
Ah July, such an amazing time of year, picnics, hiking, camping, barbecues with friends and family, sounds perfect. Too perfect. This is not a reality if you are a farmer or work in agriculture, like our family. This is a very hectic time of year; cutting hay, waiting 2 to 3 days for it to dry in the sun completely and then baling it. Large round bales are easy; they get loaded onto wagons and unloaded either inside coveralls or outside in long rows. Small square bales used to feed horses and sheep are much more work; they have to somehow get loaded onto the wagon, and somehow be unloaded into the barn for storage. On our farm the unloading is a manual process, requiring any available family member to unload off the wagon onto a hay elevator, which carries it up into the barn and then get grabbed by family members and stacked in the mow. This is usually done on the hottest days of July; the barn literally feels like an oven and the unfortunate workers in the barn down jugs of water after each load to keep hydrated.
The good thing is I work from home. The bad thing is I work from home so I help on the farm too. Sometimes that help is unloading a wagon or driving to our local farm equipment store to pick up parts or supplies. Mostly I help by preparing meals and delivering them to different locations on the farm while my husband and sons keep working in the fields.
The weather can also cause a lot of stress if the hay has been cut and it’s going to rain, rain ruins the quality of the hay. If the hay isn’t completely dry, it can’t be used for square bales (damp square bales will rot and can actually heat up in the barn and cause a barn fire!) and must be round baled and wrapped in plastic to preserve its quality. Wrapped hay ferments and has a sweet/sour odour when fed out in the winter.
Farmers can’t make any plans until the hay is done. Any invitation to a summer pool party or picnic is answered with ‘depends on the weather, if the hay is ready, we will be busy, but if it rains, we can come’.
This summer while you are driving through the country enroute to your summer vacation or fun family excursion and see the farmers working in the fields, take some time to consider what they are doing. Are you going to eat today? Thank a farmer.