My brother, Jim, and I drove down the road to Bill D.’s place to pick up the two loads of hay the sheep need to get them through the winter. It’s always a mix of 1st and 2nd cut hay; the 2nd cut being the more tasty and fattening of the two and of course, the hay my chubby sheep prefer. This winter, however, in an attempt to get them to shed some unhealthy pounds, I purchased more 1st cut than 2nd. There will be much baa’ing and fuss, but they’ll have to deal. I also picked up bedding (for sheep barn and coops) and insulation bales for the outside of the hen and duck coops.
Bill is an old-time farmer; the last of a dying breed, or so it seems on some days driving around North Country. He and his wife, Diane, keep a meticulously maintained farm of 450 acres – a mix of woods, pasture for rotational grazing, and hay and corn fields. They raise a small herd (50 or so) of cattle, and keep some laying and meat hens for family supply, and always have a family of healthy and happy barn cats running around. They grow some of the best hay around here, and I consider myself lucky to live just down the road from them.
I love picking up the hay at Bill’s. He has a huge, old barn that comfortably houses his cattle over the winter months and a mammoth hay loft on the 2nd story that is, by the end of haying season, stuffed to the rafters with layer upon layer of hay bales. It’s an impressive sight to behold. Walking across the stacked bales, the smell of freshly cut grass filling the air, dust motes dancing in the beams of sunlight streaming in from the open loft doors — it always brings me back to playing in the barns on my great grandmother’s dairy farm. It’s a warming and comfortable memory.