This Year’s Hay Production – Part I

This is one of our hay fields immediately prior to cutting, the first of four steps in our hay production for this year.

The freshly cut fescue grass, seen above, is allowed to dry in the sun for a few days until the moisture content is low enough to permit safe baling of the hay.

When the grass has dried to the point that it is ready to be formed into bales of hay, it will look different from when it was newly cut, as is evident from the photograph above.

At this point, the dried fescue is ready to be raked into windrows in preparation for mechanical baling.  The photograph above shows the two rakes that are being used to wind-row the grass laying in the fields.

This is the end product of cutting and wind-rowing in the field.  The grass is now ready for the baling machine to arrive and perform it’s magic (the topic of last year’s post Boosting The Average).

But what’s this?  Something seems to be haywire out in one of the hay fields.  You may recall from last year’s Boosting The Average post that one of the rotary cutters used to cut the fescue broke, requiring repairs in the field in order to proceed with the hay production.

 As you can see, this year’s problem involves one of the hay rakes.  It seems a wheel decided to fall off!

As Craig knelt down to figure out what would be required to fix the broken wheel, another problem came to mind.  How to lift the very  heavy implement in order to re-attach the wheel?


 Fortunately, Craig had his hay hauling truck “Cannonball” with him, and as you can see, this truck is fitted with a hydraulic bale lift on the bed of the truck.  With a little bit of care, the lift could be used to elevate the heavy hay rake for the repairs it required.  

With the hay rake elevated, Craig had no problem fixing the broken wheel (with a little help from a few hardware items found in my shop parts bins).

And as you can see, the hay rake is now as good as new – well, almost good as new, considering that it is probably as old as I am!

Part II (and perhaps a Part III) of our hay baling shenanigans will most likely be forthcoming in the near future.  I’ll bet you can’t wait, can you?

Keets ‘n Such

Retta spotted one of our guinea hens foraging in a pasture the other day, accompanied by a brood of newborn guinea keets, as seen in the following photograph..

We were excited to see this, because up until now most of our guineas were raised in captivity by Retta in a setup like you see below.

It is a fair amount of work raising keets in this manner, so Retta and I are hoping that our flock of guineas have finally reached the  “critical mass” necessary to be considered a self-sustaining population.  After all, as long as there are ticks in this world, you can never have too many guineas roaming around your property.

Now, if you peer again very closely at the first photograph (at the top of this post), do you notice anything unusual?  Nothing?

I’ve taken the liberty to enlarge a portion of that photo slightly, for the benefit of those of you who, like me, are afflicted with middle-aged eyes.  Now do you see what I see?  Give up?

Look closely at this fella.  He does not look the same as the other keets.  I believe that this is either a very deformed guinea keet, or else a turkey chick somehow joined the flock ;)

If you don’t believe me, compare him to the guinea keets we raised in captivity, pictured below.

I surmise that the wild turkey chick wandered off with the guineas as they passed by, and then lost his directions back home.  Sadly, the chick did not survive.

UPDATED at 6:13 PM

I think this side-by-side photo of the guinea keets standing with the turkey chick highlights the differences in their stature and coloration.


Remember this shaded picnic area from a previous post entitled The Catfish Pond ?  I was headed over to that spot the other day to do some maintenance work, when I was greeted by this gal ….

Apparently, Retta and I are not the only ones who like to frequent this cool, quiet spot.  The doe, whom I presume didn’t want to disturb my intended work schedule, loped off into the woods, leaving me to enjoy the peaceful setting as I went about my tasks.

Chores finished for the morning, I set off back to the house, when I noticed one of the buzzards that seems to have made it’s home in the trees near the catfish pond circling overhead.  Perhaps I was standing a little too still as I observed the bird gracefully tracing figure eights in the sky, because the vulture soon swooped down toward my position, landing only yards from my location.  Maybe a meal was at hand, he might have reckoned, only to have his hopes dashed as I snapped several photographs and quickly departed.

When one weighs the pros and cons of country life, encounters such as these certainly bubble up to the top of the list of positive factors.  Don’t you agree?

The Name Game

If you were to scan each of the posts that have appeared on this humble blog, you might notice something odd (O.K., I’ll admit it, this entire blog is a little odd, but that’s another story!).  What I’m getting at is this – in none of the posts will you find a NAME attached to our little home here in the Ozarks.  Because Retta and I have not settled on a name for this bit of heaven on Earth, you will find references within this Ranch Ramblins blog such as: the property, the land, the farm, the ranch, etc.  But no specific name is ever cited.

Perhaps it is time for this deplorable situation to change.  This farm/ranch/preserve/recreation area we call our home really should have a proper name that we can refer to in passing.  It would make the place seem, well, more rooted, more permanent, and somehow, more personal.

When we purchased this tract of land, we had the Abstract of Title brought up to date, and we were provided a copy for our records.  As a result, I can trace the ownership, as well as past mining leases back to the original land deeds created immediately following the Louisiana Purchase.  But those records say nothing about the names that past owners have dubbed this land.  I have, however, discovered the following bits of information.

When this property was developed into it’s present configuration in 1980, the owners (who had just retired from an agricultural advisory career in Latin America) dubbed it La Esperanza.  In Spanish, this translates (roughly) into The Hope, or The Aspiration.  I have gleaned this information from the following two sources –

First, long time readers may recall from a past post entitled Lay, Lady, Lay  that shortly after moving into this house, we discovered very touching farewell letters (pictured above) written by grandchildren of the aforementioned former owners of the property.  The envelope of one of the letters has La Esperanza written across the front.

The second (less subtle) clue was found after clearing out one of the landscape planters located along the side of the house.  I have used the “magic” of digital image manipulation to enhance the carved lettering found along the top of the planter, which clearly reads La Esperanza Farm, 1980-1996.

In the years that intervened between 1996, when La Esperanza’s creators sold the farm, until early 2001, when we bought the property, it was owned by two other families in rapid succession.  One of those families must have re-dubbed La Esperanza to Happy Trails, as evidenced by the sign above, which we found hanging by the property entrance in 2001.

Two issues are involved here – the first being the appropriateness of re-christening a farm or ranch.  As you may know, at one point in the past, Retta and I lived aboard a boat named Lorelei (siren of the Rhine River).  After purchasing the vessel, we debated changing the name to one of our own choosing.  We opted to retain the name Lorelei.  Apart from the expense involved to repaint a new name across the transom, there is a substantial body of myth/lore/superstition surrounding the supposed “dire consequences” that would befall those who would dare re-christen a ship from it’s original name (however, to be fair, there is an authority who claims his special renaming ceremony  works like a charm).

While I’m not one who clings to superstitions, when one goes out onto the vast untamed sea in a relatively tiny 20 year old vessel, it’s best not to “tempt” fate.  We never ran aground, never sank, never capsized, and never foundered in five years of frequent cruising, so there just might be something to the “renaming” superstition.  In any event, I do not know whether the “renaming curse” also applies to farm and ranch names, but it is something we must consider, if only to be on the safe side.

Second, assuming that we were to decide to adopt our own name for this property, what would we call it?  La Esperanza, while a good name, seems so out of place in this part of the Ozarks, where the year 2000 census indicated a Hispanic population of 0.8 %  (8/10ths of 1 percent) of the county’s total population.  Retta and I would be two among only a handful of people in the entire county who would know what La Esperanza means.

My first choice for a name for this property might be the following …

… because, with all the mowing, tractor work, sawing, toting, etc. to be done around here, there is  always some part of the body that experiences aches and pains.

Retta, on the other hand, who is more involved with gardening, poultry, and the other farm animals, came up with this whimsical name …

Due to the shear volume of ticks and chiggers that call this farm home, this would also be a very appropriate name, were we to adopt it for our farm.

On the other hand, either of the previous two suggestions might get others to dub us …

That would be no good now, would it?