A Romp in the Hay

I’m sure only a small percentage of our population truly realise what a blessing rain is… and I’m equally sure all my Queensland friends will be booing and hissing at this point.  But, after so long with no rain and unrelenting heat, being dowsed with 5 inches in one week sent us into transports of delight.

I thought I would never tire of gazing at the vista of quickly growing green grass and not even the unceasing mowing put me off – particularly as the mowing is done by Harry, the fourteen year old.

The seed heads in the paddock were level with the top strand of barb wire on the fence, and dogs, children, and chickens disappeared from view.  I’d walk through all that lushness with thongs and shorts on, trusting that the snakes would make way for me.

John gets very excited about grass, almost as excited as he gets about worms.  He’s always telling me with glistening eyes about the Warrego grass here or the blue grass there.  Here some clover, there some lucerne, e i e i o.  His enthusiasm is very contagious.

However, the gloss came off the other day when John proclaimed with a sickening heartiness that we should cut hay.  I’m sure for most normal farmers that idea poses no great dramas.  But we are not normal.  We also lack all the necessary machinery for such an undertaking.

But details such as these do not daunt John.  The more archaic the task, the more noble, and therefore more desirable, it becomes.

We do have a slasher.  Do not imagine that we are out there with scythes (although I think John is secretly planning such a purchase).  But aside from the cutting aspect, the rest of the hay gathering is pure hard manual labour, akin to colonial and convict times.  Thankfully we need only gather enough to last us for a year of nestbox refills and we are not attempting to lay aside enough for all the cows.

So John slashed some acres of tall green stuff.  This step was relatively free from trouble and he even found some large rocks, metal posts and odds and ends that had lain uncollected through months of drought only to be swallowed in the growth.  Far be it from me to be constantly running around picking up after others.

Then the fun started.  Turn the endless rows with a rake so both sides will dry – oh, the blisters.  Then pace the rows again, bent double, rolling up the grass that had looked so soft and fresh only yesterday but up close and personal seems to be liberally sprinkled with spiny burr, cathead, and kakhi weed – oh, the puncture wounds.

Next, pick up the bundles, a step which requires you hug the awkward rolls, getting seed and stalks in every body crevice and stuck to all your sweaty patches, and stagger over to the trailer, fling the thing up to the top of the pile and then pick all the spear grass seed out of your shirt on the way to the next mound – oh, so itchy.

Then the insult…drive the trailer to the shed and unload it all.

But today John saw something wriggling in the second trailer load.  Everyone watched from a safe distance as he gingerly poked and probed.  Two more sightings and then nothing.  We all knew he’d let it get away and hoped that it was just a legless lizard.  After watching John unload most of it with no adverse neurological affects, we bravely forged on with the work, making sure to double check that each jab in the hand was really just a burr.

It sure stripped away the last romantic remnants of hay gathering time.