Monday, July 27, 2015

Day 1 of Haying the Word is Juicy

After four shirt changes, countless hours spent turning off the PTO, dismounting to clean the sickle mower out and then getting back on to mow a whole 10 yards before having to do it all over again. The little 3 acre Alfalfa field is mowed. Kinda. Truth is I think I knocked down just as much as I cut to be honest. The weeds were so thick and so wet from all this rain it was almost impossible to cut it with a 70 some odd year old sickle mower.

The whole field can only be described in one word..... Juicy.

Yes it was that wet.

Had I cut it over a month ago when it was ready it wouldn't be such a problem but the rain and the surgery, not to mention the fact that I didn't have a baler yet, meant it had to go too long.

Here are a couple of views before cutting.

Look at all that Johnson Grass and Sourdoc hiding the Alfalfa under it. Some of that stuff had main stems as thick as my thumb and all of it drained water out when it was cut. Mostly it would jam up the blades on the mower and then bend around it clogging the mower up and then knocking down the rest of the weeds and Alfalfa until I noticed and stopped (note stopping procedure above) and cleaned the blade out.

Here are the after pictures from the same general spots.

It looks a little better in the pic than it does in real life trust me here.

Still I managed to get a lot of it cut down. Enough to rake up and try baling I guess. After I bale what I can I think I am going to run over the field with the brush hog and try and get rid of the thick stuff. With all the rain we got the Alfalfa should shoot back up and give us another cutting this year I hope.

Here's a shot of some cut stuff in a row that went pretty good for a few yards.

 I tried moving out to the big field but it was even worse than the Alfalfa field. The Alfalfa field was at least cut a few months ago but the main field hasn't been cut in over a year now and it pretty much just laughed at my old sickle mower. To be honest it needs more tractor and mower blades than I have to hit it with. So I called my neighbor and I am just going to have to wait until he can swing by with his New Holland the size of my house and Hesson mower to knock that crap down. Again had I gotten to it a month or so ago like I should have, if I had had a baler by then, it might be a different story but as it stands now I don't have the equipment to handle that over grown mess.

About halfway through my first pass I misjudged the distance the sickle mower sticks out and slammed into a railroad tie I have lining the driveway edge and the Alfalfa field. I snapped the little guide ground thing at the end of the mower off with a tang loud enough I heard it over the diesel engine.

SO I improvised a field repair.

If you can't guess what that is it's the handle off a little one handed bow saw.  I used hose clamps to attach it to the end of the sickle mower to keep the end off the ground as once the guide that was there broke the mower blades were just laying on the ground while the back half of the guide was acting like a little plow blade. I guess I need to remove that part and take it down and see if I can have the thing welded or maybe a new part made for it. I believe I can design a slightly better one for the guy to try and make.

So anyway day one of the great hay cutting adventure is now over. It was a marginal success since I did get some hay cut myself and can now test out the rake and baler. I also learned a lot. Like.

Keep your hay field cut or it gets positively unruly.

My 861 Diesel likes to pull to the right when I am looking at the cutting as I drive it.

Big juicy weeds suck to cut. I actually already knew that but I know it on a sickle mower now as well.

Cutting hay is a lot of work when you have to get off the tractor and clear your mower every 10 to 30 yards or so.

Now I let this stuff dry and test out the rake. Oh joy.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!


  1. Baling wire, duct tape and wd40 can solve a lot of problems.

    1. SD - No kidding. My son came out and said I had completely McQuivered that shit. I didn't even know he knew about that old show.

  2. Well it wouldn't be a learning experience if things went smooth. Will the weeds in with the alfalfa affect it's useability as fodder?

    1. Ody - Not really. We feed the square bales to the sheep almost exclusively and the Alfalfa especially during lambing season to give them the extra nutritional boost. Sheep really like weedy hay if it the broader leafed type weeds. In fact with our sheep it seems the weedier the hay the more they gobble it up. The Alfalfa will still be in there and still give them a nutritional boost. Now if I was baling for the useless old nag horses then this field would be an entire waste as they don't like weeds at all. Also an interesting side bit if I get some mold in this hay because it doesn't dry fast enough it won't really hurt the sheep. They will pick around the mold or even some mold they eat. Horses on the other hand can die from moldy hay kinda easily and are often too stupid to know not to eat it.

  3. good luck bailing and cutting the large field....

    1. Rob - I am not even going to try cutting the large field at this point. I will just have to wait for my neighbor to do it and if he doesn't get to it then just brush hog it down and start over next year.

  4. I find your haying posts relevant to my interests.

    Here's a question noob to noob. Do you have to lubricate the sickle bar where it slides in the track or does the moisture in the grass act as a lubricant?

    1. John - I lubed it before using it although I used WD-40 since as it is fish oil it shouldn't add any petroleum products to the hay before it wears off. The bar with the cutter blades slides very easily inside the bar that has the teeth and blades the cutters slide into which is what cuts the hay. I never noticed my teeth or blades being clogged it was always the stuff that bent around the business side that stopped the cutting process.

      As a more pointed answer to your question though this hay was so wet that I feel it did indeed help with the lubrication of the back and forth blade.

  5. It will be easier next cutting. You are learning the equipment, I like the bow saw engineering. Let's hope it cures good, being so wet, at least you can rake it a bunch of times and keep it turned over.

    1. Sf - The humidity seems much reduced today. I had to go over the uncut spots with my brush hog set to high this afternoon so I added soem new stuff to the old but I hope that won't effect it too much. Planning on raking it tomorrow.

  6. PP,

    Hopefully the bailing and cut from here on won't be so bad. I do hear you my friend on the delays of cutting the grass. It continues to grow along with the weeds making it miserable to cut. It will probably take you a good couple of passes through before you get it to look like you want it to look. Be safe with your equipment, because you don't know what's lurking under all that grass!!!

    1. Sandy - Ya I imagine after all this time being unruly and allowed to go wild it will require a few ugly mowings to get it back to the way it should be.

      If it's snakes under that grass then I want to chop em up. Maybe a horse or two as well :)

  7. a sickle mower is a little more complex than it would appear.
    the blade need to properly seat on the guards, there are shims under the back part, which are held down by the bolts that hold the guards on, if the sections aren't cutting close enough, you may need to take some out or find thinner ones.
    there are also arched pieces which hold the blade down, a hit with a hammer may be needed to push the blade down.

    when cutting, you also need enough speed to undercut the grass, too slow and it just piles up.


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