How We Rake and Cure Our Hay to Prevent Spoilage and Preserve Quality

It's all about tidiness and patience.

We are back with another installment of the Grown with Love series.

To recap, we learned about what it takes to Grow hay, and how important timing is for cutting it.
In this hepsiode (hay + episode = hepisode), we’re talking about raking and curing. 

So, what is Raking and Curing Hay?

It’s kind of like sweeping the kitchen floor into a nice little pile, then leaving that pile for “just a quick sec” while you scoot to the other room to see what all the ruckus is; then when you walk back 45 minutes later, you look at the pile, inspect it and ask yourself, “who swept but didn’t scoop it up with the dustpan?”. Frustrated you go to retrieve the dustpan, but it’s not where it is supposed to be, so you go off looking for it.

35 minutes later after you get off the phone with your bff - who called during your quest-  you walk back into the same kitchen, see the pile, let out a sigh, realize you still haven’t found the dustpan, so you get out the vacuum, and just suck up the dirt, and smile in satisfaction, even though you can’t remember  how to empty the canister of the cordless vac, so you just stick the vacuum back into the closet, finding the dustpan sitting there in all its glory.

Okay, so maybe raking and curing is nothing like that.

Raking and curing hay is a super-important process that involves drying the grass to reduce its moisture content and prevent spoilage. This is the second step in turning fresh grass into delicious hay, after cutting. See previous posts if you dare.

There are a number of factors that need to be considered when raking and curing hay, including the temperature, humidity, wind, and sunlight. The ideal moisture content for hay varies depending on the type of hay, but it is generally between 15% and 20% for timothy hay and 10% and 15% for alfalfa hay. 

How do you measure moisture content? Why with a Hay Moisture Tester Probe dohicky of course.

According to Merlin: “These meters work by measuring the electrical conductivity of the hay, which is influenced by its moisture content” 

This gives us a number and tells us go or no go.

Remember how weather impacts all of this? That's right, we're looking for lots of sunshine, wind - which we have a fair amount in the basin- and most importantly NO RAIN.

If rain is imminent, our expertise has taught us that sometimes it is better to bale than "hope the rainfall is minor". And then other times our 60 years of experience also tells us that, re-raking, fluffing and curing after a rainfall is the best way to deal with the cloud sweat that covered our hay.  Every field is different which is why the team at Anderson Hay is pretty great at what they do and have earned a reputation for consistently delivering high quality hay. 

There are a variety of machines that can be used to rake and cure hay. For timothy hay, a tedder is often used to fluff up the hay and help it dry more evenly.

For alfalfa hay, a rake is often used to form windrows, which helps the hay dry more quickly.

  • Tedder: A tedder is a machine that is used to fluff up hay and help it dry more evenly. It has a series of tines that are attached to a rotating drum. As the drum rotates, the tines lift the hay and spread it out, exposing it to more air.
  • Rake: A rake is a machine that is used to form windrows of hay. It has a series of tines that are attached to a frame. As the rake is pulled through the field, the tines gather the hay and form it into a windrow.  A rake is also the comedic prop used by silent movie stars and the three stooges. But that is not what we are really talking about.

And that is raking and curing.  Or put another way: gather the hay in tidy rows and wait for the moisture content to be ideal before baling.  Hmm, it seems like this could have been a 1 paragraph post. 

Next time, we will talk about how we bale our hay to protect it from damage and contamination. We also promise to not make any puns about Christian Bale when discussing the baling process. Baylor Swift however, is a different story, but she's on tour right now, so we probably will bale on that idea.

Jared is a curious creature seeking to curate creative collections through crafty language without the use of awful alliteration.

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