Thursday, July 15, 2010


I had slated tonight as the day to buy hay. It was the first non-rainy afternoon of the work week and my supply was growing low. I'm already starting to plan for winter, so when I have the time and the weather is good—I drive north to Hebron to get whatever I can afford and bring it had to Cold Antler. Hay Day: I have been looking forward to it all week.

When the work day is over I go home and change out of the clothes I've grown so uncomfortable in. I slip into a tee shirt and wellies. I throw my hair up into a knit cap (yes, it's 89 degrees, but nothing keeps the bugs off and the sweat off my face like the natural wicking power of wool) and braid my hair into pig tails. I grab Annie (the best ride along dog at Cold Antler) and together a girl and her husky roll up 22 towards Nelson Greene's farm. Just past Tiplady road you can hang a right and weave uphill to Nelsons. I couldn't wait to be in that loft.

I only planned on buying half a dozen bales. Well, "buying" is a euphemism considering Nelson is rarely there when I arrive. I'm on a 9-5 part-time farmer schedule and on the late evenings when I show up he's either out or inside with supper. So I go through my normal routine. I open the loft and crawl up into the cathedral of hay and start throwing bales of his second cut down to my truck. I love that hay loft. I love the way it smells, what it means. It's an entire pasture in a rubik's cube of stacks. I can climb 30-feet high and feel safe. There is soft hay everywhere so if you slip (and I often do) you're fine. You land on the soft bedding and get up again. Today I stopped to take some pictures to share with you. I want you to see how my workday ends.

When the truck was loaded I drove us to Nelson's mailbox. I dropped off the check for the hay and then Annie and I headed south to Jackson. The wind felt good after the hot day. I drove with the windows open, my arm hanging off the edge. Annie hung the front half of her body out the window like she always does. Two girls and the open road. I smile a lot when hay is involved. I smile more in the company of dogs.

July is halfway over, and August is stalking us in tall grass. Before you know it September will be here and I will be barking for fall. I can not wait.


Blogger Harpy 101 said...

Beautiful. After my after-work gardening I settled down with the dogs and a glass of Plum Creek wine to read your entry. "Let's see what Jenna did today-or tonight?" It's like a quick check in with a friend at the end of the day, and nice to know you got to chuck some hay around. Thanks for doing this!

July 15, 2010 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

*sigh* :)

July 15, 2010 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I wonder if you could make your own hay. It's probably a lot of work for one person, and I don't know if your acreage would grow enough. Just wondered.

Once, a long time ago on a camping trip, we were driving out in the middle of somewhere between there and here, and spent some time following a hay truck on a two-lane country road. What an amazing, sweet smell.

And sometimes, in the morning, if it's ever so slightly foggy and cool, you can still smell the sweet grass in my little neighborhood. It makes me hanker for the country really badly, which is sad in a way, because I know I'll never get there. But it also makes me smile, because I can smell it.

I imagine a whole loft of the stuff would be really wonderful.

July 15, 2010 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger William said...

Great pics. Thanks..

July 15, 2010 at 11:16 PM  
Blogger Wild Plum Cottage said...

"I smile more in the company of dogs." - I love that.

July 15, 2010 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Emily Barnak said...

Jenna--this is your friend Emily. Sadly I do not have a current email address from you. This is probably a frowned upon post (I do like hay). There. I reflected. Email me. I have an awesome article about bowerbirds to share with you.

July 15, 2010 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...

What a neat post. I feel the same way about Fall. Come Fall, I'm one happy girl!

July 16, 2010 at 12:43 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Your post brings back memories of growing up on a dairy farm. Summers were filled with haying; there was time for little else when the weather was good. We averaged around 40,000 bales of hay per year, 85 Holsteins cows and at least as many calves and heifers needed a mountain of hay! Now, 35 years later, I still am reminded of those summers when I pass by a newly cut field of grass drying in the sun, it was the happiest time of my life – hard work, but simple and satisfying.

July 16, 2010 at 1:23 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

It's the simple things in life. Thanks for sharing.

July 16, 2010 at 2:18 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Ah, the sweet smell of hay. Some of my fondest memories are of haying at my Aunts farm in Petersburg. After we were hot and dusty and the last bale went into the mow, we headed for the river.
There is a variety of Goldenrod in bloom. Can fall be far away? I'm ready.

July 16, 2010 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

I love this kind of trusting commerce. It's like the old roadside vegetable stands where everyone bought on the honor system, stuffing their dollar bills into a jar left on the table. Except hay is more fun.

July 16, 2010 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

What a happy place! I love the smell of alfalfa. I need to go pick up a load myself, but it's off to the boring old feed store for me. Well, not boring, but not a soft, happy hayloft.

July 16, 2010 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Toni aka irishlas said...

Love hay lofts even though they make me sneeze like crazy! Nothing beats the smell of fresh hay or straw, imo.

July 16, 2010 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Flartus commented on the old style commerce of veggie stands with cans for money. We still have that here. At least 5 parties on my road have coolers with eggs and a can for the money. It's a way of life in Maine. I just happen to have a business open so I have my eggs there.sardoglady

July 16, 2010 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

There is very little as comforting and satisfying as a barn full of hay bales just before the winter. Sometimes I just go out to the hayport and lie on the bales and inhale. In the company of my dogs.

July 16, 2010 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Sense of Home said...

Reminds me of when I was a child and playing in the hayloft. I loved to swing out on the loft rope and land in the pile of hay below. Your right, the smell is wonderful!


July 16, 2010 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger hlbrack said...

loved this post, Jenna!

July 16, 2010 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

I'm with you - I never thought I'd want summer over, but this year I just can't take the humidity and high heat here in New England. Bring on the fall!

July 16, 2010 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger plantfreak said...

Thanks for the lovely post. My friends and I spent many happy hours playing in the hay barn. Simply jumping into a pile of soft hay from the top of the stack kept us entertained for hours. Of course this was always followed by showering, changing clothes and then still itching all night!

July 16, 2010 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Mud Mama said...

Here one of the best things ever is being able to buy it directly from the field. 1.00 a bale. Awesome deal.

July 17, 2010 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

craP! mine is 3.50 - 4:50 from the barn!

July 17, 2010 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Rosanne said...

it's obvious that you are not only a farm girl, but an artist.
You do a wonderful job of sharing your life with us both verbally AND visually -- love your photos.

July 17, 2010 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Rose, aka whorlwindweaver said...

I love the sun through the barn board pictures. Grew up north of you--I remember how the hay particles stick to sweat. Throwing bales around was a good workout though.

July 18, 2010 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Damn The Broccoli said...

I was making great progress but I think the picture from inside the loft just put my Barnheart right back up to full!

Dammit, I'll have to buy some more hens...

July 18, 2010 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

man o man, I used to love getting hay for the pet rabbits years ago - driving back in the jeep, the smell of hay, I got to pretend I was a farm girl. You're the real deal, fun stuff, that.

July 19, 2010 at 10:05 PM  

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