This was my first attempt at hay making for winter fodder. I had established smutsfinger grass for goat grazing purposes, and my next goal was to try to reduce our reliance on bought winter fodder.
I borrowed a sickle bar mower for my tractor from a friend, and set to cutting. A sickle bar cutter is supposed to be better than a rotary slasher, as the grass is cut cleanly and not chopped into small pieces.
I left the grass on the field to dry and then hand raked it together.
I made a simple baling box out of old plywood that I had lying about. The box is slightly tapered so when you pull the bale out, it slides out easily.
Basically what you do is rake the grass together, drape strings inside the box and stuff it full with grass. A small child is then used to bounce with great delight on top to compress the bale, you then tie the string as tight as you can, and pull the bale out. The bales weren’t pretty, but they did the job. There is lovely rich sugary smell that comes from freshly baled hay! I used sisal twine to tie the bales as it is very strong and biodegradable. I didn’t want to have plastic baling twine or wire all over the farm later.
Each bale took about 5 minutes to make. I managed to make about 150, enough for a reasonably sized haystack. Here is the start of the heap.
Later I got a hay rake, and built a steel baling box with a lever to compress the bales, and still later a baling machine, but hand baling was a good experience, to really get to grips with the process.