Make hay while the sun shines

Posted: August 16, 2016 in Travel
Tags: , , , , ,

OK, where was I?  I was in France, home for a week, then in Wyoming, and now home again.  On my blog, I’ve been all those places, but I still have lots to share about my French trip.  So let’s head back there, at least for today.

The truth of “Make hay while the sun shines” was evident during my time in France.  The area where I was most of the time consists of small farms.  Closer to Plombières-les-Bains, where we spend more than a little time, and Nancy and Colmar, the fields are much larger.  But no matter the size, farmers were cutting and drying hay.  Hay is, as Wikipedia says:

“…grass, legumes, or other herbaceous plants that have been cut, dried, and stored for use as animal fodder, particularly for grazing animals such as cattle, horses, goats, and sheep.”


Before the farmer cuts the hay, s/he makes sure that the weather is supposed to be warm and dry.  Once again, let’s go to Wikipedia:

“…whether done by hand or by modern mechanized equipment, tall grass and legumes at the proper stage of maturity must be cut, then allowed to dry (preferably by the sun), then raked into long, narrow piles known as windrows.  Next, the cured hay is gathered up in some form (usually by some type of baling process) and placed for storage into a haystack or into a barn  or shed to protect it from moisture and rot.”


When I grew up, my grandfather baled his hay in rectangular bales.  These days, there are also round bales.  But not matter how it’s baled, you always have to make hay while the sun shines.


  1. iAMsafari says:

    Nice post Janet, it brings back memories to me too – every year we came through this region during school holidays in France. In fact, my parents are still regular visitors. Holidays in August, it’s been too long…

    • This is a beautiful part of France and not as commercial as many other spots. I always enjoy visiting. My s-i-l and b-i-l used to live in Provence and while it was beautiful there and there were many things I liked about it, I think I like this area more.


  2. I’m glad that I haven’t to make hay since we gave up the horses…. it was a challenge every year…. I always got the “best” job: to press&stuff the hay on the haymow :o(

    • My grandparents had died and the farm was sold before I would have been old enough and big enough to help. But yes, it’s quite a job and almost always hot when it needs to be done.


      • yes… I sometimes miss the days there and the horses…. but not the hard work :o) we had to give up after my grampy died…it’s sad but with all what came during the last years, it was the right decision…

      • I love horses, but they are a lot of work. Our situation is ideal: the horses are in Wyoming and we can ride whenever we’re there. The rest of the summer, they’re taken care of and others can ride them as well. In the winter, the entire herd runs loose on someone’s ranch. Of that herd, only four are ours and my brother’s family.

      • That is sure perfect!!! Wish we had this situation here too… With a heavy heart I buried the wish to have a horse, with my grampy on board we could do anything alone, but without him we had to pay for all things… and sadly our budget is toooooo small :o(

      • They are expensive.

  3. Dan Antion says:

    Thanks for bringing back a few old memories, Janet. We used to visit family, on their farm in Virginia each summer. On during many of those trips, we helped my uncle bail hay. I also worked on the farm crew of a state hospital in PA. Helping my uncle was fun. Working for the state, not as much fu 🙂

    • Dan, I was too young to help when my grandparents were alive and had their farm, but it would be much more fun to help family. Hard work no matter who you’re working for, though, that’s for sure.


  4. Leya says:

    Old memories…thank you for posting about the lovely scent of hay! In Sweden, when I was a child, we made hayracks for drying the hay. We used to climb up and play on them, and sometimes sat down on one of the hidden sticks…

  5. Norm 2.0 says:

    I’ve always wondered if animals actually like eating this stuff. It seems so dry and flavorless, how could they right?
    But then again they probably don’t think about stuff like that, do they?

    • Norm, I can’t say with authority what they think about, but I know horses and cows love eating hay. Humans like cereal, which is dried grain in a sense, and people even eat that dry sometimes. Judging by their actions, hay is great. 🙂


  6. Thanks for memory Janet. In my younger days, my family & I made hay exactly like that – but before machinery was invented for making bales. So we used pitchforks and tractor to make wynds which we brought and stacked, again using tractor & pitchforks, in the hay barn beside our farm house. The hay was then fed to the cattle during the winter months, throwing it from a moving trailer pulled by a tractor – my dad doing the throwing by pitchfork while MB or his brother from age 6 or 7 onwards, steered the tractor in the instructed direction. Dad then jumped off when the hay was all gone and then jumped into the moving tractor and took over the complicated operations (gear changes and steering!) to get us back home.

    Oh – and during the hay-making Summer days, my mom (now 88 and setter-upper of the skype!) would bring tea to the meadow for us during the working day. To this day, we & many Irish farming families, say there is no better tasting tea in the world than ‘meadow tea’! My dad is now 94 and I will be skyping him in a few minutes – I will recall the memory.

    Thanks again.

    • I can imagine how good that tea tasted after all that work. “Meadow tea.” Love it. Thanks for sharing those great memories, MB, and say hello to your mom and dad.


  7. A bail of hay has corners in my mind. I’m always surprised by the big Tootsie Rolls of hay..
    By the way we have a French Girl staying with us now. Lovely person her grandfather has a farm I’ll ask her about the hay bails in her part of France

    • I grew up with those rectangular bales, too, Carol, but there are many round ones these days. Too big for one person to handle, though. Let me know what your student says.


  8. jan says:

    Last time I was in southern France they were making hay!

  9. Loved your photos, Janet. They remind me of my childhood in England. My sister and I used to watch the harvesting and baling of the hay in the fields close our house. When I went back there a year ago, it had all been built on. 😦

    • The loss of open space makes me sad, Sylvia. Where we live, a suburb of Chicago, there’s a wonderful park system, so at least there are places to feel that you’re away from city life, despite the constant drone of traffic in the background no matter the time of day. As large as the Chicago metropolitan area is, as soon as you get away from it, there are farms.


  10. irusja11 says:

    This is so inspiring! I love the post:)

  11. I love driving by the giant round bales of hay on the Virginia farms we pass on the way to my mother-in-laws. That’s the land of rolling hills, unlike all the mountains where I am 🙂

    • Where are you? I grew up in Nebraska, in the flat Midwest, but a great place to grow up. I love the mountains, though, and spend as much time in them as I can. 🙂


      • I am in Roanoke, Virginia. Up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I am a Floridian so I know all about the flat land. There are still some steep driveways that I refuse to go up here!!