July is hay making time and July 2013 has been perfect weather for hay though a tad too hot for me. All the Summers when I was a boy were sunny and warm with never a drop of rain.
Hay making was always a big thing at Camp’s Farm. Hay making machinery is used only once a year and though some would carefully grease all the working parts and put it all lovingly away at the end of the season that wasn’t Dad’s way.
All equipment be it a shovel or a plough were all left where they were last used. Neglected and forlorn they lived in overgrown hedges or convenient corners with never a sight of a grease gun or even the wipe of an oily rag.
The day would come when Dad decided it was perfect weather for hay making. Job number one was to find the equipment. Guernsey farms are not one big ring fenced arrangement of fields all linked together. Not at all. Fields are everywhere, some close and others miles away. So the question was which was the last field to be mowed last year. Was it The Long Field, or Robin’s Field or could it have been the Muck Field?
The finger mower was a two wheeled contraption drawn by a horse with a high seat at the back for the driver. Running out of the side was a long cutting bar containing 2 steel sharks teeth blades that moved back and forth driven by the turning wheels to cut the hay.
It was very robust but a year lying in a field wasn’t good maintenance. Plus whatever had broken the year before would not have been repaired. The first day of hay making, after the mower was found, was then spent trying to get the mower to work and rushing around to get all the spare parts needed.
Usually nothing was actually mown on day one.
Tractors soon took over as I grew up but Dad had a passion for horses and used them for as long as he could. I can picture him now perched on the precarious seat of the mower knocking down fields of hay and singing the entire time.
Dad had stopped making hay ricks shortly before I was born so I only remember baled hay. A horse was a useful tool for collecting the bales of hay. If you use a tractor and trailer then someone has to keep getting on and off the tractor to drive around the field from bale to bale. With a horse it was so much easier. It would walk from bale to bale with just a word of command.
Hay making was very hard work and a pleasant memory was walking behind the last load of hay as the horse slowly plodded up the Track to home.