My Recipe Box
Farm To Fork

Hay Days

On the farm, Make hay while the sun shines is not just an idle maxim. In winter, the cows need to eat.

On the farm, "Make hay while the sun shines" is not just an idle maxim. In winter, the cows need to eat.

  • On the farm, Make hay while the sun shines is not just an idle maxim. In winter, the cows need to eat.
  • Compost is key to sustainable farming.

By Fine Cooking Editors, editor

September 5th, 2008

Posted by Maryellen Driscoll

After a long spell of consistently wet and cool weather that made August feel more like September, it’s finally feeling like summer again. I’d been craving that. So I got what I wanted—a stretch of sunny, dry weather with gentle breezes that make me want to inhale the moment and hold it in forever. But, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, because on a farm, such perfect weather means only one thing: It’s time to make hay.

As a small, highly diversified farm, there’s never a good time to make hay. Our 7 days of the week are already impossibly jammed with planting schedules, harvest days, deliveries, market days, butchering days, moving cows and fence … And yet, when the weather is right, we have to make time to cut, rake and bale up hay. Come winter, cows need to eat.

Nearly 10 years ago, when we were searching for a farm, we believed diversified, small-scale farming was the best way to truly farm sustainably. So we sought a farm with at least 100 acres—enough land to grow crops, graze animals, and rotate the two to fully complement one another. We still believe in this system. It’s enabled us to depend pretty exclusively on our own farm-produced fertility—be it from our compost or the manure that animals drop as they are grazing on pasture. It’s amazing. And yet, the longer we do it, the more we understand why we don’t see a lot of highly diversified farms.

So this week, we make the hay, before the aftermath of the hurricane hits. Ken drives the tractor in 90-degree weather with a closed cab and broken A/C (another $1,000+ repair in the waiting). And I stay back at the homestead, as it went last night, trying to wing some kind of a dinner while my 3-year-old hangs at my feet pressing for her dad, or a cookie, and my 10-month-old son surprises me by (gulp) climbing step ladders. Ah, yes, these are the hay days—and nights—on a small, diversified family farm.

posted in: Blogs
Comments (0)
Log in or create a free account to post a comment.

Cookbooks, DVDs & More

Farm to Fork

Join Fine Cooking editors and bloggers as we explore ways of eating local, from frequenting the farmers market to growing your own.


sbreckenridge sbreckenridge
I am the managing web editor of Fine Cooking and a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC.
view profile
Ruth Ruth
view profile
SharonAnderson Sharon Anderson
Im the Assistant Web Editor at Fine Cooking. I grew up in a cooking household (my mom is a cookbook author),...
view profile