Chester Chatter: The joy in haying

By Ruthie Douglas
©2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

It was haying time once again on the family farm. That meant that everyone in the family had a job to do.

My favorite thing about this season was the smell of the newly mown hay. In the morning sunshine the grass was mowed down to dry. It was turned over by a tedder a few times and would take a couple of days to dry really well.

The boys finished the milking then the team whipped into action, baling the hay. Us girls took turns driving the tractor, and the boys would toss the bales on the back.  We’d unload in the barn, then return to field.

My mother-in-law had an important role making sure that lunch was on the table when we all needed a break.  It was farmers’ lunch, but anyone else would call it dinner. Meat, gravy, lots of garden vegetables, either canned or fresh,  hot coffee and best of all a big, huge, fat pie, warm and ready for ice cream.

There were times when we were still haying in the moonlight to get the last load to the barn.  Often we would stop the hay wagon on our way back to the barn  and look over the mown field glimmer in the moonlight, smell the new cut hay and feel grand about our hard day’s work.

Family farms were a great way of life. I am recalling this early time sitting here today, looking out my window. It’s a time of love, to share and gather together. And I want to share with you my recipe for switchel.

Take one quart of cold water, one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, one-quarter cup maple syrup and a half-cup of cider vinegar. Bring water and ginger to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup. Let cool, then add the vinegar. Garnish with a slice of lemon. You couldn’t hay without this “farmers Gatorade.”

Seen and heard

We have been having some beautiful days making up for the long dark days of lock-down. Our family is getting ready for my grandson Alex’s wedding. It will be held in August, a smaller wedding than first planned.

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Filed Under: Chester ChatterCommunity and Arts Life

About the Author: Ruthie Douglas is originally from Springfield but has called Chester her home for 58 years, and has been writing the Chester Chatter column for more than 40 of those years. Ruthie is also a longtime volunteer throughout the community.

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