Friday, August 16, 2013

Kansas hay

Hay at Lake El Dorado, Butler County, Kansas
Late August 2013 in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

Summer is ending gracefully. The weather has been unusually rainy and cool. This is good for farmers, but makes for an abnormal number of mosquitoes and chiggers, not to mention poison ivy that grows like Jack's beanstalk. A walk through the prairie grass in the Flint Hills is beautiful, but there is 'hell' to pay for in bites and scratches.

In Kansas, the combines reap the summer hay for winter fodder. Not being a farmer, I wonder what these giant rolls sell for. The answer - For sale by H. Lang of Overbrook, Kansas "350 clean bromegrass big round bales 1300-1500lbs. $65 each. No delivery. Will load from field."

Lest we think that harvesting of  summer hay is a new phenomenon, let us remember buffalo roamed the Kansas prairies for millennia before the farmer came. Once 50 million strong, buffalo herds ranged from Canada to Texas, acting like one giant continuous lawnmower stretching across the prairie for miles, traveling north to south, and back again, through the seasons. And when the buffalo didn't finish the job, trillions of grasshoppers might suddenly appear and finish the task.

Summer hay bales of grass and wildflower dot the Kansas landscape, like so many toys left behind by the child of a mythical titan. What game are they playing? Marbles?

This has been a particularly wet summer for Kansas. The prairie grasses and wildflowers have been abundant. But, the prairie hay needs to be cut soon or it will stem and lose quality. Any gardener who has waited too long to pick the lettuce knows that.

Hay and Tobie

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