Memories of Summer haymaking
On my morning walk I passed a field where the grass had recently been mown for haymaking. Not a very common occurrence nowadays I might add, as most farmers make silage because it is less dependent on the weather; a real bonus with our reliably – unreliable weather patterns!
As I enjoyed the smell of the freshly mown grass childhood memories came flooding back and I recalled my long days in the ‘hayfields’ as they were called then. My mother always made delicious picnics for myself and my brother Jim to take to the fields and share with our father and the farmhands.
These were happy days and it’s no exaggeration to say we loved being there; endless fun was had rolling around in the hay and hitching rides on the trailers as they moved the hay to the elevators which then carried them to the top of the haystack. My dad and his helpers would then build the beautifully squared ‘hayricks’, as we called them.
As long as we were careful, we were allowed to ride on the tractors and farm machinery in the fields, something which has sadly become unthinkable now with the advent of much bigger machines and almost total automation of the modern hayfield.
The smell of the newly mown grass this morning has made me quite nostalgic for the pace of life back then. Even the habit of farmworkers picnicking has not stood the test of time as the machines do everything so quickly that each operation in the fields takes only minutes to complete instead of the hours that were taken in those days.
The camaraderie which was shared in those days has also sadly gone as the machine drivers don’t have the time to stop and picnic or even talk to each other, or any curious children who might be watching from the edges of the fields.
I know only too well how the memories of older folk have a tendency to glamourise the past and can easily distort and gloss over the memories which were not as pleasurable! Thankfully that one thing which certainly hasn’t changed and never will Is the smell of that freshly mown hay that tells us the haymaking season is here again, and the cattle can look forward to some wonderful, beautifully made hay to be eaten during those long dark winter months!