Outstanding In Their Field

Outstanding in their field Stng Head-WEB

How would you like to be known as the hunter who shot Bambi’s’ mother when he was a fawn in the famous 1942 movie?

Recently I wrote about my policy of not baling hay in the month of May. I still remember about 40 years ago cutting hay early in the season and finding lots of baby pheasant chicks in the field. I proceeded to find several mutilated hen pheasants that had been eviscerated. I was mortified that my farming practices to make animal feed as a source of income had such a drastic effect on all the nesting pheasants on my farm.

After this incident, I decided to delay hay harvest each year. Since then, I have found other advantages to making most of my hay in June versus May. But alas, due to certain fields requiring unique management, I still dip my toe in the water, so to speak, and make some early hay. There is a grim reality to the process of making hay, anytime hay fields and grassy areas are mowed.

Hay mowers, batwing mowers and lawn mowers are absolute weapons of mass destruction for many animals that are killed by tire traffic or bludgeoned and sliced to death by rotating blades. I believe that most larger and adult animals can flee my farm work when cutting hay fields, but I have seen the reality of many dead snakes, bunnies, frogs, toads … well, no need to elaborate any further. It is frustrating when I stop my tractor to allow young wildlife to flee my machinery only to see it run back in front of my intended path.

It was the last Sunday in May when we heard what we thought was a lost cat crying behind my barn. As I followed the noise, I was shocked to find a tiny deer fawn. I had never in my 40+ years of farming found a newborn fawn. I now had a real problem. How could I cut 36”-tall grass hay on my farm and be certain I would not kill the newborn deer that stood only about a foot tall on very wobbly legs?

I have noticed that many batwing mowers have been busy mowing the ditches for several weeks in Will County. It makes me wonder how many animals do they kill? Do the tractor operators ever have to go home and … once again, no need to elaborate. Personally, it does bother me when I see wildlife accidentally killed. Does everyone feel the same way?
I have heard people decry rabbits, squirrels, possums, skunks and coyotes. They do not like them eating their shrubbery and gardens, cats or small dogs. Even birds and deer draw disdain; they do not want them pooping on or colliding with their vehicles. Some would like to see all of them dead. There must be some middle ground.

I did wind up cutting hay 3 times in May. Twice it rained before the tractor could even cool down. Even though batting .333 could earn you millions per year in professional baseball, it isn’t good in hay baling. I decided to park my equipment for a while. I do not want to have to hide from my grandchildren that I once accidentally killed Bambi’s successor as the prince of the forest.

And now I will try a little light-hearted writing. I have learned that if you buy pants that are pre-washed, you pay more for them. Does that mean I can start to market my rained-on hay as pre-washed and charge extra?
Are faded jeans still in style? I have faded hay; maybe I can get more for it, too.



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