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Field Work. August 22, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Politics and Society.
Tags: , , , , , ,

There’s something basic and good about working the land.  Plowing and planting, tending and harvesting, mowing and baling.  It’s back-breaking work, but it’s rewarding in a way that only participating in the natural cycle can be.

I encountered Andy on my most recent visit to the high meadows of Windsor, the scene of some of my favorite Western Massachusetts landscapes.  The gate to the stone road leading up over the hill was open, so I drove right in hoping to connect with someone, ask if they minded me being there with Elliot and the gang.  Andy was up to his elbows in hydraulic fluid, doing the knuckle-busting work of getting sleeping farm machinery up and running.  Turns out he’s the guy who tends this Fish and Game property so it’s productive, rather than returning to the tangled wild.  He invited me to shoot away, just don’t drive out into the fields (check!) and don’t get locked in when he leaves.

So I set to shooting, getting a hay wagon in waiting:

…and what they turn the hay with in the field, I don’t know the name of it (* “tedder,” from jomegat in comments):

Anyway, it fluffs and dries it, weather permitting, before baling.

Andy got his old Allis Chalmers up and running (his newer rig was broken) and set to work mowing under charcoal skies:

…while I scurried to get a parting shot of some Goldenrod before it met The Reaper:

It was a New England afternoon with its Wyoming moments; I like that kind of weather.

All of these shots are courtesy of Elliot, with considerable shift on the hay wagon and tons of tilt on the rest.

He’s a good boy, that Elliot.

And approaching home, a nice sunset from the bridge over the Deerfield in the center of town:

And that’s that.



1. jomegat - August 22, 2011

That piece of haying equipment is called a tedder. We didn’t use them when I lived in the South. Maybe there’s something different about New England hay that requires them.

I liked that you called it “Wyoming moments.” I was thinking “Montana”before I read that – close enough!

2. littlebangtheory - August 23, 2011

jomegat, thanks – “tedder” doesn’t even ring a bell, I couldn’t even have Google it! 😆

And yeah, Eastern Montana’s got that vibe as well, high plains and big sky. I’m always pleased to find that combo here in The Berks!

3. Gina - August 23, 2011

I love that shot of the machine. It looks like a contemporary art sculpture! I think you may know what I mean, since you know me and how I think…

4. littlebangtheory - August 23, 2011

Yes, the “tedder” (thanks to jomegat!) looked just that way to me as well; I spent quite a while getting the angle on it which would convey that and still have interesting skies behind. Thanks for liking it! 🙂

5. susan - August 25, 2011

Well, I guess you’re never going to get many farmers to agree calling something a ‘fluffer’ – maybe ‘tedder’ is from teddy bear which we all know is filled with fluff. That would be a way to get around it.

They are all great pictures.

6. littlebangtheory - August 25, 2011

susan, a quick look into the etymology of tedder left me empty-handed, so I’m totally willing to go with your surmise.

And thanks, I like a couple of them quite a lot!

7. wilz - August 26, 2011

Not a “tedder”
See: 10 wheeled “Star Wheel” rake
It is used to form windrows in preperation for the baler

8. Wayne Hurd - August 26, 2011

Here in Nebraska we just call it a rake. The way it is set up now it brings two windrows together so it will feed the baler faster. From the looks of those dark clouds the faster the better. What has me baffled are the high sides on the wagon? I never would have guessed there are scenes like that in Mass. Of course I haven’t been East of Omaha in forty years.

wilz - August 26, 2011

The distinctive “John Deere” green pegs it as most likely a Deere 702 rake.
You can still see hay wagons with the high sides in use in areas of Montana, most notably, the Big Hole. They work well with the horse drawn equipment and Beaver Slide stackers some ranches have maintained or gone back to using.
Bringing out the artistic values of items we have a tendency to ignore because of how common they are in our lives is a talent… thanks for the pics.

9. sandy leey lee - August 26, 2011

Yup, it’s a hay rake. My colleagues at the Farm Service Agency set me straight on that one day when I asked them what that piece of equip0ment was that resembled a line of daisies! They thought that was pretty funny.

That was before they sent me out to count cows–“just count the legs and divide by four!” as if it wasn’t hard enough to count them, what with them moving around and over the hill and all….

jk ;-D

Great photos. It’s a good thing to have days like that, when you can feel so much a part of nature.

10. Wayne Hurd - August 26, 2011

Guess I forgot about stacking the hay. I remember those hot, itchy days with a pitchfork stomping down the hay. Glad we have easier ways now. My son puts up his hay by himself. Forgot to mention thanks to C@L for the link. Anyway, I’ll never look at a rake without thinking of these photos again.

11. blackchaps - August 26, 2011

That’s a rake here in Wisconsin too.

12. littlebangtheory - August 26, 2011

Hi Folks, and welcome!

Yes, I know how it works, turning hay for drying and gathering it for baling. But I’m a country bred-boy, not a farm boy, and hadn’t the language to describe this unit. Thanks for the clarifications; learning is a drug to me, and you all got me off.

And thanks for liking these photos – they felt right while taking them, and I’m glad that came through in the presentation of them.

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