Our industrialized school systems were instituted to produce factory workers — obedient, understand (read, write, math, social awareness) and follow instructions carefully, respond well to authority, punctual, and trained to work by the clock.
Then, after WWII, the government and big business became invested in scientists and engineers (and universities started receiving all the money, if they would just graduate more students). And elementary and secondary education systems began siphoning off all the “college” prospects, redirecting them from serving their community, to “bettering themselves”, “serving their nation”, or just “because a college education is important“.
Now, as the industrial age comes to a close, how is a resilient community going to take charge of their children’s education. The purpose? First, to assure that the values and experience that nurture and grow the community are indeed passed on to following generations, in such a way that that knowledge base remains reasonably intact despite the opposing needs of competing special interests.
Next, if we worry about local food security, how much more important must it be, for a sustainable answer, to assure a sustainable body of people growing up and investing in the needs of the community, first? How can any social structure survive, without assuring that progeny are educated and raised to serve the community first?
Or should Transition continue to contribute their children to national (special) interests?
Archive for the ‘Peak Oil’ Category
Tam at View From the Porch asks in Uh, yes, Mr. Luthor, I’m applying for the position of “supervillain”?, “Why is the supervillain trying to blow up the planet? What do the bad guys stand to gain from that? ”
I recall reading, back in my college days, a fascinating definition of “good” and “evil”. That was the alignment chart in an appendix to the 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons’ Player’s Manual.
Good — choose to act for the best interest of the (D&D) party, with the assumption that what is best for the party is better for one’s self. Evil — choose to act for the most apparent good for the self, assuming that if one’s self benefits the (D&D) party won’t be harmed much.
A definition of evil from science fiction is that evil cannot accept beauty or value in someone else’s possession, and would choose to destroy anything (coveted) that one cannot possess.
As for someone setting out to poison the atmosphere, that would fall under the evil of genocide, wanting to kill everyone (or maybe just the neighbor’s dog), and be justified under the “destroy it to deny it to someone else” rule, with complete disregard for likely consequences for one’s self. You see this kind of “immediate objective” thinking in those that rob banks, brutalize friends, family, and strangers, and commit other anti-social acts, so scaling it up to deliberate atmospheric destruction is mere, um, hyperbole.
Myself, I think the truth is that, yes, the climate is changing, as it always has. Thirty five years ago scientists of the day proclaimed that the 1950s were the “mildest decade on record” (this after the atmospheric disturbance and carbon consumption of WWII, a definite change from previous decades). It makes sense, to me, that the climate will keep getting “less mild” for several more centuries or millenia.
Making a statement doesn’t make it true. Stating that B. Hussein Obama won more electoral votes in an election with the most voter fraud in history, doesn’t mean that most voter voted for him. Stating that the climate is changing doesn’t mean that burning fossil fuels has anything significant to do with the change, unlike the destruction of old growth forests in Europe, the US east of the Mississippi, the Amazon rain forest, and Asia.
Stating that something makes sense does not make it so. Stating that the climate is changing (it is) doesn’t make anyone’s statement about why the climate is changing de facto truth. “Let’s spend another few hundreds (thousands?) of megawatts of energy to build another new, 3% more “efficient” car, instead of assuring the megawatts already spent to build the cars already on the road continue to function, well, for a few extra years” really should appear absurd to everyone.
The ThinkProgress.org article might as well point out that Cash for Clunkers and other Government Motors programs are generating greenhouse gases merely to enrich labor unions and get B. Hussein Obama re-elected.
Stating that David H. Koch of Koch Industries made his money by polluting the climate is propaganda, slanted and twisted persuasive speech, (evilly) meant to destroy the reputation and prospects of someone that met his community’s needs, employed countless thousands of people, and enabled a *lot* of people to put food on their table.
I didn’t see that the article took any pains to establish whether there would have been more carbon, or less, emitted over the course of Mr. Koch’s career if he had instead become a plumber or college professor. And I still want to see the carbon footprint of money spent on government programs from defense spending to welfare and all the rest.
And, by the way, Koch enabled a lot of investors and wage earners, customers and community members, to breath the air of the climate that is changing for various and sundry reasons including the solar changes that are warming all the planets in the solar system.
Rob at Transition Culture is looking for a few good people. Or ideas for what they should be prepared to do, in 2030.
Here is what I think.
We are no longer protecting Labor Union jobs in factories. 18 as a working age is no longer the threat to livelihoods it once was.
State run and funded schools seem to be intended to divert children from local crafts and labors, and from continuing in family and community traditions and meeting family and community needs. If such funding were to end, or be rejected (as by home schooling, private schools, etc.), then instead of fueling today’s wealth-concentrating economies (which seem to be headed for the trash heap), we would again, as in the past, recognize that about the first eight years of schooling prepare the student in the basics — reading, writing, arithmetic, social order, pertinent (to someone!) local, national, and world history and geography. That is, eighth grade is intended to produce an informed voter, about the age of puberty. I recall reading that in the US colonies, the average age of marriage was 12-13 years.
Apprenticeships started from age 10-13, as I recall reading. Waiting for youngsters to be indoctrinated in someone else’s bought and paid for agenda, to start orienting them toward local needs and resources, seems wasteful.
Robert Heinlein, in “Have Space Suit Will Travel” (science fiction, 1950s, I think) found the hero’s father unmoved by the high school curriculum, and instituted an independent course of study on top of the regular school work. That is certainly doable today, and a pointed criticism of allowing the state to determine whether a student is prepared to serve himself/herself, their family and community.
Frankly, I can foresee that people suited to the elder list (posted, perhaps, humorously) to be quite relevant today. The opportunities for such employment may be lagging what communities need, but the needs for shepherds, for additional helping hands, do indeed exist. And I think the cottage with garden in lieu of the bulk of wages should be an aspect of the future to be hoped for.
As for future occupations — I think wheel wright comes to mind, and someone to make hand carts. In airports and some shopping malls, there are boutique businesses run from carts and from cart replicas. Whether selling fruits and vegetables, piece goods, knickknacks, tools, tool repairs, or the topless hot dog vendors that troubled Florida a couple of years ago, this level of small business will need the carts. Personal use of carts to move goods and belongings may well grow, as the personal auto becomes less common, and probably should be encouraged.
Shopping carts are expensive, and today’s carts won’t last forever. Besides, shopping carts are less useful off the pavement.
Wooden wheels, and steel rimmed wooden wheels, may be needed for lighter use in the future, if petroleum-based tires become less accessible.
In the short term, I think we need trainers. Trainers to get people started farming who don’t have the generations of wisdom and practice of the land that feeds (mostly) today’s world. Trainers to get people started gardening successfully, that may need more knowledge than which Monsanto product to use when. Trainers to help people learn to salvage and re-use materials, rather than burn tax dollars to fuel traditional wealth-gatherers by “recycling”.
We need home builders that build homes that consume less energy. And trainers to help people adjust to an energy-appropriate lifestyle.
A reoriented community school could both demonstrate and support such efforts.
Another science fiction author comes to mind, Leo Frankowski. The first three or four novels of his Conrad Stargard series, beginning with “Crosstime Engineer” deals a lot with appropriate engineering, and introducing productive small scale, community based crafts and industries.
So, there I was, checking (being cashier) at Wal-Mart in the garden center. This family comes through with a bag of kitty litter, a covered litter box and even an odor filter for the box. Being somewhat contrary, and not wanting to sound personal with someone that I don’t know, I commented, “You know, this is the wrong kind of litter pan for cat poop cookies.”
I had to explain the concept to the family (I was shocked this was an unfamiliar topic). Mom was grossed out, and I am not sure she ever really understood that you don’t use cat poop as an ingredient. Dad got it right away, and thought it sounded both fun and something neat to try. Last night I mentioned my surprise to an older couple checking out. They both thought it sounded like fun. My manager hadn’t heard of cat poop cookies. *sigh*
The AllRecipes.com recipe page has a cute photo. I think it is mis-done, but. . .
Google, last time I checked, had scads of recipes for cat poop cookies. I found one cat poop cookie recipe on MuttCat.com. (MuttCats.com features an animal shelter directory, articles, fiction, pet memorials, discussion boards, shopping and more.)
I also tend to ask customers at my register how their Wal-Mart adventure went today.
OK. Wired.com has their panties in a twist about data collected by specially equipped “Street View” vehicles that Google fielded to collect imagery around towns, cities, and countryside. Well, they wanted to present good imagery for their Google Earth and other products.
What Google appears to have done is stick an antennae on the car, and record whatever they picked up. Unsecured computers and networks, full of data, emails, passwords? Yep.
It occurs to me that this is precisely what the feds have been doing for the last eleven years under the Patriot Act. Only the Feds have set out to collect on targeted individuals, keeping their data secret, and keeping it forever, just in case it can be used in the future.
Sounds exactly like what Google did. Only Google wasn’t targeting anyone. Just randomly sampling what was unsecured, and broadcasted across the landscape as radio signals.
I could make the case that Google, unlike the “secret no-fly list” Feds, were entitled to record and save for whatever purpose, anything they received as radio signals. It used to be called the “fair use” doctrine. This is what allowed millions of Dr. Demento fans to record the good doctor weekly, for years. And listen to radio programs, for that matter.
Now, Google picked up signals from private sources, not professional, licensed organizations regulated and taxed as broadcasting operations. But the FCC has made provisions for ad hoc transmissions (i.e., noise or unintended broadcasts) and micro-power broadcasting.
And I really don’t like the thought of the Feds keeping data they captured secretly, just in case they find a use, someday. Google is pretty low on my “evil” meter, for this one.
I wonder if Google has considered claiming the data collection was under contract to the Feds, as part of routine Patriot Act surveillance of random neighborhoods? How would the Feds prove their secret program that refuses efforts of anyone to verify they obey the law, did not in fact engage with Google to collect stuff?
It occurs to me that the 1930s depression is called the “Great Depression”. Will what seems to be coming be called GDII (Great Depression II)?
I think it has started. Wal-Mart here in Ponca City is gearing up the garden center for the spring rush. And there are a few empty shelves, products that were projected but not available. Products that should be in stock, but aren’t here.
Play sand. The bags of natural sand used for sand boxes, mixing with potting soil, making a foundation for laying stepping stones and pavers, or for leveling under a planter or water tank. None. Or the companion Red, Blue, or Purple Crayola sands (at nearly double the price for a slightly smaller bag) — except the red ran out and hasn’t yet been replaced. In a month.
Potting soil? Some is plentiful. But there are a couple of gaps. A couple of gaps in mulches, too. Not many — but it didn’t happen that way last year.
The intermittent outages, I think, are starting to show up at Wal-Mart. The other day they were down to three boxes of Great Value Fudge Brownies. I bought two of them. Where will it end?
I respect the argument that modern wealth is generated initially by applying cheap energy to transform resources into expensive resources. With the rising cost of energy, due to rising oil prices and manipulations by B. Hussein Obama (President of the United States this year), I think the fundamental economic collapse currently under way might be called the “Energy Depression”.
The “leverage” multiplying the dollar values assigned to intangibles today that look somewhat similar, if less tangible, to the root causes of the 1929 stock market crash. All the government tactics and strategies that blew that crash into the Great Depression, and prolonged it a decade longer than necessary, are all very much alive and striving to repeat their historic achievements once again. In some ways, this time around the oncoming debacle could rightly be called the government’s Next Great Depression.
But this time around it is engineered. President Obama is aggressively demolishing the engines of wealth in America. He is undermining the production and value of oil and gas, while colluding with speculators to funnel “green energy” money to friends and allies. He is actively denigrating the US Government, both Congress and the US Supreme Court. This is an intentional disruption of democracy in America, and intended to wrest control away from the nation and into his and his cronies’ hands.
President Obama calls it a “Buffet Rule”, assuring that the wealthy pay high taxes. When Congress has determined, over the years, that certain investments and incomes are worth more to the nation than the tax revenue they would generate — President Obama calls Congress “Stupid” with a capital S, when he instead insists that “they have to pay their fair share”.
Who is next? Will President Obama decide that churches, other religious organization, the Red Cross, are “hoarding” tax dollars? What about corporations that oppose unfair labor practices (by labor unions)? Who would be willing to stand up and shout, “Hey, if the guy ain’t working, his wages shouldn’t make my car more expensive!” At least, no one does today about sweetheart labor deals that idle 4-10% of employees at full (union) pay.
Think of it this way. President Obama does *not* want the truck that brings bread, frozen food, potato chips, and shampoo to your grocery store, to Target or Wal-Mart — he doesn’t want them to be able to run every day.
What will you do, when you need a new laundry basket, and it has been a month since any store in town has had one available?
What will you do, when your grocer gets ice cream enough for a couple of days — once a month?
What will you do, when none of the stores in your town have shoes in your size, for a couple of months at a time?
What will you do, when the gas station doesn’t have enough gas for all customers, most of the time?
I foresee this all coming, the intermittent deflation interruptions made worse by increasingly erratic weather and increasingly erratic regulations and arrogant government.
This coming Energy Depression.
An open letter to Nicholas D. Kristof, regarding his opinion piece in the New York Times, Is an Egg for Breakfast Worth This?
I read your article on egg laying operations in today’s “modern agribusiness” economy.
On the one hand, I think you left out some of the ways that the US Dept of Agriculture has created and pushed the “productive” nature of what used to be called farming. Current and past farm programs, as well as banker-initiated agendas, have stressed production over ethics, over concerns about chemical use, and about concerns for the neighbors and environment.
On the other hand, Americans have had and do have the alternative of searching out the local folk that raise chickens in a more traditional manner — with the more traditional rates of loss to predators from foxes and opossums and skunks and from feral and unfettered neighbor dogs and cats. Consumers still have and have long had the option to buy the locally raised eggs, produce, and meats. But they have to afford them, and discern who they buy from.
Modern advertising implies that any store that sells Oreo cookies means you get the one and only Oreo cookie wherever you buy it. Ads that Eggs are the “perfect” food imply the same.
I do warn you, that history shows prohibiting various practices and products, from drugs to dog fights, shows that it merely increases supply and profits, and creates criminal enterprises to exploit them.
Regulation of the milk industry has assured that factory milk farms meet Federal standards. Which means that the number of people actually milking cows for sale of milk and milk products has been reduced heroically — if one of them falls on hard times, or the wrong family member or worker is incapacitated, a significant source of milk will be threatened.
You might ask why the massive egg farms. You might also look into existing Federal regulations that force the small producer to get big or quit.
As economic troubles, from the national debt to lingering toxic assets bolstering the financial foundations of some American banks, to constraints on world production of oil and corrupt Federal promotion of “green” energy — expect shortages. Shortages of credit to businesses and to consumers has been downplayed, and so far has been quite local. I expect that to spread.
The big egg producers don’t have a large enough profit margin to tolerate a doubling of electricity costs, or a doubling of the cost to transport birds and eggs to and fro. Yet our President has set the wheels in motion to multiply electricity costs to bring the average cost up to the cost of (expensive) wind and solar power. The cost of oil since 2005 has been a function of speculation, not production, when production stopped increasing to moderate or take advantage of changes in price.
We need the local producers that are less reliant on intercontinental systems of operation and supply. The big egg producers, the national level producers of most products, but especially food, are facing, potentially, circumstances that will end their operations. Factors such as intermittent outages (i.e. the “smart grid”, where Washington, D.C. turns off one state or region to supply another, except for those “exempt” — campaign contributors, those “too big to turn off”, perhaps) and the rising costs of energy and intercontinentally sourced products and also the rising costs of meeting various Federal regulations (remember the Food Safety Administration starting to come online? ) will be threatening the business sector as well as communities and cities. And threaten people used to reliably available food at moderate cost.
It has been said that the wealthy can afford ethics. It might be observed that the “war on poverty” has manufactured the illusion that all Americans are wealthy, that all are entitled to the housing, the clean-hands work (or indolence) of the wealthy. How many Americans have “cleaned” the fish they caught, then prepared and shared the meal with family or friends? How many have butchered their own chicken, or hog? (My parents cleaned our chickens, we took the cows and calves to a local butcher). Most Americans have never grown a potato, and eaten the result (one of the easiest foods). How many Americans, today, have canned peaches and pork, so that it would be available months in the future?
I don’t recommend poverty as a life style. I do think that WWII put a lot of farm boys, and men that worked hard in cities, in factories, and in transportation, on the front lines against some powerful enemies. It might be that the very illusion of affluence is a serious threat to national security — and a threat to our national economy. The average age of today’s farmers is 55-60 years old. Since we don’t have a next-generation farmer waiting to continue producing food, it might well be that concern over the egg mills of today is misplaced. Wait ten years, there may not be many still producing eggs.
I don’t eat a lot of eggs. I have three hens in the back yard, two of them Bantams, that keep way ahead of my egg use. It is fairly easy to keep chickens — but takes years to learn to do it reliably. And it means finding someone to do the chores if I am away for 12 hours or more. It takes good fencing to keep predators, including the neighbor dogs, from killing the livestock that deserves my protection.
My neighbor bought a cow — that jumps fences. That loves to munch on my garden. More fencing. Which makes me wonder about all the scrap metal my neighbors are selling for export to China. I doubt America has budgeted the energy that was so cheap when that metal was first produced — to replace the metal to build fences. And cars. And bridge and building supports that need replacing.
When you advocate federal regulations to “solve” a problem, you actually mean to create an industry to exploit those regulations, to build the new barns at increased cost to “meet new regulations”, to build new equipment to meet changing requirements. To increase costs to continue to operate, and increase the benefits to those that operate outside the law. To expend more energy that is now less cheap, to continue to do what we do today.
I can think of many reasons for consumers to choose locally produced produce, food, furniture, building materials and practices, etc. Bringing Federal regulations into the argument hasn’t been notoriously successful in the past.
Last summer I didn’t get around to hacking down the Johnson Grass growing along the barn, in the pasture, and in the yard behind the barn. So every once in a while, when the tops towered over the pony, I got out the scythe and laid some down. Then a day or two later, I turned it, then came back with the wheel barrow, fork, and a ball of garden (sisal) twine. Gather a bundle on top of the wheel barrow, stretch a span of twine around and snug it tight, and call it a “bale” (though it looks more like a ragged bundle with a string around the middle). I stacked it in the barn “for now”, on some boards I have been saving, and I think there are some extension cords and air hoses under there, too.
I figured, hey, I can flip a bundle, er, bale, over the fence to the pony every day or two, and we can eak out the winter that way.
The last month when the first frost was due, I looked behind the barn and there was all this half-grown Johnson grass just waiting to lose most of it’s nutrients when the frost hit. So the day before the frost I scythed a bunch. I am not getting younger, I don’t do physical stuff all that often, and I get tired, so a “bunch” isn’t like taking down a 20 acre hay meadow. More like about 20 or 25 minutes of huffing and puffing.
I had read about hay stacks, and you you need to do them correctly to keep the hay from spoiling before you can use it. And I looked. A neighbor claimed he played in haystacks a lot as a boy, but never learned to build one. I found an online story where a guy build a frame using four “uprights” leaning to the center where they were bolted together, a frame build about the ground and bolted to the uprights, and used a plastic tarp over the hay instead of doing the traditional haystack building. This story intended to add to the stack over the season, which you don’t do with a traditional hay stack.
I have a hay ring. This is a round steel ring a couple of feet high with eight loops that make eight openings for horses to get to the hay. You roll the thing on edge up to a round hay bale (5×6 foot, nominal), cut the strings/net from the bale, and drop the ring around the bale. The point is to keep the horses from pulling the bale apart and trampling much of the bale instead of eating it.
I have a hay ring, and some used boards. I set two 2×6 boards, on edge, between feeding spots, so the boards are parallel and maybe 5 feet apart. I laid four 2×4 boards crosswise on the 2×6′s to nearly touch the edges of the ring. And I forked that downed, dried Johnson grass onto my new “hay stack”. It turns out that “a bunch” of Johnson grass, when I am scything, doesn’t make that much of a stack on an 8′ diameter. Maybe 6′ high in the middle of the mound (remember, the bottom is already 2′ up off the ground). I tied a plastic tarp over it, using cotton sash cord to tie to the hoops of the hay ring.
The tarp fell.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the cords, which had been at the top of the hoops, were now near the bottom (nearly level with the bottom boards). The mound looked a little flatter, and was definitely shorter. And the pony? Showed a bit less rib than before The Great Haystack Improvisation.
Last weekend I untied part of the tarp, and plumped down three of the bundles, er, bales, from the barn in the middle of the stack. Well, middle, right. Johnson grass gets to be six to eight foot tall, and in casually stacked, ragged bundles I gathered, they stick out both ends. So the bundles were plumper in the middle of the stack/hay ring, but were right there at the edges. Anyway, I cut the baling twine, er, garden twine, retied the tarp, and the pony has been munching right along. It was empty today, and I put out two more bales. Er, bundles.
I put up hay a bunch at a time, and the grass is usually growing by late February/into March, so I don’t need *all* that much more hay. But the five-ten bundles I gathered each haying exercise makes big stacks in the barn. And the bales I have fed so far make a noticeable dent.
Small square grass hay bales are going for $8.50 each, now, if you can find any. There isn’t much here, and most of the time the price is much higher. The round grass hay bales that sold for $25-40 last year have sold for $135-150, and can be tough to find.
So I am glad the pony is doing OK with the Johnson grass, I am pleased that the tarp hasn’t blown to pieces in the wind, and seems to adjust it’s tie-downs as the pile gets smaller, and I am surprised that the Hackney pony doesn’t mind munching hay from under the flappy blue tarp.
I would have fretted myself a treat if I had planned this to come together this well.
But she does outline some important lessons for living a frugal and sustainable life. “Little House on the Prairie” stories nicely illustrate the 10 lessons she found.
So I got to thinking. How much sod does it take to make a sod house or sod hut? If you life in a sod house, do you bite your tongue instead of observing, “Dear, there seems to be something growing on the wall.”??
Can you use straw bales for insulation and structure with a sod house? If you drop a bit of sod, and it breaks, does that make you a sodbuster?
Should the roof on a sod house be sod, thatch, or should it be rock (slate)?
Do you paint a sod house, or water it?
Yes, I am being facetious. Well, mostly. The questions might sound silly, but I do kinda want to know. And I figure the amount of sod needed “depends”. Like, how thick the sod is where you dig it up. Like how wide you make your walls. Like how big you want the structure, and how many rooms, I guess.
And is building sod houses where the phrase comes from, “Oh, sod it all!”??
I don’t use a lot of hay. My pony gets a round bale October/November, and that usually lasts until grass starts growing. So I want a bit to tide over rough spots.
A few years back I welded up a hay storage bin. About 5 feet square, and a bit over six feet high, whatever would fit out the shop door. I used 3/4 inch square tubing for the frame, and 2×4 welded wire for three sides, with the front open above a ‘keeper’ bar about 1 foot up. This worked pretty well with loose hay.
Where I live is old-growth pasture. The local story goes that it was virgin prairie, and has never been plowed. After 70 years of grazing pasture use, I doubt that there is much original prairie grass left, and Johnson Grass has moved in around the buildings and in the pony’s pasture. Johnson grass was introduced to Oklahoma for hay and pasture, and does well at both. The problem with Johnson Grass is that it is very persistent if you want something else to grow there, and it tends to spread. Widely.
So what I have around the buildings to harvest is a mix of short grasses including cheat, and Johnson Grass, mostly, and a few patches of bermuda grass, sometimes occupying the same space. Next to the driveway is a solid stand of Johnson Grass. When I cut it early, it comes in solid bermuda. Cut that, and it is Johnson Grass again. But it mostly stays green. . .
I have a book on ‘farm implements you can make’, from the 1800s, that shows a wood frame for baling hay. This spring I got to thinking, and got out the two-hand scythe a friend cobbled up out of stainless tubing and regular handles and a brush blade.
The first part of making hay, after the planning and hoping, and watching the grass grow, is cutting. I am still learning to use the scythe, but I did manage to put down some short and tall grasses.
Next is curing. Curing is when sufficient moisture leaves the hay leaves and stalks, so that the hay is dry enough to store well, keep it’s nutrition value and not decompose. Hay put up too damp can rot, and at times generates enough heat to catch fire.
The sun and open are do the curing. I leave the hay a day or so, depending on the condition of the hay and weather, then get out the hay fork (four tines, wider than a three tine or manure fork) and turn the hay so the stuff on the bottom is exposed to that curing sun and breeze.
For short stem hays, a day or so after turning the hay may be ready. Long and coarser stem hays may take another day or three, and another turn or two.
Almost anticlimactic is gathering the hay and tossing it in storage (for loose hay) or baling.
Dad baled hay, and my neighbors bale hay. This includes a tractor, and first a mower or conditioner, then a rake, and finally a baler. The result is, usually, a very consistent stream of round or square bales laid out in the field, to be gathered and stacked until needed.
I don’t have that kind of equipment. I have a ball of Sisal twine, a blue plastic muck bucket, a box knife, and a hay fork.
Using the same fork I used to turn the hay, I laid some hay on the bucket and pushed it down in, about centered. A couple-three modest forks full, and it is time to mash the center of the bundle of grass together, grab one end of the twine and reach down one side of the hay to the bottom, reach down from the other side of the grasses to the bottom of the bucket, grab that twine, and pull it on around. A quick (!) square knot while mashing the center of the bundle together and pulling the twine tight, and cut off the bale of hay. Lift the bale out (it looks a lot like a bundle of grass with a string around the center), and repeat.
When I tried it using the wheel barrow instead of the muck bucket, it was easier. The wheel barrow allowed for a bit bigger bale (fewer baling operations), and reaching around the bundle was easier than stuffing my arms into the muck bucket full of hay.
The hay fork is useful transporting the bales, too, as I can usually stick the tines through two stacked bales. I estimate the bales range between small muck bucket size, about two pounds of short grasses, and maybe ten pounds for a moderate sized wheel barrow bale. Toss them into the hay bin, and let them complete airing out.
My problem with Johnson Grass hay is the weather. We have been getting rain showers with little accumulation, just enough to wet everything, and that delays curing. This isn’t great, because the wet/dry cycles are letting the sun bake out the nutrients in the hay, and keeping the moisture up so I cannot gather the hay yet.
The pony stands about three feet, five inches. Johnson Grass runs from four feet to seven feet. The pony likes to nibble the tender ends of the grass. So fully grown Johnson Grass doesn’t feed the pony that well. Where I have cut the Johnson Grass, the new-growing returning stems are short, and the pony (“Little One”) gets a better nibble in. And I get (some) hay put by for later, if it is needed.
I reckon that gathering hay is something folks with livestock could be considering. Hay from along fence lines, along unkempt roadways, on unused lots. Chickens will eat some hay, and use it for bedding, hogs eat hay and use the bedding, cows, goats, and sheep, too. Learning to hay takes practice to learn the grasses you harvest, the tools you use, the process and exceptions of curing, and the techniques for transporting and storing hay.
I turn 59 this year, with back pains and lowering heat tolerance. Gathering in fields at a time is for the young folk. I don’t have a lot of storage, and find the hour or two a day very satisfying (that is, I don’t want more, at the time).
The sisal twine I got from Big Lots, in the garden section. It is light, strong, and traditional for haying. The fork I picked up at a farm sale, a treasure that too many people decided isn’t needed, since they went to crops-only, or automated livestock farming. A modern three tine fork can run from $30 to $40 dollars, hay forks and the larger field hay forks would be much more expensive.
Last year I sharpened the scythe blade with a flap sanding disk on my angle grinder. Last winter I ordered a ‘scythe stone’ from Amazon.com, and it works a wonder. The package the stone came in mentioned wrapping the stone in cloth. I whacked out a six inch wide strip from the leg of a pair of rag-bag bib overalls, about two and a half times the length of the stone (about 10 inches by 1 1/2 inches). I lay the stone in the center of the cloth, lengthwise, and fold the top and bottom over, then the sides. I can stick that wrapped bundle in my pocket for convenience; the stone unwrapped would catch and hang in my pocket something fierce.