We just finished combining the grass seed. If you are in the NW, you may have noticed fields full of cut something-or-other in nice neat rows. That is some type of grass in one of its many varieties. A swather cuts the grass and then it sits on the ground for awhile and the combine comes along (the big green thing in the pictures) and takes the seed. The chaff is discarded and thrown out the back of the combine. Later, it is raked again into neat piles (now minus the seed) to wait for a baler. The bails of straw have to be hauled off the field for storage for the winter. Most likely, if you've been behind a straw truck you were spattered with little bits of straw and you were irritated. Straw is all over the roads here.
I need to stop for a moment and briefly explain the difference between straw and hay. It took me about 4 years of marriage to a farmer before I knew the difference. I would make jokes like, "Hey, look at that hay." Giggle, giggle. And my husband would say, "That's straw." It was deflating that I had no idea what the difference was between the two. It is actually quite a big deal and not hard to tell them apart with a little knowledge. Hay has the seed still attached and it used for feed and straw is the chaff, the waste that is bailed usually for bedding for animals and can be mixed in for feed. Straw to a cow is like parsley to humans: sure we'll eat it, but come one, give us some real food (i.e., hay).
All of the above swathing, combining, raking, bailing, and hauling requires many, many man hours. I don't contribute by helping with heavy machinery that is worth more than my home, but I do feed the men who work the heavy machinery that is worth more than my home. Our lives revolve completely around food these days. The hard working farmer leaves the house after we eat breakfast and we see him again at lunch after I have made food, packed it, and drove to where he is. We also see him for dinner. This system works good for us at this time of year. Seeing Jeff gives me a break from my other wise extremely long day and it gives the hard working farmer a break from his sometimes monotonous (when everything is working) and sometimes frustrating (when everything is breaking) day. The girls also enjoy it and they enjoy being with daddy doing whatever he is doing. He's home by 10pm, much later than their bed time.
There is no end in site. Next up are wheat and oats. Those don't have to be swathed first, so a step is saved. They are just combined (with the big green machine pictured). The straw is still taken off the field though, but sometimes not. There are times when they disk it in to the ground, but I have no clue why. That will be for another informative post. So now I bet you are sorry you asked about farmin'. You didn't really care did you? You were making conversation? Oh! You were looking for, "Fine," or "You know, we have to make hay while the sun shines" (non-farmers love that one). But see how much you learned, now you won't be embarrassed when you make the "Hey, there's some hay" joke.