It’s that time of year and the lower hayfield has been ready for several weeks. We looked at the weather map this morning and wondered about the highs over Wisconsin and if they would be enough to keep the moisture away. Over coffee we decided to take down the lower field. More than twelve hours later and with the dinner dishes cleaned the forecast looks good. A number of dark clouds passed overhead this afternoon but the skies have cleared and the sun is winking at me as it drops behind the mountains above us. When the morning dew has lifted I will wait until the sun strengthens and the winds combine to dry the exposed surface of the harvested crop. I will then rake the field by flipping each windrow to expose its damp, green, underside to the sun and that will be all I can do tomorrow – one must not rush the making of dry grass hay. I will spend the morning on Thursday greasing the baler and refueling the 1520. The latter is underpowered for what I will ask it to do later that afternoon; it will struggle and blow streams of black smoke when it travels up hill with a loaded bale chamber. It will relax going down hill and on the flat. The Vermeer baler will work its fortieth season and I have come to an unspoken understanding with it … I grease it, maintain its many bearings, watch the oil in the gearbox, and attend to the trailing bits which stream from the belts as they wear with each new bale … and it works very, very hard. Now that the cows are gone we have surplus bales from last year and from the year before. I will need to find a home for those to make room for the new bales that I will stack in the lean-to on Friday morning. This is how we make hay. This is how we’ve made hay. This is how we will continue to make hay … it’s what we do … it is ritual.