PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Haying is underway, and I'm following the clouds. Where I wander I see hillsides dotted with shining hay bales or lined with furrows that catch shadows when the sun is low. I used to think it was a simple thing, haying. Most farmers where I live get two hayings a season and watch the weather closely when cutting time arrives. The hay must be baled dry. If it rains after cutting the hay can be ruined. I watch and try to move with their rhythm.
My efforts are crossed by new routines. Farmers making silage to feed their livestock can get three or four hayings because they cut it wet. Farmers who cut late ask me to sample and compare the lightness and softness of their hay, and I will never settle for coarse hay again. I've heard the arguments for square bales vs. round bales and for kinds of wrappers or none at all, and I remain decidedly unconvinced. I heard of a man who, "in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay." (see footnote 12 in the appendix)
Painted skies like this are rare. The clouds say come follow us to the hay bales that can only sit and watch and season in the field as the farmer bids.