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little later. So far as my observation extends, there is more loss from cutting hay too late than too early, owing to the destruction caused by rust, rather than natural ripeness, in some cases; and in others by the early decay of certain forage plants often mixed with grass.
The best hight to cut hay is, to shave as snug to the ground as possible, because we get more; though I think that herdsgrass roots will endure longer, if we leave a high stubble.
Have used different horse rakes in former years; like the “independent” the best; but latterly make less use of one where grass is light, because they scratch up considerable “ dirt,” leave some of the finest particles of hay behind, and considerable time is necessarily consumed in getting the horse from the pasture at a busy season of the day. We now use the hand drag rake on light grass if we are not particularly hurried. If we operated with a mowing machine or a great gang of mowers, we should use the independent horse rake altogether.
You ask if we use hay caps. We do; and find the advantage great. For instance : last season, we cocked up a lot of hay on Saturday night and capped it. Sunday forenoon it began to rain, and it continued wet and lowery for five days. On the return of fair weather we found the capped hay bright. Other cocks in the vicinity uncapped, were soaked through and blackened, so that it was not worth half price. Good hay was worth here last spring, eighty cents per hundred. If an expenditure of twenty-five cents for a hay cap, saved forty cents worth of hay in that one storm, it must be apparent to the most obtuse, that it paid. The cap is simply a square of cotton cloth (fifty-four inches) with a stone in each corner. Have used salt, but am not satisfied that it is advantageous in saving the hay. In former years, while living in the vicinity of salt marshes, I have noticed that hay cut thereon, though much salter than I wish to make my fodder, needed drying to preserve it. But my experiments on this point have not been very minute.
Perhaps the farmer who has a good deal of hay to cut, loses little or nothing by beginning a little before grass has attained its “best estate ;” because such fodder is “loosening” and acts medicinally upon stock; and if fed out during our long winters, judiciously, proves as valuable as if all the fodder was more matured. And if a portion of his grass has pretty well ripened its heads before he
can cut it, in many cases the growth of the “bottom,” with the provender in the seed, will nearly compensate for the loss on the stalks which have ripened.”
By E. K. FRENCH, CHESTERVILLE. “With regard to hay-making, I will give my own practice. In curing herdsgrass or redtop, I cut and spread out evenly in the forenoon, rake
up and cock in the afternoon, open the next forenoon sufficiently to finish drying by noon, and then get in. Late in the season we not unfrequently cut and get in the same day. This kind of hay should be sufficiently dry to keep perfectly sweet without salt or lime, a point too often neglected by farmers when they begin haying. Clover, let remain in the swath till about sunset, then turn over, exposing the green side to the dew-rake and cock the next day and let it remain in cock till it requires little, or better, no drying to prepare it for getting into the barn. For neat stock, there should be sufficient moisture left in the hay to cause it to mat together well; the cattle seem to relish it better than when dry.
If I could have all my grass cut when I wanted it, it would be immediately after the bulk of the grass was out of blossom--when the seed is said to be “full in the milk." Then the plant has perfected itself—the juices of the stalk are matured, and, as the seed is developed, these will be consumed to the detriment of the former. Hay that is cured too early is wanting in substance. Cattle cannot perform so much labor, or keep in so good heart, as when fed upon the hay from fully matured grasses.
If grass be cut before the second crop starts, the roots are much more likely to be sunburnt than when a vigorous undergrowth has commenced. We have had some pieces of " new ground" nearly destroyed by cutting too early, and I may here remark that the second crop starts up about the time the first goes into blossom. I give it as my opinion that double the loss is sustained by cutting grass too early than by cutting too late, for in the late cutting we always have the benefit of the undergrowth which at the time of early cutting has not appeared.
From observation of the effect produced, I am of the opinion that grass should not be cut off below the lower joint, say two inches in hight When cut close to the root, the heat of the sun parches it up, and in a measure kills them out. I have seen instances of this
repeatedly on our own farm, and am satisfied close cutting was the cause.
Clover hay, cured as before described, requires about four quarts of salt to the ton, but other kinds when properly dried are better without the salt than with it. It was formerly our practice to use salt with all kinds of hay, but latterly we prefer to mix clean, dry straw, if we have it, with hay that is not sufficiently made to pack down by itself.
We have not top-dressed either our grass or pasture lands to any extent, but intend to do so as soon as my arrangements for that can be carried into effect. I have graded my barn-yard of a gradual slope from the back side of it to the bottom of the manure vaults, so that all the wash is carried directly to them, and by means of a drain leading to the side-hill I can irrigate two or three acres in this manner, or by closing the mouth of it, allowing only the surplus to escape; and by means of a pump placed in each vault, I intend to pump the water up into sprinklers to be carried out and distributed over the grass land. I think that pastures are not cared for enough, but are allowed to be overrun with bushes, briars and thistles. They should be kept clean as a mowing field.”
By J. 0. KYES, North Jay. “In curing herdsgrass and redtop, I mow in the forenoon and in the afternoon rake it and put in bunches of seventy-five poundsput caps on and let them stand until the next forenoon after the dew is off, then open and as soon as it is dry enough get it in. Clover I let stand in bunches one or two days before I open it; prefer to cut my grass when it is full in bloom ; cut four or five inches from the ground, or high enough to keep the sun from drying the roots so as to kill them. Early cut hay is worth from two to four dollars per ton more than late cut. For hay caps I get common cotton cloth, one and a half yards wide, and take a square of it, make eyelet holes, in each corner put a string six inches long, fasten to them a stick eighteen inches in length, and my caps are made. I think hay caps pay for themselves on an average, as often as once in two years.”
BY JAMES WALKER, FRYEBURG. “ If grass is the only object, I would sow grass seed alone; but to prepare the land for a good crop of hay, it is necessary to man
ure and cultivate, and the quickest return for this is by a grain crop; for we put on a very moderate quantity of seed. Wheat is the best for spring sowing, and winter rye for autumn sowing.
We have on the Saco river, large tracts of low meadows and intervales, which yield various grasses both wild and cultivated, the hay from which is from a third to three fourths the value of English hay, and affords a pretty good security against short crops of that. On these natural meadows, where permanency is required, too early cutting is very injurious, especially in dry seasons, by exposing the surface of the ground to the scorching sun. general rule, four inches is the best hight at which to cut, because the stubble protects the roots from the hot sun by day, and retains the moisture at night.
When I can have hay well dried, salt should not be used. Too much salt is injurious to cattle in winter, and I prefer salting cattle in some other way.
Horse rakes of various kinds are used in this vicinity; the revolver for smooth lands, is best ; spring tooth for rough ground. A good horse rake well managed, is equal to six or seven men with common hand rakes. I furnished a partial supply of hay caps this year, four feet square, which answered a good purpose, at an expense of twenty cents each, but have had very little use for them, this season, unless to prevent the hay from drying too much.
I have made two under drains, thirty five or forty rods cach, in length, with decided advantage every way. It took up a quantity of worthless stones with which I made the drain which carried off the surplus water admirably. Wet meadows are very much benefited by ditching. If proper attention was given to ditching and underdraining, I venture to say that West Oxford would be as good a hay country as any other of the same extent of territory, within the State. I see no reason why the raising of sheep in this region, would not be as profitable as any where else in Maine. If rightly attended to, they can be kept wholly on what we call meadow hay in winter, and on our hill-side pastures in summer. I have come to the conclusion, after actual and careful observation, that corn fodder is worth more for the winter food of sheep, than for any other cattle. Give me low meadow hay of the right sort, with corn fodder for a change, and I can keep sheep, in large or small flocks, in good condition, without other feed."
By Cyrus R. MORTON, UNION. “At a meeting of the Farmers' Club of this place, to consider some of the questions of your circular, it was decided, that it was better to seed grass lands in spring, and as early as possible, sowing grain also, (wheat the best.)
Two methods of curing Timothy and Redtop were advocated: first, by spreading out the first day and cocking up at night; open the next day and make just enough to keep in the barn. The other, to make it in the cock-a small majority in favor of the first mode.
Two methods of curing clover also : first, by letting it remain in the swath the first day, turning it at night; the next day cock it up, and haul it in the third day; and next, to mow one day and haul in the next, putting a peck of salt to the ton—about the same majority in favor of the first method. A minority believed that it is best to cut as soon as the seed is formed—being more hearty and nutritious. The majority were in favor of cutting when in bloom, as cattle like it better, the hay will do them more good and the future crops are better for early cutting, and the grass holds out longer.
Decided unanimously to cut as close as possible—as more hay is obtained, and the roots less liable to die out.
Use Paschal's patent revolving horse rake, with a saving of three fourths of the labor. The Kent's patent spring tooth rake saves a third of the labor.
To top dress with three cords of manure and a bushel of plaster to the acre, will increase the crop one half, on poor mowing:
It is very injurious to feed off mowing fields."
By Samuel BUTMAN, PLYMOUTH. “From my experience in seeding to grass, I much prefer the spring. I have seeded several times in September, and sometimes with good success; but nearly one half the seasons, it has proved an entire failure. I have seldom, if ever, failed of a fair crop of grass, when seeding down in the spring.
I think it safe to sow grass seed with grain ; but I prefer wheat or barley to any other kind. I am unable to state why grass succeeds with me better, when sown with wheat or barley, than with any other kind of grain.
In curing my Herdsgrass and Redtop, I uniformly give it the