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Small scale haying workshop on Saturday

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DEXTER — Having trouble harvesting a small amount of hay for your few animals? Ever wonder how people mowed, raked, gathered and stored grasses before modern fossil-fuel run equipment? Saturday morning June 10, Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) will sponsor a small-scale haymaking workshop to demonstrate simple hand tools that run on whatever you had for breakfast, as well as a small gasoline powered sickle bar mower.

The old pattern of haying by hand went this way: Mow in the dawn of day one, spread (“ted”) the mown grasses out for the sun to dry for the rest of that day, then just before the dew falls in the late afternoon rake the tedded grass back into windrows. Morning of day two, rake open yesterday’s windrows, trying to leave the greener grasses on top to dry in the sun and wind. Afternoon of day two, ideally the grass has dried enough to “make,” so rake one last time into windrows and gather for storage.

Depending on the weather and the thickness of the grass, it may take three days or even more to dry sufficiently. You can see it’s a lot of time and work: no wonder that machinery has become so popular.

However, for the workshop we’ll scythe, ted, rake, gather onto a small hay “rick,” all during Saturday morning to demonstrate how all the actions are done. Whatever we make will wind up being used for mulch or compost for the community garden. If you have them, bring your own scythes, rakes, pitchforks, and small tarps so that we can see why some designs are better than others (our ancestors knew a thing or two about using their muscles wisely).

Scything will begin at 8 a.m. at the Shared Blessing Community Garden in Dexter (part of Fred Sherburne’s farm on Route 23/the Ripley Road), and we hope to wrap up by noon. As with all other DDATT workshops, gathering to share useful rural skills is the main purpose, and we hope people with experience as well as novices come with tools and enthusiasm.

DDATT’s mission is to help our area reduce our use of fossil fuels and create a more stable rural economy. For more information on DDATT and future events, email info@ddatt.org to get on email news list or call 277-4221 or 924-3836.

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