Cliff mowed the alfalfa Sunday afternoon. After hay has been mown (mowed?), it has to just lay there to dry out and cure for two or three days. Once it's sufficiently dry (and there's a fine line here between too damp and too dry) it has to be raked. In hot summer weather, usually the hay is ready to be baled within two or three hours of raking. If alfalfa hay is allowed to get too dry, the leaves fall off when it's raked; the leaves are where the most valuable nutrients are found.
But rain can enter the picture and change things in so many ways: for instance, if it rains while the hay is laying on the ground curing, and then the skies clear up for a couple of days, sometimes you can salvage alfalfa hay. The quality isn't the best, but it's still good hay. If the hay is raked and then rains come, the picture isn't so bright. Most often, that hay is tossed into a convenient ditch.
So Cliff had to make a decision this morning. The hay seemed ready to rake, but there's possible rain coming tonight. Should he leave it alone so that if it does rain, we might get some second-class hay? Or should he rake it and hope we don't get the rain? It's cool today, and going to be cooler. That doesn't make for fast hay-curing.
Now, if he didn't have to go to work this afternoon, he'd no doubt be able to bale before the storms. However, he can't take any more vacation days off this year without prior notice.
So all we can do is hope the rains don't materialize. Thank God we don't make our living at this!
(Oh, about the book I chose to read first: Vital Signs, by Robin Cook. It already holds me captive.)