Let's make hay

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ|January 2020

Let's make hay
The haymaking ritual is as Kiwi as the berry jam and pikelets Lynda Hallinan dishes up to weary workers.
Lynda Hallinan
Summer: no other season smells quite like it. The quintessential Kiwi summer is redolent with ripening peaches, plums and heritage raspberries, blackened sausages on the barbie, fishing trips on the briny and hokey pokey ice-cream melting all over the back seat of the car. And in the country, summer also smells of wild honeysuckle, houhere, heliotrope, hot compost heaps, homemade jam and freshly cut hay.

In summer, the grass isn’t greener on the other side of rural fences. It’s as brown as free-range egg shells, especially in paddocks locked up for hay. For when the fresh chlorophyll of spring fades to 50 shades of beige and the nation’s haymaking contractors clear their social calendars and start chugging out thousands of bales, you know summer has officially arrived.

As a kid growing up on a dairy farm in the northern Waikato, I loved the annual ritual of haymaking. When the long-range forecast promised at least three sunny days in a row, the grass was cut, raked and turned, then windrowed as high as an ’80s blowwave before Leonard, the local baling contractor, got the call. While Mum milked the cows, and Dad and his mates hauled the bales to the shed, my sister and I ferried out trays of cheese toasted sandwiches, hot pikelets and crates of ice-cold DB.

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January 2020