Monday 23 November 2020



Hayyyyyyyyyyyyy………..Neelay Gagan ke Taley…..Dharti ka pyar Paley…..


Crooned Mahendra Kapoor in his mellifluous voice  in the 1967 movie Humraaz while Raj Kumar and his lady love struck poses against the backdrop of mountains in colour co-ordinated attire!

Amazingly blue skies  - a welcome sight after months of overcast skies and relentless rains!

I can’t help humming this song as we return back from our Hay collecting expedition.  Every year as soon as the farmers in the surrounding areas  finish harvesting their rice, they look for buyers for their Hay.  Often they get more money for the hay than they get for the rice itself – yes each precious bundle  of hay locally called a Kaat -  that is just thick enough to wrap both your hands around it costs anything between Rs. 8 and  12, depending on the variety of Rice and the quality of Hay.  You see the Red rice  that most farmers grow has shorter hay than the generic white variety.  So the longer hay amounts to more volume hence commands a higher price.  The quality depends on whether the Rain Gods showered the harvested Windrows (Rows of freshly cut Rice which is left out to dry in the fields) and  did not allow the Sun God to dry them out, or whether the Sun God won and helped the poor farmers to salvage their hay!

A Kaat of Hay

Our own hay from our half acre of paddy field is not sufficient to last the whole year for our bovine family.  So after we are done with collecting the hay from our own field and stacking it up, we have to make a couple of visits to neighbouring farms to collect hay from there.

Collecting the hay from our field.

This year, in addition to our pick-up,  we decided to hire a larger vehicle so that the entire lot could be brought in one trip. 

  Loading the bundles onto the vehicle is quite an art and probably an exacting science as well.  You see the Centre of Gravity of the loaded vehicle must be well within its Base of Support or else it may tipple over on the narrow bumpy village roads.  Besides the circumference of the mound of hay on the vehicle should not be far more than the perimeter of the vehicle, else it is difficult to manoever the vehicle when you meet an oncoming vehicle on the road.  And if the oncoming vehicle is also loaded with hay, then ….probably time to burst into another song again!

Some of the overloaded vehicles that we see on the roads!!!

The hay is loaded with one person standing on top of the vehicle and one or more on top of the hay stack.  If it is possible to get the vehicle close enough to the hay stack, then the person from the hay stack can hurl the hay directly onto the vehicle.  The stacking up has to be done carefully else the entire load can slide and collapse during the process.  Our farm hand is good with this and he stands on top of the ever increasing mound expertly catching and arranging the bundles thrown to him. 

  It takes a good hour and half to load all the hay onto the vehicles. Once the loading is done, a long thick rope is wound around the stack and under the special hooks on the sides of the vehicle of the vehicle to secure it in place. 

  Then a slow bumpy ride back to the farm.  The tempo driver is in a hurry as he has another customer who is waiting for him so he wants his vehicle to be  off loaded quickly.  .  It  will take too much  time to cart the hay to the attic above the cow shed so we off load the hay in our drive-way and  relieve  the  vehicle.   The distance from the driveway to the cow shed is not much, but it is uneven due to the heavy rain which has washed away the soil leaving stones, pebbles and rubble on the path. And one has to carry the hay up a ladder to reach the attic above the cow shed.  We are going to need 2 more people to help with this.  It is close to noon now, so we take a break and decide to call 2 additional helpers in the afternoon.  The 2 young boys come in at around 2 pm.  The bunches of hay are tied into lots that can be carried by the boys and they work like a relay carrying the load upto the top of the ladder where our farm hand is waiting to haul it up and stack it neatly in the correct place. It is almost 6 pm by the time the last lot is in place.  The drive way is strewn with bits of hay which the cows enjoy as they walk back into the cow shed. Our attic is full and the cow shed has a warm  smell of hay.

 The cows are content and you might just catch them looking upwards and sighing Hayyyyyyy!

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