Making hay bales in the South Country

While many of us spend our summer days at the lake the South Country farmers are hard at work bringing in their hay crops.

By Anthony Dransfeld

 

While many of us spend our summer days at the lake or on the Elk River staying cool, the South Country farmers are hard at work bringing in their hay crops.

There are many farms and ranches growing hay around Jaffray, Bull River, Elko, Wardner, Grasmere and Roosville.

Jim Durham has been farming in Jaffray for 75 years. These days his farm is pretty much a family affair with his wife Hazel, and daughters Roberta and Debbie all involved with ‘getting the hay in’ (the boys Mack and Greg both have full time jobs and pitch in on their days off.) Jim has about 100 head of cattle and bales mostly round bales on 250 acres, which requires a great deal of irrigation. Daughter Debbie is a high school principal in Prince Rupert and comes down for the summer to help her parents and sister. Roberta and Debbie do the cutting, raking and running the baler. Both girls are excellent at running the farm machinery so their dad Jim lets them ‘have at ‘er.’ Bales pretty much come in two sizes, 800 pound rolled bales (for cattle) and the traditional square bale weighing 55 pounds for horses.

Breakdowns are part of the game when doing volume haying. This summer many farmers in and around Jaffray are having tractor tires, that cost $600 each, blow up or go flat. Long winters in the East Kootenays make hay a valuable commodity, which is why there is an old saying ‘make hay while the sun shines.’ Jim Durham admits to slowing down a bit in recent years. Fortunately the Durhams have Debbie, Roberta, Mack and Greg to keep their hay rolling in the barns.

Hazel Durham celebrated her 82nd birthday last Sunday.