Driving back home after covering a farm-related event in Huntingdon, Tenn., I passed a scenic field of fresh-cut hay. It looked like a great opportunity to gets a few pictures and meet a hard-working farmer as he worked to get it baled.
As I snapped a few images of the him driving the tractor pulling the hay baler, he finally got to the side of the field where I was, stopped and got out. To my surprise it was Johnny Woolfolk.
I met Johnny years ago at a meeting in Memphis when he was a staff member for the Tennessee Farm Bureau. Woolfolk Farms is a family-owned and -operated purebred Hereford and commercial beef cattle operation in Jackson, Tenn., that also specializes in producing and selling high-quality bermudagrass hay.
We talked about the old days, board meetings, and agriculture. He finally looked at me and asked, “Would you like to see something not a lot of people have seen?” You just can’t say no to that kind of invitation.
He knew I was very familiar with cotton production, but asked if I had ever seen a “module” of hay. Of course, I had not.
He drove his tractor down to the other end of the field where his son Scott, who owns the operation, was stationed with a second tractor. Hooked to it was the Bale Baron. Johnny asked Scott to show me how it worked.
After a few trips around the field, I could see how the small square bales were being scooped up through a front chute where they were fed onto a rotating turntable. “A mechanical arm regulates the distance from each bale to prevent jamming,” Scott later explained. “The bales are then pushed into the chamber of the machine using a hydraulic ram.”
Three bales create a row that are pushed back to allow another row of three bales. After seven rows are completed, two rear doors close and apply pressure to the stacked bales. Four wraps of nylon baling twine are used to hold the compressed bales together before the module is pushed out the back of the machine onto the ground. “We bought this one from a farmer in Dresden,” added Woolfolk.
Scott admits that having the Bale Baron is much more efficient than having to load small bales by hand onto a trailer. “You can use an attachment made specifically to pick up the hay module or you can just use a bobcat to load the modules onto a gooseneck trailer,” he says. “It saves us a lot of back-breaking work.”
I guess the Bale Baron is one of those things created when necessity was once again the mother of invention.