After the grass is cut and laying in nice neat swaths all over the field the next step in the process of making hay is raking. The time between swathing (once the grass is initially cut) to the time it can be raked and baled varies and depends a lot on weather factors like the amount of sunshine and wind. Both of these factors greatly increase the drying process, so the hay can be raked. In previous years we would only use the rake if the hay got rained on during the drying process because the rake flips the windrow over so air and get at the under side that was touching the ground. However, we have started raking all our fields because we rake 2 windrows into one so there is less time that needs to be spent baling because we are reducing the number of windrows that need to be picked up by the baler in half. Another reason we started doing that is that we figured a rake costs a lot less money than a baler, so it was better to put more hours and wear and tear on the rake than the baler. Raking is a pretty easy job and I have been doing it for a very long time because it was the first job we started on as kids, when we were learning how to operate equipment. This year dad told me I did a perfect job raking because the windrows were the exact same size as the pick up of the baler (where hay goes into the baler to form a bale), so it was easy to bale. That was a huge compliment for me, my dad is a man of few words and few compliments, so that one meant a lot.
This is a picture to show the different windrows, ones that have been raked together (two windrows raked into one) and the original windrows that the swather leaves in the field. The windrows closest to the tractor in this picture have not yet been raked you can see they are a bit flatter and wider and the ones further to the left of the picture have been raked they are fluffier looking.