Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Making hay on a golf course while the sun shines (video)

New Holland Hay Baler

The $4.1 million of taxpayer’s money sure makes some nice hay. 

Now that the the Countryside golf course has been dormant for over a year there is hay to bale. Bradshaw Road cattle farmer Linwood Caldwell, 76 has baled hay around the golf course for 56 years he said.

In a phone call a few weeks ago he assured me he would be baling hay as soon as it stopped raining. “You tell your neighbors I’ll be over there to clean up that mess,” Caldwell said.

Now he bales hay from the fairways and not just around them.

He was true to his word. On Monday at 7:00 a.m. the hum of a tractor roused me from my slumber. I knew before I peered out the window that it was Caldwell.

The dew was heavy on the grass and I feared it sounded like he was getting bogged down. You could only see the cab of his tractor above the much taller than usual grass. (see the slides below)

He seemed to struggle on his first cut behind my house near the 12th fairway hazard (storm ditch). The sun was barely hitting that part of the fairway and Caldwell’s one-eyed tractor seemed so small. The tires were shiny and wet as he pulled out from the heavy grass.

Once he cut the first round it became much easier. He had cut the entire par five fairway in five hours or less. I returned about noon and he was long gone. The grass lay flat drying in the hot sun.

Tuesday the tractor now raked the grass in neat rows followed by the New Holland hay baler. It seemed effortless as the baler scooped up the grass into the magical bin that rolled it into a huge four-foot roll tied with string.

Hay Baling Magic

I had no idea how the driver knew the hopper was full. But you could tell when it was ready to spit out a roll of hay. The tractor stopped – the baler began to groan and then fell silent. The rear raised up and plop there it was like a newborn baby.

They finished late Tuesday afternoon. The bales dot the landscape that was once a lush green golf course fairway filled with golfers and golf carts.

Caldwell seems in a hurry this year. I recall that at some point the grass becomes “too green.” It does look a little green to me but he sure has literally a ton of it for his first cut this year.

I suspect the bales will be loaded on trailers Wednesday and he’ll be off to other parts of the golf course if he hasn’t finished them already.

Now if Roanoke City would cut the 50 feet around our homes that is much taller now than the fairway. Way over the 10 inches and beginning to lay down. I remember the city workers saying their large lawn tractors are “not bushhogs” and trying to cut really tall grass causes damage.

The neighbors are looking forward to the city’s promise of a greenway, trails and natural landscaping that will heal the damage down to their home values when the golf course closed. They have been hit with a double-whammy – the economy and the market advantage that the golf course provided for their home values.

Realtors touted the new patio homes around the fairways naming the area “Countryside Estates.” Now several sit on the Planning Commission including the original listing company of MKB Realtors Kit Hale. Suddenly the golf course is not a selling point anymore – go figure.

Neighbors are determined that this will be the last year for hay baling and the city will do right by them. Bind the wounds of this neighborhood and repair the damage you have done. That should be your first use of the $1.5 million targeted for the property – and nothing else.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community

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Comments (1)

Susan Hall

June 1st, 2011 at 11:44 AM    

Amen!!! And, thank you farmer Linwood Caldwell. What would we do without you?

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