What the Hay? Sustainable farming thrives in Romania
A culture of sustainable farming
From the northern Romanian Maramureş, to the central Romanian-Hungarian provinces and the Romanian villages occupied by German-speaking Saxons, millions of people in Romania work on farms. But most Romanian farming operations use medieval farming practices, and Transylvanian farmers have some of the lowest incomes in Europe. Herds are small, yields are low, but self-sufficiency is high:
• The average farm is eight acres.
• More than 60 percent of the milk produced in the country comes from farms with only two or three cows.
• Most of this milk is consumed by the farm that produced it.
Farming in Romania is hard work
In winter, one cow eats four or more tons of hay. That amount of hay needs up to five acres of ground to grow. The hay could take ten hot, hard days to mow.
If you're mowing alone and with a scythe, as still happens over large areas of the uplands, three cows mean a month of mowing!
Each piece of hay must be handled ten or more times! The farmers complete the following process each time they harvest a crop of hay:
1. Mow the hay.
2. Rake the mown stems into small heaps.
3. Spread the heaps in the next day's sun to dry.
4. Turn the hay again to dry in the sun.
5. Gather the hay into a haystack in the field.
6. Load the hay onto a cart.
7. Drive the hay down to the homestead.
8. Feed hay to the horses.
9. Feed hay to the cows.
10. Store the leftover hay in the barn.