Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Round hay balesI was going to start a series of posts today on putting up hay. But it rained. So we couldn’t mow. This got me to thinking about the old saying “Make hay while the sun shines’. I never had trouble understanding the phrase but some people do. I remember our minister mentioning it in a sermon. He didn’t know what it meant. I could be real cute and say that you make hay while the sun shines because you can’t make it at night (here in the mid-west). But I won’t be a smart a$#, this time. So what to do when you want answers? Google it, right. I mean, I have to check the authority to see if I’m correct. So what did I find?

Meaning

Make the most of one’s opportunities while you have the chance.

Origin

This proverb is first recorded in John Heywood’s A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, 1546:

Whan the sunne shinth make hay. Whiche is to say.
Take time whan time cometh, lest time steale away.

Many proverbs exist in other languages, but this one doesn’t and it’s a reasonable surmise that the phrase is of English Tudor origin.

Of course, mediaeval farmers would be as well aware of the wisdom of not leaving it too late to gather one’s hay. Modern machinery and weather forecasting make haymaking reasonably quick and stress-free. Tudor farmers would have taken several days to cut, dry and gather their hay and would have had only folk rhymes like red sky at night to guide them. Forecasting the weather two or three days in advance wouldn’t have been possible, so all the more reason for them to ‘make hay while the sun shines’.         source

 

I love that old English. It’s so historical. And I must point out that it is still impossible to forecast the weather. The old weather proverbs are still better at predictions than those paid to do it. Anyway. So the answer to “Why make hay while the sun shines” is because it might rain tomorrow. That should clear it up for everyone.

As soon as it dries out and we get to putting some hay down, I’ll take some video to take you through the process. And I’ll show you our latest big purchase. I told William it clashes with the rest of them. Can you guess what it is?