'Old Haymaker' makes for great haying weather

Craig Mattson operates one of the Sotka's two round balers.

NASELLE - The "Old Haymaker" - many days of mostly uninterrupted sunshine - has brought out the haymakers in full force in the Naselle and Grays River valleys.

Sotka's Eden Valley Ranch is by far the largest haymaking outfit in the area, as father Norman, son Darrel, and numerous relatives make hay all the way from the Eden Valley to the lower Naselle. The Sotkas also cut and bale hay in the Deep River and Salmon Creek areas.

Norman Sotka said that they have already put about 180 tons (600 bales at 600 pounds each) of round bales of dry hay in the barn and they expect to put up about 690 tons (2,300 bales) before they are through for the season.

The Sotka farm has been in the same family for 110 years, and it is truly a family enterprise. On the day that this information was gathered, there were four family members, grandpa Norman, son Darrel, son-in-law Craig Mattson of Naselle, and granddaughter Jenni of Vancouver, as well as Jenni's boyfriend Kyle Isaak of Yakima, operating four tractors, a 10-foot cut mower, two rakes, a tractor-mounted loader for loading round bales, and a truck pulling a gooseneck lowboy trailer. All of this activity was taking place on two farms in the Naselle valley with the hay baling taking place on the Walter Anderson farm.

Other haymakers in the area who are "making hay while the sun shines" include Pete Hunter, who also puts up hay in the round bale format, Kenny Kandoll, Bob Ziesmer, Hank Nelson, Bob Burkhalter, and Joel Fitts, all who either use the older square bales method or the new round bales system.

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