Thursday, June 4, 2009


All of the warm weather we've had this year has meant the hay is coming in a little earlier than usual. I put up 15 tons a year of local grass hay that I feed to my critters and use for bedding. To get the best price I'm taking it from the field. This is the smart time of the year to buy your forage; it's the lowest price you'll see.

This is the trailer about 2/3rds loaded. We get 5 tons per trailer load. I prefer these small square bales if I can get them at a decent cost because they're easier for a single person to handle and manage. Easier to bed sows than a big round bale or a big square bale.

It's hard, heavy, hot work. Lift the bale, toss onto the trailer. I usually use a crew of 4 to do this; a driver, myself, and two big burly guys. We take turns being the bale tossers and the bale stackers. I pay those guys $15/hour and they earn it. It ends up costing me $0.55/bale to have it picked up in the field and then stacked in my hay barn, which isn't bad.

This years hay is much better quality - the farmer I buy it from is a relatively new farmer, and he's been working hard at producing better forage. This years is cut about perfect; just as the seed heads appeared, and is green and smells great. The hot weather has dried it out perfectly.

When you're loading or unloading bales there's always some that bust; the pigs and cows and sheep all approve of this new hay.
So if you're interested in good quality local hay, I'd recommend Won, at 206-229-0191. His farm is located 2 miles south east of downtown Everett, and he's got 2,000 bales to sell.


StefRobrts said...

Nice, good bales are expensive down here, and a little hard to come by. This year our 4H club found a farmer with the equipment willing to cut and bale for a 60/40 split, so we advertised for fields and had several people donate their fields to us. It's a real break for the 4H families, especially since times are tough on everyone right now. It may not be the highest quality fields, but good enough for the llamas.

Anonymous said...

Does $15 include taxes and benefits?
Do you think this is a good wage?

Bruce King said...

I pay them via 1099 and they're supposed to take care of their individual taxes. I only need extra help a week a year or so, so it doesn't make sense to hire them as W2 employees.

Regarding the wage itself -- in this economy, with unemployment approaching 15%, I get 2 or 3 calls a week from folks who have worked for me in the past to work for this wage. It's 50% more than the state minimum wage of around $9.

Unskilled manual labor has never paid much.