Friday, July 27, 2012

The hay situation

The hay situation

I got a call from a neighbor down the road; he'd cut, raked and baled 2,000 small square bales, and wanted to know if I wanted some hay.  Sure, I said, and put together a crew of 6 guys, two trucks and trailers, and a tractor and headed down to his place. 

...only to find that he had 2,000 bales in the field, and no plan on how to get them to the barn.  He's got a bale wagon, but no matter how you cut it, it's not going to get into the barn by itself.  So I had my crews and trucks pick bales out of the field and stack them in his barn.  We stacked 670 bales in 5 hours, but looking at the weather forecast it was for rain the next morning, and in fact it did rain; ruining the 1300 bales that got left out in the field. 

I was glad to help a neighbor out, but a little annoyed that he'd messed around; we had two weeks of very good weather, and he waited until the end of it, and then when he needed help he waited until it was very difficult to help him to ask for help -- and even when he did ask, it wasn't clear to me what the situation was until I got to his farm. 

I wish he had called me a day or two earlier; we could have gotten all 2,000 bales into the barn, or into my barn, and I'd be set for hay for the year -- he's usually the guy I buy from -- but this year it looks like I have to find a new supplier.    This really kills me from the sheer waste of it.  A day or two earlier and I could have had my hay and his hay, and I'd have cheerfully supplied the crew to make it happen. 

I've been using the small squares (approximately 60lb bales) because they're easy to handle and for bedding purposes -- which is what I do with hay for the most part, bed pigs in it - it's a nice portion size.

Last year though, I switched to 800lb round bales, and found them much easier to deal with when feeding cows.  It meant that I could feed a bale and not think about the cows for a week or so, vs having to toss in a bale of hay per cow per day.   This year I think I'll be buying round bales for the bulk of my hay.  I'll still lay in some small squares, but mostly rounds for me. 

I've been working on choosing my hay supplier more carefully, too.   I've found that people who are feeding what I'm feeding -- in this case, cows -- are probably the best source for hay.  They care about what they bale and how it's treated because they'll be feeding it to their own livestock, and it shows when I feed hay from difference sources to the cows -- they much prefer the hay from the dairy farm I buy from vs the hay farmer I buy from.   The dairy fertilizes their fields with the manure from the dairy and takes care of the fields; the hay farmer just cuts and bales; I've never seen him put anything back, and I think it makes a difference.  the cows certainly think so. 

1 comment:

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Man, what a waste, it make me sick to think of it and I live clear across the country where we have had rain. We have a small homestead with a horse and 2 calves, don't laugh now but I cut my hay with a scythe and put it up loose. I made some extra money helping put up bales for a guy but everyone rolls hay around here so square bales are seldom seen. No matter how you do it, it is nice to have a winter's hay in and a damn shame to waste it.