Thursday, May 21, 2015

Raking, baling, watching the sky

bales on the right, raked hay on the left.  Lots of work ahead
 Haying weather is really a roll of the dice around here; most of the local farmers don't bother with trying to guess, they just round-bale the first cutting of hay and wrap it, and sell it as silage.  Wrapped bales don't really have to be picked up on any sort of schedule; you'll see them out in the fields for weeks or months until the farmer gets around to it.

The unfortunate part of that is that I don't have a round baler... but this year I watched the weather and saw a little window coming up that looked like haying weather.  So I cut the grass and crossed my fingers; tedded it, and tested it every day for moisture content.   This morning I thought it might work out, so I raked a row and tuned up the baler for bale length and weight.  Around noon the hay tested at 17% moisture, and the race is on.
First cutting has some seed heads and some weeds.  2nd cutting will be finer and better quality
So I had a guy on the tractor baling, and I was working with a crew of four to pick up the bales and toss 'em on a wagon.  One driver, one on the wagon, two people tossing bales up to the wagon deck.   The truck pulling the hay wagon followed the baler, slowly falling behind, until we'd baled about 850 bales.  Took 3 hours to put all of the baled hay into the barn, and then we quit for the night.  If it doesn't rain tonight we'll bale and stack the remainder tommorow.  If it does rain I'll use the grass head on my forage chopper to pick it up, and feed the wet grass to the cows while the field regrows.

I need about a bale a cow a day.  So my herd of 25 cows needs 25 bales a day, or roughly 750 bales a month in hay.  The non-growing season is about 5 months long, so my goal for this year is 3,750 bales of hay stacked and in the barn by september.

If I can get this cutting into the barn without mishap, I'll be more than half-way there.  Crossing my fingers and hoping it doesn't rain tonight.  20% probability.



George said...

We usually (if weather permits) leave the squares to sit a day in the sun. If we have to put em away right away, we salt each layer of the bale stack to draw out moisture, mainly to ensure no fires :)

Nick in RI said...

So did it rain?

Bruce King said...

George; usually if it's better weather I'll leave them a day after baling too; just dind't have a big enough weather window this time to do it. So we stacked them on pallets and loosely, so there's airflow under and around each pallet of 9 bales so that they can dry a bit in the barn. luxury of having a huge barn.

Bruce King said...

Nick: Had a heavy dew this morning that delayed baling until noon, but no rain. At 9:30pm it still hasn't rained, but at this point I'd like it to rain. Baled from noon to 9pm. 1286 bales in the barn, which is a little less than I'd hoped, but still 1/3rd of all the hay I'll need for the winter, and doing a cutting this early is really unusual. Probably means I'll get 4 cuttings total this year, which would put me at something like 4000 bales, comfortably over what I need.