Alrighty, Folks… it’s time for another installment of Farming 101. Grab yer pencils and take a seat.

There is a saying: Make hay while the sun shines. It’s true. This time of year, if it’s a nice day out, you’ll be hard pressed to find a field with no tractor in it. This is busy busy time for farmers. Now is when you prepare for winterpleasedonotsaythatwordagainthankyou. Now is when you take your big ol’ lawnmower out to the field, cut pretty little rows, and then bale it all up pretty to stack in your barn. Now is when you are busy as all getout so you can rest later.

Even small operations (like ours) need hay. It’s what the animals will chomp on in the colder months when there is no pasture. Since we did not plant anything this year, we bought from our neighbor, Doug. He lives directly across the street. I’d call that local. Love it.

Farmers plant… in this case, alfalfa hay. It grows (it’s a grass). You cut it. And here’s where God is amazing: it grows again and you cut it again in a couple weeks! Most farmers get 3 cuttings off one field… sometimes 4. That’s nice. That’s a field doin’ some work for ya. Eventually, we will plant our pasture and cut our own. We’ll keep the first cut and part of the second, and we’ll sell the rest.

You have 2 options when it comes to hay: round or square. 1 round bale = 20 square bales (sorry for the math, folks… but farmin’ requires all trades). Now, square bales are comparatively cheaper as well as easier to make/move because the tractors and balers do all the work, but that also requires some pretty pricey machinery. A lot of smaller operations simply do not have the need or means for this kind of big equipment, so they (and we, eventually) make square bales. You have to move the bales yourself. It’s scratchy, sweaty, sneezy work. It helps if you wear $18 Wranglers. And also if you’re a stud.

Each cow needs about 100 bales for the winter. We happen to have 4 moos at the moment, so we need 400 bales. A simple conversation over at the mailbox (which is where, I am realizing, most conversations and deals take place) resulted in a check crossing hands and a Saturday delivery.

Now, the big red barn is still in pieces… but we do have this pole barn. Last week, additions were made to it (which I aesthetically LOVE) to allow us to store vehicles and hay under. The back part will also have a teensy little upper loft for hay storage AND camping. Genius. Curt headed over to Doug’s early Saturday morning with our Farmall M (not, I learned, for Mulder) and our hay wagon. He returned with the first of 3 loads- 125 bales- and Doug, who is an all-purpose neighbor. The kind that helps you put in a new roof, the kind that brings you sweet corn from the garden, and the kind that helps unload hay all morning. I like Doug. Here’s a before and after of the pole barn: (the hay’s on the West side to avoid the crazy winds we get)

I, obviously, was very busy during all this watching my child and, uh, taking pictures of the sundress I made. Very busy. Rylie loved the whole operation… especially when the bales would thump to the ground and spray dust everywhere. Hilarious.

So, it’s Monday now and the winter hay is all stored up safe and dry in the barn- which is great since it’s pouring right now. WAY TO DO YOUR JOB, BARN! Our nieces have yet to test out the climb-ability of the mound or the sleep-ability of the hay, but I’m sure that will happen soon.

And there is your Monday lesson on hay. Nice work, folks. Ya did good. Time for recess.


About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

16 responses to “Hay!

  • sunday

    i want to see more of this dress!!!! love the barn, you know me and barns have a mad love affair with each other! oh and I love hay, same love affair. can i commission (is that how spell that word) to make my mom one of your string/mesh market bags? the ones she has had for 20years just broke and she was dropping cukes all over the farmers market. now who wants that?

  • CortneyTree

    I’ve only seen the hem and I already love that dress. I am completely jealous 🙂

    I was just telling Matt the other day how much I love driving by fields this time of year and seeing the giant round bales dotting the pasture. Guess I really am a country girl at heart, huh?

  • Becky Swann

    Oh this entire post makes me want to sneeze! I admire your ability to not sneeze and wear cute subdresses near your cool barn!

  • Jimmy

    Bet you mean round bales are cheaper, but for sure they are not as much fun. I have many fond memories of raking and baling hay and climbing in the barn mound. But the dust not so nice.


  • Becky Swann

    ha ha subdresses!that where typing while holding a baby will take you

  • Jimmy

    Also known as the haymow….and just thinking of it causes me to sneeze.

    Just thinking of it tells me that I just may have to come over and help when you have your own planting.

  • EllieRichellie

    Great hay lesson. I too like the additions to the barn.. and thank goodness you kept it all symmetrical, b/c that is important. Guess what I learned from Walt? The first cutting of alfalfa hay has the highest concentration of the nutient zinc. Swipe a little from the longhorns this winter to mulch your garden w/ and next summer’s pumpkins (that need zinc in the soil) will be out of hand, or so says Walt.
    Ahem. . .where’s the rest of the dress?

  • Anonymous

    Get the boy some gloves. He probably already has a number of pair,,,but he needs one pair in his vehicle, one in the barn, one in the tool box of the tractor, one stuffed in the mudder box inside the door, one pair stuffed in some nook or cranny somewhere. He also need winter and summer weight gloves…baling wire or twine is tough on even the studliest(?) hands…ps-girls can load/unload hay too…how do you think I met your Pap? put’n in a lot of hay down on Uncle Ed’s farm!

  • the bantam menace

    you have a lean-to! sadly, your lean-to dredges up certain unfavorable memories of moving and stacking firewood for my dad’s shop furnace, and all the creepy crawlies that ALSO liked the firewood. child labor, people. uncool. ;P hehheehe

    and i was actually very excited to do hay bale math. made my day 🙂 now i’m off to set up a spreadsheet to do some work calculations for me. i’m giddy right now!

  • Dan, Annie, Will and Mocha

    That takes me back to one late summer where I helped bale hay for my barn, I was 16 and so in love with horses that I did it for free, wow how times have changed, I don’t think I’d ever do that again for free…..hard hard work.
    you are awesome in your sundress and your hay bales in the barn.
    I want to see more of the dress too.
    Really cool barn.
    Loft camping….fun!

  • julie

    Uhh – Dear Kate –
    I think you are fantastic. Just super. I pretty much adore you.
    Thats all.
    Bigggg smooches.

  • Anonymous

    This makes me want to live on the farm instead of the ‘hood… how the hay and chickens could be used by the Lord to change the gang bangers… we love you and miss you guys! come to CA and play – we have a pool now!!
    Kevin/Sarah Eastway

  • ecky

    that’s one great hem.
    i wanna see the top too.
    it looks purty!

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I would like to see the whole dress too! It looks beautiful!


  • KatieKate

    Patience, my Peeps, patience 🙂 The dress will be up on Thursday. A girl’s likely to get a big noggin’, the way you all carry on!
    You can also go to flickr for a sneak peek: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ckmulder/

    Jim: as to the hay, YOU ARE HIRED. Can’t wait to see some tractors with you in a week!

    Ma: I OFFERRED the boy some gloves many times, but I think he wanted the full experience this time. Boys. *sigh*

  • Chelsey Meek

    I think I have hay fever from watching Curt and Doug work…nuff bout them…lets see more of yer dress!

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