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)
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.