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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Making Hay at the Little Farm

Cutting hay at the Little Farm

Prior to last summer I was a hay-making virgin.

That is, "I didn't know nothin' 'bout makin' no hay bales!"

All I knew is somehow they magically went from standing grass to bales, either squares (large or small) or rounds (big or bigger).

All the machinery in between was a mystery to me.

Cutting straw-like hay at the Little Farm

{In an effort at full disclosure, most of these photos were taken during second cutting but I never got around to posting about it.}

Last summer at the Big Farm I finally got a chance to see the process.  My first day at the farm I got to move some round bales with G the skid steer

(Yes, I still hate you G).

I watched my buddy cut and rake the hay, then haul the big green John Deer baler around the hay field plopping out round bales like a fat green toad regurgitating its dinner.

Here on the Little Farm we have between 18-25 acres of hay, depending on how stupid courageous you are with your hay-making equipment.

Raking straw-like hay at the Little Farm

We have no hay making equipment.  So we asked our good friends at the Big Farm f they would help us out, for "halves."

I didn't know what "halves" meant before coming to the Big Farm, either. 

For those of you who never grew up on/near a farm, "halves" when some kind soul with the equipment you don't have offers to do all the work and take half of the hay crop.  In return, you get your hay cut, raked and baled.

For free.

I think we need to move this concept into the wider culture.

Papa Bear raking hay bales

For instance, I'll let you come and mow my entire lawn and you can take half of the grass clippings home with you.   

For free!

Or, I'll let you come and do all my dishes and you can take half of the clean dishes home with you.

See how lovely that would be?  Eventually I'd be down to just 2 plates and I could do those myself.


Anyway, the first crop of hay came off of this farm the third week in May.  Our half of the harvest was 14 large round bales (about 1000# each), or about 7 tons.

The second crop we weren't able to cut as many acres since without much rain this summer, the grass just wasn't growing very much.  What was cut came out to just under 300 small square bales.  Which would be about 15 large round bales.  So basically half the volume of the first cutting.

Balin' balin' balin'

But that's OK, because we only have 4 alpacas and they're only going to eat about 4 small square bales/month each.  Which leaves me 126 more square bales and 14 round.

Plus third crop, which is mostly going to be the stuff in the back pastures that never got grazed. 

With this drought I'm being told hay will sell at a premium this winter and next spring, so we're hoping this crop will actually make us some money.

And hay - wouldn't that just be a sweet deal.

Cheers -


Jess said...

Hay is a pretty hot commodity around here too. That second half of summer was so dry.

Victoria Strauser said...

It sure was. We only hayed 1 field twice and the rest only once this year.

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