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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘hay bales

Hay’s In

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This year we accomplished our goal in three days. The hay is in. I’m ready for winter.

On the left side of that image, in the front you can see remaining bales from last year. Behind it are the new grass bales just stacked. On the right are the new bales we stacked on Sunday and Monday, from a second source. Those bales have a rougher mixture of stemmed grasses, which our horses showed strong interest for last year.

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Working early in the morning yesterday presented a nice change to throwing bales at the end of the day. Stacking to the top of the shed however, ended up being just as hot and sweaty as doing it in the late afternoon on the two previous days.

We hadn’t opened the chicken door on the coop yet, so Delilah was able to hang out with us while we worked. When the chickens are roaming about, we don’t leave Delilah unsupervised, as she has a history of breaking her leash to reach the irresistible teasers.

If our full attention isn’t directly on her, she has a tendency to violate her restraining order.

We collect all the sweepings that fall from the bales to provide the horses a taste test of the menu they will be served for the next year.

I’m told there were no complaints.

That means a lot to us after the year our horses resolutely refused to eat bales we bought from a third source.

Imagine how it feels to have food we offer rejected after the strenuous effort to transport and stack a season’s worth in the high heat and humidity of summer.

Today, we are breathing a sigh of relief over having the hardest part of this chore behind us for another year.

Now, how long ’til it starts to snow?

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Written by johnwhays

July 11, 2018 at 6:00 am

Never Dull

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There is rarely a dull moment in our lives with acres and animals. Yesterday was a particularly full day. Before I get to that however, I really must post more pictures from our great cow adventure last Friday. These belong with Saturday’s post, but I was up at the lake, and just didn’t have the bandwidth to support my intentions.

Here is my view of the main herd as their curiosity brought them over to see what we were up to at the fence:

I didn’t want them to get any ideas about joining the remaining escapees, so I worked to convince them they’d be happier going the other direction.

This is Cyndie, holding the opening as wide as possible while cooing sweet nothings to woo the last stragglers back into their pasture:

It was a hard sell. The second wire from the top was the only broken one, but holding them open provided plenty of clearance, if only the overly cautious (now they decided to be cautious!) bovine would step through.

After a busy morning at the lake yesterday, tending to minor chores before heading home, we traveled in Cyndie’s car with the top down in the beautiful sunshine, joining a LOT of other vacationers for the trek home.

It was as if our full day had barely gotten started. I was able to connect with our next-door neighbor to borrow his large trailer for hauling hay. Our first source of bales reported a shortage of availability, due to a new client who required 4000 bales. Five minutes after that sorry news, he called back to say his brother had bales we could buy, but needed to get them out of the wagon by the end of the day.

Cyndie whipped up an early dinner and then we set off to begin this summer’s hay bale escapades, the first of multiple expected trips.

Thankfully, due to our previous experience, the loading and transport went smoothly, and we got the load stowed in the shed while there was still daylight.

As the last light faded, I found Cyndie out picking black raspberries because there are still so many berries ripening.

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From inside the house, I heard branches breaking in the woods. I called out the window to Cyndie and she said she was hearing it, too, but didn’t see anything. She prolonged her berry picking to see if that last stray cow from Friday still might be roaming around, but neither a deer nor a cow materialized before she quit to go secure the chicken coop for the night.

We are happy to report, all twelve birds were safely inside.

Honestly, the fullness of our day was the epitome of the saying, “never a dull moment.”

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Written by johnwhays

July 9, 2018 at 6:00 am

Better Sense

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It looks as though my shadow has better sense than me about taking a much deserved break in the midst of toiling over non-stop things to do.

After work yesterday, it was another trip in the pickup to fetch 45 more bales of hay. Tossing them off the truck and then hefting them back up, stacked high in the shed, was a little more exercise than I was planning to do.

Of course, the stacks get higher as I grow more exhausted, so I out-smarted the task by placing the last half-dozen on the lowest level for now.

I do have better sense than to over-tax my weary body on one particular activity.

I’m better off spreading the exhausting efforts across several days-worth of projects. After that, my body can catch up to my shadow and take a well-deserved rest for a few minutes on a Sunday afternoon.

About that time, it will be the beginning of another week and I’ll get to start the process all over again.

Luckily, the rewards for our efforts are plenty, and we are richly blessed in this paradise we endlessly tend.

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Written by johnwhays

July 14, 2017 at 6:00 am

More Hay

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Honestly, I think we pretty much nailed it on the quantity of our hay supply over the winter. The new growing season is now upon us and farmers are talking about cutting their first crop of the year, as soon as next week if the weather is dry enough. We are down to our last rows of the bales harvested from our field last year. There are still a fair number remaining from the batch we purchased 2-years ago from a local farmer, but many are showing some mold and our horses have pretty much refused to eat them.

Given all that, Cyndie still prefers to have a larger backup supply than we ended up with, so we have been in the market for a small batch of insurance hay. We did drive up to check on offerings available from our previous source, but the bales he had left from last year looked too similar to those we already have that our horses don’t eat.

He suggested we consider some second-cut bales he will have later this summer. Second-cut hay doesn’t tend to have as many stemmy grasses, and probably has a few less weeds.

For now, Cyndie kept looking, and on Thursday she drove to investigate some hay advertised in the free Shopper publication that is distributed locally. She said it looked good, and more importantly, it smelled good, so she brought home a small load of bales. Yesterday, since I was home from work, we went together to bring back a larger load.

DSCN2070eWe had to wait until the rain stopped before venturing out, because wet hay becomes moldy hay. After lunch, she provided directions while I drove. We were given free rein to pick our choice from the barn loft, so Cyndie tossed bales down and I organized them in the truck bed. Using the skills I honed in 13-loads two years ago, I stacked the hay so we wouldn’t need to tie it down. The bales above, hold the ones below in place.

We made it home just as a new wave of precipitation threatened, forcing us to hastily unload the bales into the hay shed.

The task served as a gentle reminder of the work that lies ahead of us soon. Hay season is not far off. It’s a time of anxious weather-watching and intense effort over several long days that are both thrilling and exhausting at the same time.

At least now I feel comfortable knowing how many bales we want to put up to last a whole winter —plus some insurance— after several years of varying results. Simply having that one concern removed from the process makes it all a little less daunting.

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2016 at 6:00 am

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Hazardous Conditions

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Yesterday, while working outside for long hours in the spring wind, we exposed ourselves to enough tree pollen to cause significant irritation to our delicate tissues. I think I also successfully altered the weather to shut down precipitation here for some time.IMG_iP1213e

While my nose dripped at an ever-increasing rate, I built a barrier of old, moldy hay bales in the trees by our uphill neighbor’s corn field.

During heavy rain, the water comes off that field in a torrent and washes sediment onto our property. Lately, it has started to fill in a drainage trench beside our driveway.

Oddly enough, I actually wanted it to rain today, so I could see if my creation worked as intended, but the forecast shows no precipitation expected in the days ahead.

Given that, I guess my project worked. It has stopped the sediment from pouring into our trench, hasn’t it?

While I was working in the tangled bramble of uncontrolled growth that forms the border between our property and that cultivated field to the north of us, I decided to finally address a remnant of rusted barbed wire fencing that had been swallowed by a tree.

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The tree had long ago been cut off, leaving a stump that was about the height of a fence post. Made sense, since the barbed wire ran through the tree, it was already functioning as a fence post.

Removing the rusted fencing was made easier by the fact the tree was rotting to pieces. So much of it came apart simply by prying at it with one of the old fence posts that I found myself struggling near the end, to finish it off in the same manner. Eventually, logic, and my increasingly irritating allergic reactions to pollen, led me to hasten the task by way of the chain saw.

The area looks like it has been through a serious spring cleaning now, with the added benefit of opening up visibility to the area where water flows off the neighbor’s field. It is easier to see if the barrier I built is doing the job of keeping sediment out of our ditch.

Sneeze. Cough. Drip. Stinging blink. It’s the hazardous working conditions of spring!

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Written by johnwhays

April 10, 2016 at 8:42 am

Bales Stacked

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The day after the classic scramble to get a full field of hay baled and stacked under a roof has a disorienting feel to it. There is an obvious sense of relief in the reality that the shed is now stocked with provisions to feed our horses all winter. It’s like everything that needs to be done, is done.

But, it’s not.

It feels sort of comical to now have to mow the short grass of the lawn, a mere pittance of a harvest compared to that hay-field.

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Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2015 at 9:35 am

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Weather Weary

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The first full week with Cyndie working her new job and me working at home as full-time ranch manager is behind us. She came home and went to bed with a headache and I am physically exhausted from working 14-hour days. Will the weekend offer us a chance to relax? I’m not sure.

DSCN2097eI wasn’t able to get out and test the new wood chipper yesterday, after a morning of rain and an afternoon of hauling hay. I stacked 80 more bales in the hay shed. It’s beginning to look respectable.

I wish I could say the same about our uncut field. As feared, the weeds are maturing and weather hasn’t offered us much chance for enticing any willing neighbors to help turn it into bales.

I take some solace in the fact we are not alone in being unable to cut. I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the tribulations hay growers are facing this year. We are lucky to have found a supplier who has some high ground, though he still battles the frustration of squeezing the process of cutting and baling into the short number of days between deluges.

Ideally, the process involves at least 3 dry days in a row, but we’ve been hard pressed to get 2, and the rain amounts have continued to be significant. That means the next sunny day or two after a rain event are often lost to waiting for the ground to dry up again. It just doesn’t seem to happen.

This also impacts my plan to do some wood chipping. One of the first areas with cut branches that I am hoping to grind into chips is at the bottom of a hill in a very wet spot. Getting down there with my tractor holds the potential of becoming a muddy, messy affair.

No matter how much control we pretend to have about eventual outcomes, the days will always be a delicate balance, subject to whatever nature chooses to offer or inhibit.

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Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2014 at 9:06 am