Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Hay shed

Adding Bales

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We made a run to our favorite hay supplier after I got home from work yesterday in the high heat of the day.

Our little truck fits 41 small squares per trip, which isn’t much, but turns out to be a good quantity for ease of loading and unloading.

We recently discovered that the bottom bales that we place on pallets in the shed are getting moldy from moisture that comes up from the ground. Since we still have a batch of old bales that the horses don’t like and that were bleached dry by the sun, we decided to use those for a base layer on the pallets for now.

I did an accounting of inventory and discovered we don’t have as many on hand as I assumed, which I guess is what happens when you only buy them in small pickup loads per time.

Somehow, the horses keep eating, so that ongoing issue of the constant drain on inventory needs to be considered, too.

No matter how many bales we have, it always feels rewarding to finish the task of putting up new bales in storage.

Especially when the old truck survives another load without any problems. That poor beast has its best days behind it now. The rust is making inroads on multiple fronts, which always has us wondering what piece might fall off next.

Now it’s not just bales I worry about losing each trip on the way home.

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Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2017 at 6:00 am

Adding Hay

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Our original local hay source is back. Tom was the first reliable local provider of small bales from whom we purchased hay 3 years ago. At that time, we over-bought and ended up not needing more bales from him the following year. Then there was a wet year where he didn’t have any second-cut grass bales that met our needs.

We ended up shopping around.

This year conditions have been good for hay and he called to see if we were interested. Last night we hustled over to see what he was offering and ended up bringing home a truck-full. His bales include a larger percentage of stemmy content than our most recent supplier who Cyndie found through a local ad, but Tom is located half the distance away.

If our horses don’t reject Tom’s hay outright, we’ll probably put in a reservation for another 160 bales or so from him. We expect to be bringing in hay from three different sources this year, and would like to avoid coming up short before the winter season is over.

I think determining the correct number of bales needed for a year is more of an art than a science. We haven’t quite mastered the craft yet, but each year we seem to be gaining skills. It would help if the horses wouldn’t be so picky about eating what is served.

It doesn’t do a lot of good to have the hay shed filled with bales that the horses won’t eat. I’m told they’ll be less picky if they get hungry enough, but we haven’t seen that happen here yet.

We are offering the horses some test servings of the hay varieties we are putting up this summer to bolster our confidence on the new bales before committing with money and stacking muscle on further truckloads.

It’s a manner of practicing our artistic skills.

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Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2017 at 6:00 am

New Doors

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Progress on the hay shed doors is coming along nicely. One of the guys installing them hollered to me while I was tending to the horses, reporting that the hay inside was looking better already.

Seriously, protecting the bales from the continued harsh exposure to the sun will go a long way to improve the nutritional quality from what we’ve been left with in the past.

These doors certainly weren’t the cheapest option, but having professionals do the work is worth every penny to me. Watching them figure out the nitty-gritty details for just a few minutes was enough to assure me I wouldn’t have come close to achieving the quality of work they are performing.

All that’s left now is to buy more hay.

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Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Catching Up

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I’m in ‘catch-up’ mode this weekend, trying to do a week’s worth of chores around the property after my bicycling vacation. Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind of the day-job. Meanwhile, Cyndie remains tethered to one-arm limitations while her shoulder heals from the surgery.

I finished mowing and trimming the lawn grass areas yesterday, but that leaves quite a few acres of fields yet to be mowed with the big tractor and the brush cutter. It’s a jungle out there!

The horses happily volunteered to work on keeping the arena space short.

We enjoyed a pleasant surprise yesterday when a contractor knocked on our door to announce he was ready to start work on building doors for our hay shed. After a few years of watching the outside bales baked to a nutrition-less crisp of dried straw, we have settled on solid doors for a long-term solution.

The prospect of a curtain or hanging shade cloth would be a challenge to secure against the abuse of wind and sun. Rolling metal doors is our choice.

Speaking of wind, we lost two large tree branches to a gust yesterday after I mowed. I didn’t even notice the wind blowing, but the evidence is impossible to ignore in two completely different ends of our property.

Even after having the tree service trim out the risky dead wood from our large trees, there is always a threat of falling branches. Maybe we need to provide hard hats on windy days around here. Geesh.

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Written by johnwhays

June 25, 2017 at 10:32 am

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Storm Preparations

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On Saturday morning, when we realized we should delay our scheduled appointment to pickup hay due to the looming storm, I hung around the barn and hay shed to finish preparing space to stack the new bales. Of course, that is when I made a wonderful arrangement of bales on pallets in the barn, which would eventually need to be tossed aside in a panic to allow the trailer to fit.

As the front edge of the thunderstorm slowly approached, I stepped out under the overhang to check on the horses. Spotting plenty of manure, I decided to go out and clean it up before it got rained on. Methodically toiling away as the heavy weather arrived provided a unique opportunity to witness the horses behavior under the threatening conditions.

In addition to scooping poop, I decided to move fans inside and close the barn door to shut out some of the racket made by the rain on the metal roof. While I worked, the horses randomly wandered down toward the willow tree, out from under the overhang, and then Hunter came back up again.

IMG_iP1473eI should point out that we generally find the horses huddled together in a low spot at the far side of the paddock whenever it is raining heavily. I had yet to witness the actual exercise of them getting there.

It makes sense that they might find the roar of the rain on the roof to be too much, but I keep hoping the opportunity to stay dry might provide inspiration to overcome the noise issue.

Then I spotted Legacy coming up to get Hunter out with the rest of them. The first drops were starting to fall and the initial burst of wind was kicking up. It was quickening my pulse.

I don’t know what the trigger was, but all at once they seemed to realize it was time to go, and together they hustled out toward the bottom of the big paddock. There was a little jostling for position, and then some romping around, but the drill ended in classic form with their butts to the wind and their heads down as the clouds let loose and the barn roof roared.

IMG_iP1479eThey made it look so routine, despite the unpredictable drama of wicked weather.

Many hours later, after I had successfully backed the trailer of hay into the barn while the second cloudburst of the day was underway, I stepped out to check on the horses and found them taking advantage of the overhang. And they were doing this despite the clamor of the drops pounding the roof over their heads, just as I’d hoped.

Well, mostly, anyway. Dezirea will often appear indecisive about things and was standing half under shelter, as if she couldn’t make up her mind.

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Written by johnwhays

July 25, 2016 at 6:00 am

Baling Hay

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It was an epic day focused on hay yesterday, and the weather was ideal. We probably could have cut one day out of the process, but some of the bales might have bordered on still having too much moisture in them, so waiting allowed me to work the day-job on Thursday and then pack the bulk of the work of baling in about 12-hours of effort yesterday.

I started the work in the morning using George’s rake behind our tractor to create the windrows. My skills, and thus, confidence, were much higher than last year, but I still haven’t figured out the ideal pattern for our irregularly shaped field. DSCN3642eIt took me until half way through the job to discover I was making it harder on myself by dragging the rake along the previous windrow. If my steering is off the tiniest bit, the rake will catch the row I just created and mess it up.

If I simply rake from the other direction, I am raking the untouched grass with a clean space between me and the previous row. That provides much more room for normal variations. Duh!

While waiting for George to arrive with the baler, I hustled to move the remaining bales from last year that were stored on the right side of the hay shed, in order to make room for the new bales we were about to create. Hustling to exert yourself is not really well-advised when you have a long day of effort ahead on a hot summer day. I think I threw myself out of balance, probably getting too hot while also still trying to figure out a reduced-sugar diet. Getting the right sugar balance is proving to be a challenge for me.

When George arrived, he mentioned that he had forgotten to grease the baler, so I volunteered to hoof it back to my garage to get my grease gun. After that long, hurried walk, while chatting and watching him hit the multitude of grease fittings, I felt myself growing sicker and sicker. DSCN3646eI got light-headed and nauseous. It took almost too much effort to walk all the way back to the house after he started baling, where I could cool off and taking in some sugar and fluids —which was a challenge since I was also fending off the nausea.

I never really felt fully back on top of my game, but recovered enough to function and returned to help with the hardest part of all: tossing bales. Cyndie stepped up heroically and moved more heavy bales than I could believe, heaving them around to unload the wagon while I stacked them in the shed.

We weren’t able to unload fast enough to get the wagon back out to George by the time he could have used it, so he just let the last bunch of bales lay on the ground and we drove out to pick them up at the end. I haven’t counted yet, as we finished after dark last night, but I think we got another high yield off our little plot.

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George graciously returned after needing to rush home to feed his animals, and helped us stack bales in our shed to get them off the wagons. Cyndie served up dinner for us all around 10:00 p.m. and we got a chance to celebrate the huge effort of summer: putting up hay that will feed our horses all winter.

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Written by johnwhays

July 11, 2015 at 8:46 am

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