Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘hay

Happening Now

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I’ve witnessed the evidence in my lifetime.

The trend is undeniable. Feel free to argue the cause.

I claim human activity is responsible.

For the time being, at least we still have trees.

I need to plant more trees.

I heard an ominous story on news radio during my commute home yesterday that highlighted the concerns of owning animals at a time when growing hay to feed them is getting harder to do successfully.

We have hay in our shed for this winter, but future years are not guaranteed. It pains me that our green grass is too rich for granting full-time access to our horses. We end up feeding them hay year-round.

It’s awkward. Like being adrift in the ocean, surrounded by water that you can’t drink.

It will be tough if we reach a point where there isn’t enough hay to feed all the grazing livestock.

It’s not a single issue calamity at risk, though. There are plenty of other aspects of the warming planet that are simultaneously having an impact. I’d sure hate to be in the insurance industry now that we are experiencing waves of increasing intensity severe weather events.

I can’t figure out how they will be able to cover the ever-increasing expenses for claims from the devastation of storm after storm.

I wonder what it will be like here six years from now. We don’t currently have a long-range plan worked out for the ranch. The initial improvements we put in place upon arrival have sufficed for a few years now. There isn’t a lot more we need to do beyond maintaining the buildings and grounds as they are.

Simply responding to the ongoing climate slide may become our main challenge.

I suppose I could always focus on marketing our paradise as a place to Forest Bathe.

I really should be planting more trees.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2018 at 6:00 am

More Bales

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With all those fat windrows laying in our fields, there was more than enough for us to take a wagon load of bales for ourselves. It took a little creative arranging to fit them in the shed, with our recently purchased bales already stacked to the ceiling, but we found a way to make them fit.

Jody successfully completed baling the last of the windrows, leaving our fields with the clean look of being freshly cut.

Cyndie climbed the mountain of bales in the wagon and heaved them out for me to stack.

We won’t need to go to a gym to get a workout, that’s for sure.

There’s nothing like putting in a full day of work and then following that up with an intense effort of throwing more than a hundred bales in the July heat.

Since we wanted to keep bales from our back pasture, I had some time to kill while Jody finished filling one wagon with bales from the hay-field. I took advantage of the time to turn and rearrange our composting manure piles.

While I was nearing completion of that task, Cyndie called me to meet a neighbor who volunteered to take our miscellaneous metal scrap that was slowly accumulating. That was a wonderful happenstance, allowing me to clean out a pile of ugly metal trash that we’d piled up over the five years we’ve been here.

It was a rewarding three-for-one night of accomplishments that left little time for much else.

Dinner didn’t happen until 8:30 p.m., and bedtime was a little later than usual, but we were buoyed by the satisfying accomplishments we’d achieved.

Once again, we are feeling happy to be done with stacking bales for a while. This time, that joy should last for a much longer span of weeks.

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Written by johnwhays

July 25, 2018 at 6:00 am

Ample Windrows

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Making the first cut of our fields for hay this late in the summer provides a benefit of windrows looking very robust. When we got home from the lake on Sunday, both our hay-field and the back pasture were cut. Yesterday, Jody raked the cuttings into rather buxom windrows.

The result was a gorgeous scene to behold.

This afternoon he will bale. We are going to store a wagon load in our almost filled hay shed and he will take the rest.

If we could rely on him being able to cut our fields every year, we could probably get away with not buying any hay from our other sources.

I don’t know if he would be as motivated to help us if he wasn’t getting some bales out of the deal, so it’s not a guaranteed plan, but it’s an enticing dream to ponder.

Walking our property last night was an immersion in a quintessential country summer evening. The air was thick with a potpourri of aromas from wild plants and cultivated crops approaching their peak. Songbirds, frogs, and crickets provided a steady humming soundtrack for the hours on both sides of the sunset.

With the air calm, there was little else moving to muddy the sound.

The temperature was warm and perfectly humid, well short of feeling uncomfortable. It was the kind of day to burn into our deepest memories, hoping to make it available again for the depths of the cruelest days that winters regularly dish out.

Locally grown sweet corn is starting to show up and the watermelon is once again flavorful. County fairs are in full swing.

With a seeming emphasis, yet an inviting ease, it smells, tastes, and sounds like we are smack dab in the thickest part of summer.

Might as well throw some more bales of hay.

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Written by johnwhays

July 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

Making Decisions

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With everything around here growing at warp speed, now would be a really bad time to lose the services of our Stihl power trimmer. Isn’t there a law of probability about this?

While Cyndie was making headway against the grass jungle taking over the gazebo on Monday, the trimmer became “wobbly.” She discovered the main drive shaft tube had suffered a metal-fatigue fracture.

That’s not good.

I dropped it off for repair in the evening, but their backlog of work is running at two weeks. It’s scary to imagine not being able to trim for that many days.

Cyndie thinks we should buy another one, and I am hard pressed to argue. There have been many times when we both could be trimming at the same time.

Pondering this. Something about it doesn’t feel right. I’m driven to balance the logic of a cost-benefit analysis, a crystal ball vision of what our future is here, and that unsettling gut feeling about the expense. Then I need to deal with the fact there is no right or wrong answer in the end.

You know me and decision-making. It’s not my favorite thing to manage.

One thing that I’m glad that we weren’t relying on me to decide, yesterday we got the details from our neighbor about his plan for the hay-field. It makes total sense to me now.

While he was cutting on Monday night, he was listening to the weather forecast. The outlook for rain all day Thursday was holding strong, so he smartly stopped cutting any more than he thought he could get dried and baled by the end of today.

We received encouraging news from him about our fields. He said the grass is real thick underneath, likely due to the mowing we did all last summer. In addition, he clarified that the tall grass going to seed was not Foxtail, as Cyndie feared (which is not good for our horses’ mouths), but the premium horse hay staple, Timothy.

We still have a long way to go in our transition from suburbanites to Ag-wise country folk.

(Brings to mind my stuttering pause into the phone when I was asked what kind of cows were trampling our property a couple of weeks ago. Um, big ones?)

Amidst the angst of dealing with equipment failures, it is refreshing to learn some good news about the outcome of our efforts to improve the quality of what is growing in our hay-field and pastures.

Despite all the challenges that continue to arise (and decisions thus required), Wintervale continues to evolve in an encouraging way for us.

Hurrah!

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Double Day

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When it’s hay season and you own horses, filling your shed with bales claims a big chunk of time and attention. After a full shift at the day-job yesterday, our priority quickly reoriented to the physically taxing effort of picking up hay bales from two of our main suppliers, one right after the other.

On Sunday evening, we hauled and then stacked a hundred bales from our first source. Yesterday, we started the last half of our “work” day with a trip to our second source to pick up one hundred of his bales. As soon as we had unloaded and stacked that batch in our shed, we headed out again to revisit our first source for one hundred more.

Once we reached home with that load, we took a short break to eat dinner. Cyndie’s brilliant preplanning to fill the slow cooker with chicken cacciatore in the morning, allowed us to enjoy an instant meal with little in the way of immediate preparation.

After some food, it was time to unload and stack the final hundred.

It was hot, sweaty, exhausting work. The hay shrapnel ends up everywhere, especially stuck to sweating skin. The dust triggers Cyndie’s allergic reactions.

The fatigue increases and the stack of bales gets higher to climb, both at the same time.

The joy of completing the task is amplified by the visual of now having enough food for the horses to last most of the year. There’s just one more load needed, and based on the time our supplier was available, we are setting out first thing this morning to do another hundred bales.

I’m not tired. You’re tired.

Last night, after we finished, Cayenne came over to offer me a nuzzle of thanks for our efforts.

The horses seem as happy as we are, seeing all these bales showing up to fill the hay shed.

Cyndie and I will be happier still, when the intense effort is behind us and we can return to our more typical leisurely pace around here.

That’s “leisure,” in a relative sense, of course.

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Written by johnwhays

July 10, 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

Don’t Try

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We’ve been going about it all wrong. I’ve figured out a new way to grow grass. Simply don’t try.

It’s along the same lines as reverse psychology. It seems totally unlikely, but trust me. It works.

Here’s how you can do it:

Get a bunch of bales of grass hay. Four or five hundred worked well for us. Move them from one place to another, and then sweep all the leftover debris onto a hard gravel surface.

Next, drive back and forth across that surface over and over. Also, relentlessly bake that spot in the afternoon sun.

Never water it beyond what happens to fall from the sky as rain.

It doesn’t hurt to repeatedly process thoughts about not wanting grass to grow in the gravel area. You might even order a second load of rocky class-5 gravel to spread over the area. It’s what we did, and look at the results we got:

That grass is growing in the driveway where we don’t want it, many times better than it grows in areas where we actually want lawn grass. In addition, it is all grass. No weeds. In the lawn, many spots have more weeds and other odd ground cover growing than we have grass.

But not on the driveway. Noooooo. Just wonderful blades of grass there.

It’s not even simply a matter of not trying; we have actively sought to discourage grass from growing there, but to no avail.

I really don’t like mowing our gravel sections of driveway.

Unfortunately, I can’t avoid it. The grass grows too well there.

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Written by johnwhays

May 25, 2018 at 6:00 am