We've had such a wet spring that I was afraid we were going to be in the same situation as last year, scrambling to the very end to find local hay. Not only was last year stressful because of the shortage, but remember the last 100 bales that I thought looked like nice hay but ended up making the sheep sick because of the clover (at least that's what we're guessing)? I couldn't risk that again.
Fast forward to this spring. Stella's grandson Jason has taken over the family farm and offered to sell me square baled hay from one of their fields. I could pick any field I wanted...but as spring turned to summer, we all decided there was too much clover there to feel safe. The neighbor who usually takes the roll bales off our back field said we could trade our clover free field for one of Jason's. That'd work!
We've never been able to find anyone who was willing to come square bale our small five acre field. Rolls are so much faster and easier to handle. Square bales require more a lot more equipment, labor and time...and hassle. While it's all the same hay, rolls are too hard for me to feed, so I budget $1600 per year for 400 square bales.
While that probably works out to be a bit high for plain grass hay cut from our own farm, at least I know exactly what grass is in it, that it hasn't been sprayed with any chemicals, that it was put up correctly and I've supported a very local farmer. But between gathering equipment, people, worrying about the weather, lots of sweat and tired bodies, I'll have to guess that's some of the hardest money he's earned!
They (because nothing is done by yourself in this "neighborhood association" ;-) decided to cut and bale our field in two parts so in case the weather ruined the first half they'd still have the second. The first part was baled on Saturday.
Cutting the second part.
First load headed to the barn. Boy, it's a good feeling to see a big wagon load of hay coming in the driveway!
Saint Tim tossing a bale to the loft.
"Wow, that's a lot of hay!"
As soon as the second part was cut, they changed Sunday's forecast from 10% chance of rain to 60%. While I always worry when I see hay on the ground and storms rolling through, this time it was personal. As the clouds bulldozed their way across the county late in the afternoon I thought we were toast. They held together though and oh so slowly eased down the road. WHEW!!! Yesterday was perfect hay weather. Thank you!!!
Look sharp! Here comes the boss.
Part of the quality control team :-D.
"This weed shouldn't be in here, so I'll pull it out."
"Everything else looks good!"
Bullwinkle had a blast running around, jumping the rows and taste testing everything.
Jason's brother Matthew helped.
Other friends and neighbors were in and out to help.
And the wagons filled - 327 bales total.
We can probably make it with 350, but I like a 50 bale cushion in case we have a long, hard winter. The (new :-) neighbors on the other side of us (which used to be part of our farm years ago) have offered up their back field to make up the difference. So, for the first time I'm going to be feeding home raised hay. That's probably not a big deal to most farmers, but I'm really excited about it.
"Putting up hay is sure thirsty work!"