Sunday, August 18, 2013

Making the Best of It

This summer has been tough on the Twin Tiers hayers, since it has been very rainy. That doesn't mean it has rained every day, but it has rained every third or fourth day, just enough to make it very tough to time the mowing, teddering, raking and baling.

Much easier to move!
If we were still buying hay, instead of growing it ourselves, I would be worried about what quality I would be finding as I tried to fill my mow for the winter.  A lot of farmers in this area bale mainly for cows, and they don't mind rushing the process to beat the rain.  Unfortunately, that often means hay that is pretty much unusable by November -- at that point, when you open a bale, clouds of nasty, mold dust gag you, and the hay is not healthy for horses (or you) at that point.

But since we are making our own hay now, I have just been having fits all summer over it.  We knocked down half a field of FIRST cut (very late first cut) last weekend, only to have one of those pop-up, drenching thunderstorms interrupt the clear weather and soak our downed hay.
Hay, stealing my horse space again.

So, what to DO with a half a field of rained-on downed hay that was late anyway, so past its prime and full of weeds?  We sure as heck didn't want to bale it into our little round bales.  It's a hell of a lot of work just to end up with crappy bales, and we don't want to store them and we don't want to leave them on our field. 

So, we made a deal with a neighbor who has a big round baler.  We teddered the hay so it was dry and fluffly, then raked it into double windrows for him the next day.  He baled it for us, turning it into 16 big round bales.  That equates to about 300 little bales for us, so I am very glad we didn't have to pick them all up and figure out where to store them.
A classic hay-burner portrait

Storage of the big bales was still a question, but since our old barn is newly cleared out of last year's hay, it will work temporarily until we figure out what to do with the big bales.  That barn is supposed to be for horses and horse equipment only, but hay keeps finding its way back in there.

Since the hay was bone dry when we baled, the bales themselves are fine.  They won't mold.  The hay will have lost some flavor and nutrition during the rain, but I'm testing it on our mares.  If they find it acceptable, I'll use the big bales as back-up munchies in the winter, leaving one available for them to chew on in between feedings of the good hay we have made.  If they hate it, I know many cows that will find it delicious, and we may sell it.
Cheech made a bed of it.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with this real "if life gives you lemons, make lemonade" ending!



  1. I saw the hay down and even saw you driving the tractor. Sure has been an odd hay season.