|Anyone up for a game of hay hopping tag?|
Last winter, I felt like I was constantly scrambling to catch up with all the stuff we should have been doing over the summer, but didn’t because we were in the middle of moving. The biggest challenge is always finding hay–it’s either too expensive, too old, too far away, too moldy, too weedy, or simply, not enough. Not this year! Since it’s 99% of what the horses and cows eat over the winter, hay is pretty darn important. This is the first time we’ve had enough land to grow, cut, and bale our own hay. That might not sound like a big deal, but for us, it’s HUGE.
First and foremost: we needed to fertilize in early spring to maximize the amount of hay that we could get off of the five-ish acres that we’d set aside for hay. I prefer organic-type of fertilizer–a.k.a. horse poop–but without a spreader, we decided to use what we could. So, we waited for rain in the forecast and the day before, walked back and forth for miles (literally…my step counter said so) until all the fertilizer was gone.
The younger kids were all good sports while they watched me work. If they’ve got a picnic blanket and a snack, bonus if a cat comes to play, they’re good.
We could definitely tell it was working–I’d used the extra fertilizer we had on another pasture and apparently, I missed a few spots. Fast forward a few months, and the grass was ready to cut. The only problem: getting someone to show up. The downside of some country folks is that they may or may not get around to doing what they promised, based on the rain, their grandma’s Sunday dinner, their fishing schedule, whether or not they wanted to go to the bar after work, if their tractor is functioning, etc. So, I wrung my hands for a few weeks (WEEKS! That’s a long time in the life of grass!) and the week we left for Portugal, I found someone who actually kept his word.
|Poor snake. But Henry was happy to get a closer look.|
Of course, everyone who’s had any experience with hay knows there are always a few casualties in the process. It’s sad that a little snake got caught in the middle of hay but sort of ironic that his passing was because of something that’ll keep the horses and cows alive over the winter. Such is life on the farm.
|Checking on it before going for a swim.|
The grass was nice and thick so it took several days after cutting of windrowing (raking it into fluffy piles), then tedding it (spreading it out thinly), in scorching hot weather to ensure it was nice and dry before it was baled into round bales.
|Raking it up and dropping it out as beautiful, fresh round bales.|
Baling hay is one of the things is like Farm TV for us–when we saw the guy out baling, we all abandoned dinner and plans to go swimming to watch.
|Everybody watch out!|
When the baling was done, the horses and cows were happy to get into the back pasture for a change of pace and we had the hay stacked in the shed to keep it out of the elements as much as possible.
Fingers crossed we can get another batch closer to autumn, cut as small square bales so we can have something to feed the animals when they’re in the barn. For now, I’m content watching the grass grow and am happy we’ve gotten some winter prep done now.