Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hay, Hay, and more Hay!

A few weeks ago, we had the first cut harvested off our 5 acre hay field. While the grass is orchard, timothy, and bromm, which is great for alpacas, the first cut was cut later than we had hoped to have it harvested. Because it was harvested later, the seed heads of the grass were out and the stems and stalks had already become very tough and the hay has a lower protein level. While this low protein, tough hay is not great for alpacas, it is great for other livestock like horses and cows. Because the grass grew so much, we ended up with a very large volume...584 square bales total. We gave 184 bales to our neigbor who harvested the hay for us and kept 400 bales to sell. We plan to have our second cut harvested sooner before the heads come out. We will end up with much less bales, but it will be softer hay with a higher protein level which is great for our alpacas.
Below are pictures of our 72-year-old neigbor who has been farming in Grant his whole life. He is a retired farmer now, but still raises some cattle and still farms hay, straw, and corn on several hundred acres that completely surround our farm. He baled our hay on the one day it reached 96 degrees this year. We invited him in for a drink and offered him a bottled water. He said it was the first bottled water he ever had...which I thought was amazing! We think it is awesome and incredible that he is still farming at his age and is able to pick up a 50lb bale of hay in each hand and toss them 6 feet above his head to be stacked! We hope to be healthy and active farmers like this some day. I think fresh air and hard work keeps you young.

We need to create a new driveway to our field. Our neigbor was not able to get his hay trailer into our field because the tree branches were in the way. If he were able to, his tractor is able to bale the hay and then throw it into a trailer mecanically using a kicker. Unfortunately, we had to haul to 584 bales in ourselves. We don't yet have a tractor, so this meant loading the hay in the back of our pick up truck, 20 bales at a time and then driving it to our barn, hauling it up a ladder (because we don't have a hay elevator) into the hay loft and then stacking it. I can't take much credit for this. Noah did the first 300 bales on is own while I was working. We wanted to get it off the field before the rain came as it can get moldy if it gets wet. Unfortunately, Noah is allergic to hay, so it was quite the uncomfortable chore for him. When I got home from work, I helped with 100 more bales, which is suprisingly hard labor and my arms got all scratched up from hauling, throwing, and stacking hay. Luckily, Noah's brother came up the next morning and helped Noah bring the remaining 184 bales to our neighbors and helped him stack it.

I am happy to have all the hay in, but not looking forward to hauling and stacking again with our second cut in a few weeks. Here are some more pictures:

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