What a great year for hay! All the snow this past winter combined with ideal rains into late June nurtured abundant growth of the variety of grasses and alfalfa we grow in our fields. Dry conditions in midsummer then lent the perfect conditions for baling; too much rain or humidity and the project must wait.
This year we started haying around the Fourth of July. First, the hay is swathed, using a machine our four year old daughter endearingly calls the “big lawnmower”. Then, the hay is raked; the rake comes through and pulls smaller rows into larger ones, followed by the baler which then – you guessed it! – bales it. Once the hay is in bales, one more machine comes through and lifts the bales with “skewers” that put them on the hay truck which, finally, transports them to our hay yard for stacking. Phew, got all that? It’s a lot of work over the last month or so.
Our plentiful harvest this year added up to about 4,000 bales we pulled from our fields, which is 5-700 more than usual. Weighing roughly 1500 lbs each, this equals a grand total of about 90,000 lbs. That’s a lot of hay!!! Eating about 30 lbs per day, our hungry cows will be happily fed on an abundant supply of our range-grown hay this winter. Speaking of winter, when it rolls back around again (and it always does), we bring the hay to the cows in their winter pastures. Because snow covers the ground too deeply for them to graze on their own, the bales get moved from their storage spot, put back onto a truck, and then pitched to our grateful cows raised on the best diet we can possibly imagine – grassfed from our own local ranch, start to finish.