Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hey, Hey, HAY!

Every year we go through the saga of the hay or as is mentioned as the check is written out, "Weaving gold into straw". Some years are better than others. Two years ago our steady hay guy retired and we were left scrambling to find another supplier in a bad hay year. The fill- in supplier cost us a lot more per ton than we had been paying. Hay supply is an iffy thing, yes, when feeding one horse the difference between paying $125.00 per ton and $185.00 hurts but not like feeding five.

We average 20 ton per year and it's always good to have some extra if the weather is particularly bad over the winter or the first cutting of the following year is late. We've had that happen too. The local Grange knows they have you over a barrel and a 60-80 pound bale of hay can cost $12-16 big ones. I feed a bale a day at least.
Last year the gas prices really hurt everyone involved with livestock. A lot of horses hit craigslist and for very cheap prices. Broke my heart to see some nice horses being dumped for next to nothing. The hay guys grumbled (no one works that hard to lose money), the owners grumbled and frankly, the hay wasn't all that great for what it cost. I wasn't happy with the hay I got last year and neither were the Hoovers ( they suck up feed like a vacuum). We had to find another supplier. This year I went to Klamath Falls for production hay producers.

It wasn't my first choice, I always try to buy locally, but we simply couldn't afford it and the hay has not been worth the price. Instead of splitting up my hay between two cuttings I bought all first cutting and had it delivered in one gigundum load complete with double trailers and hay squeeze. As the guys were pushing cubes of hay into our barn, I was feeding out my very last pitiful old bale from last year.

If you ever build a hay barn, build it at least 12'6" high. Ours is 11'6" high and we can't get a hay squeeze in. Cody did a great job of pushing it in though. It was amazing and saved Gene and I a whole bunch of work and our backs. These are 125 pound 3 string bales, not the 60-70 pounders I prefer because they are easier for me to lift, but I'll make do.

The price was good, delivery and stacking good considering ( I'll have to push that one loose top load over into the side wall) and the hay looks nice. I liked these guys and it looks like maybe ( fingers crossed) we will again have a steady hay supplier. This morning I'll go out and start feeding off the outside stack we couldn't get in, part of it is for a neighbor so it will whittle down pretty quick once he picks his up. We'll tarp the rest in case of rain. Hay buying is done for this year and while it is always a heavy hit on the wallet, there is a big sigh of relief when the barn is full and you know the kids are all taken care of until next summer. Whew!


  1. Thanks for the ins and outs of hay-buying! I've been curious about it since we had such a rainy time in June. The grass ripened and then I don't know what happened with the first cut.

    There's a field at the entrance to our neighborhood that usually gets hayed that hasn't yet this year....I think due to weather.

    I didn't realize that hay would last for a whole year. Or that you need so much hay per day. You're definitely strong, toting those big bales of hay around!!

    Your horses are lucky to have you!! (And vice versa I'm sure!)


  2. LOL, I could go on about hay, but enough is enough! ;-) Yes, well baled hay lasts for quite a while, although it does lose nutrition over time. If the hay isn't cut when it's time it gets course and "stemy" and of course doesn't have as much nutrition as hay with the heads still on it. There is an art to making hay and knowing when to cut. A lot of guys around here cut at night when the moisture is higher in the hay, it must sit and cure loose for a few days and then be baled. If too wet it will mold, too dry it won't provide again, the nutrition. The wet NE early summer must have been a nightmare for hay growers. Horses need 2-3 % on average of their body weight in forage per day to maintain weight, more if in hard work. And then there are all types of hay......:-)

  3. I can remember in college dating a guy who's parents would show horses. He always said - never have a hobby that eats! Wow - what commitment and dedication. I'm glad you are in there for the "long haul".

  4. Jennifer, Thank god DH never heard that and I'm not telling him!
    As to commitment and dedication, I think every responsible horse owner puts a lot of time and thought into their care. Many horses are kept so unnaturally that it is an all consuming task to find a good balance. Mine is to practice a sort of happy neglect. They live outside 24/7 with shelter, no hot feed, no shoes but good trims,lots of love and understanding, company of their own kind and mostly, to watch, study and know what's normal for each particular animal and to work with the seasons.

  5. Hay hurts - Ian brings bales home after each trip to town. Bulk price is cheaper, but then you pay the delivery fee. I wish we could grow grass here.

  6. Sharon, one of the nice things about using a big production hay operation was the delivery fee. It was small and they got all the tonnage on one load. The only extra cost was the hay squeeze and it was WELL
    worth the $100. to have all that hay placed in its big cube right in the barn. If I had just the goats I would probably do what you and Ian do although once the snow hits it would be impossible to get tonnage of any kind onto the property.