October 6, 2008

Hay & Sheep Meet Day 2

This weekend it seemed the heavenly stars aligned. Don’t know if to call it luck, fate or good fortune - we now have all our winter hay! Good hay at that AND Square bales!
Some of you may not understand my excitement in having hay, others will. It’s only the first of October and we are set for the winter! Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Around here hay is not difficult to find. We are not in a drought area; the farmers had a good hay season and most possibly 3 good cuttings. You can buy round bales all day long, it is finding square bales of hay that at times seems difficult. In the past we haven’t had problems getting hay, we are never without and our feed store carries it if we have no other source. They normally have good quality hay. The only issue with their hay is the price they charge per bale. Pricey. Well maybe not to most, but for our budget it is high. $7.00 per 65 lb. square.

For the first 5 years on the farm, our original hay source was a neighbor (cattleman) who would sell us any hay he did not need to winter over his cattle. He baled both large round bales and small square bales. I prefer the squares. So I can handle them alone. We really aren’t set up for rounds, however one year that is all we fed out. Prefer not to do it again. That neighbor decided to stop baling squares (more work involved putting up squares also requires different equipment than rounds) so we found other sources.
This past year we set it up with another neighbor who baled squares to buy their extras. We also ran into an another farmer, who had squares he wanted to sell, the only condition was that they had to be picked up out of the field. Which is not really a problem, just have to coordinate it with the better half being home. The price he wanted was really good $2.50 a square, and it looked to be good hay when we checked it out. HOWEVER when we got it home and into feeding it out, it was full of briars and thorns. Not good for fleece. The poor Angoras would get the thorny mess stuck in their coats and I would have to pull and cut it out. They were miserable, hated me for hurting them and well, the hay was just basically junk with no nutritional value for them. We wasted money on that hay, plus our hay expense almost doubled due to having to supplement with better hay.

The thorny hay farmer just called Jim about a week ago and wanted to know if we wanted to buy the stuff this year. Jim politely said no we have all the hay we need. Which no we didn’t, but we didn’t want the thorny junk.
Friday on our trip to town, stopping by the feed store, Jim (who knows no stranger) was chatting with a guy in the nuts and bolts section of the store while I was over checking out new shearing blades. A few minutes later Jim hands me a number and says we need to call this guy when we get home, he has square bales of hay for sale.

Don’t know the man who Jim talked to in the feed store, but thank you kind sir! He hooked us up with our new hay source.

When I called the number Friday evening I asked the pertinent questions, price, how many bales available, what kind of hay, how old the hay was, etc. The gentleman ask me what type of animal I was feeding. You know I have to admit that sometimes I hesitate to say goats. Most folks think goats will eat anything and will want to sell us old junk hay. Which our goats are only fed horse quality hay plus our dairy goats only are fed pure Alfalfa hay. I was truthful this time and said goats and sheep. The tone in his voice changed instantly and he happily stated I have goat hay for you. I have never heard of goat hay in my life! Seems he also raises goats and knowing his animals is aware of the type of browse that they prefer to eat. This hay is a combination of broadleaf plants, clover and natural grasses (I ask about multi-flora and thorns. No thorns he promised). He said he had just baled it that day, if we picked it up out of the field it would be $3.00 a bale. If we wanted the other hay he had baled and stored in the barn it was $3.75 a bale. We scheduled a time to meet and collect the hay.
Sunday afternoon Jim and the farmhand ventured over to collect the hay. When they returned they looked exhausted. I mentioned their appearance. Jim happily said these bales are extremely heavy. I watched as they unloaded the first load into the small hay barn. This hay was bright green, smelled sweet like clover and packed tight weighing 75 lbs. if not more. This is all good.

Day 2 of the sheep meet and greet went very well. Have much work to do with taming Kirby. Still very very leary of new mom. This is about as close as I can get.
Angus is my buddy and will eat out of my hand.

Look at the fleece, will be amazing to work up. Light caramel color on the ends, root chocolate brown.
Kelly decided I was acceptable, though likes to bite the hand that feeds him. When we have goats that lick and nibble normally is an indication that they need a salt supplement.
Aberdeen (no photo of him today) well, he is quite the character. He will only come close if I have food or cookies in my hand. Other wise, he doesn't have the time of day for me. If I act as if I want to touch him, he will show me who he thinks is boss, who has horns which means he will attempt to ram me. This too shall pass I am sure.


Anonymous said...

Our hay prices are getting high here too that is one reason why we need to downsize our herd soon!

Anonymous said...

Love your blog! I raised sheep as a youth so will always love them!

Hay is high here in Colorado. Premium hay is $7.00 a bale, junk going for $3.00. Some people really do try to get rid of junk. Shame on them.

I call Terry a hay artist, he works at just getting the right mix of dew of the leaves so there are leaves on the stems, not just stems.


Robin said...

Very nice blog. Our alfalfa and Alfalfa mix is $16 and $17 a bale. Our local hay is $6 to $7 a bale. I just don't know how people are going to be able to keep there animals all winter. It really makes me very upset

JK said...

Good luck with your downsizing Amy. We downsized this year til it hurt.

Thank you Linda and Robin.