It is almost October, the end of a long, hot summer a distant memory and as the cool, damp fall has set in. This year, the hay season was shortened by extreme temperatures and a severe lack of rain. First cutting hay was priced much like what one would expect of second cutting pricing and second cutting cost more to produce than what it was really worth. Third cutting you ask? Not here, no third chance for hay. We really had a difficult year for all crops this year.
We've put up 650 bales this year, first cutting, and it is really nice hay considering this season's challenges (photo below). It should be enough but I'd have to say that hay bales are to nearly as large as they used to be in the past....remember those 80 pound wire-bound square bales? Well I remember them but haven't seen them in years! Hopefully I won't need to get more but was told to call if I ran into a shortage. We did, have to have our hay delivered from 100 miles away! Why? Well, we could not get anyone local to commit to providing hay and thus, our purchase from out of town. Not to mention, the quality locally varied greatly and moldy or straw-like was not what I'd chose to feed. So many people up here feed wet, moldy round bales...I just don't understand how their horses are surviving on it let alone not getting colic!
Now, I am not opposed to round bales just as long as they were rolled dry, stored in a barn, and then kept clean and dry for horse consumption. In Virginia, we were able to get this kind of hay and it was excellent. That said, I was one of very few customers for the farmer that sold it and was certain to constantly thank him and tell him what excellent hay it was to ensure he knew I appreciated it. Funny thing to do but he was an old-time-type guy and this was a necessary step!
So anyway, the quality of the hay we purchased was better than the local available square bales and the farmer ensured that it always was put up dry and stayed that way including delivering it in a furniture truck. We had to endure the additional cost for delivery along with an additional fuel surcharge but it was well worth it, this "gold green" hay! I also, for the first time, hired some local boys to help with the job. Do you remember me writing about Irvin? Well, it is his sons, very nice, well-mannered, hardworking young men (ages 16, 13, and 9 --or so). They made the job easier and we paid them well above standard wages for the job because they are good kids and really helped us out, so to me, a great investment and well worth it.
Have you put up any hay this year? What kinds of challenges were you faced with?