Probably the most important item on my “prep for winter” list was to stock up on hay for the donkeys. Since they came to the farm (rather unexpectedly) in February, my hay options were limited last year. I bought bales piecemeal at Tractor Supply and off craigslist– including once when I had a 103-degree fever and was at least half-delusional– so I was bound and determined to go in to this Winter fully prepared.
Enter, the farmers auction.
Just for reference, the last time I “did an auction” I bought the Liberty House without ever walking inside it before. I am not to be trusted at these things. (Particularly when there is livestock involved.)
Ready to go with my checkbook, registration card, and a small prayer that I wouldn’t find myself back on the farm in a few hours with fifteen goats and a cow.
To say that I had no idea what I was doing would be a small understatement. The hay auctions only run on Monday and I had to take the day off work to go to this one, so all I knew was that I had to drive out of that place with a trailer full of hay.
Then, an amazing thing happened. An angel in workboots appeared in my life and took me under her wing. Honestly, I could not have been luckier in finding a person to show me the ropes, both about how the auction worked and the hay itself. She showed me the difference first and second cuttings, and, most importantly, how to identify hoary alyssum– a weed that is toxic to horses (and donkeys), contained in some of the bales.
It was a reminder of how much I have yet to learn, and a testament to one of the things I love best about being in a small town with a lot of “farm folk”… people are willing to help, to share what they know, to lend a hand.
The most I could give in return was to help these ladies stack fifty bales of hay on the back of a pickup. Yes. Fifty. (I’m convinced that because of their hard work, the universe sometimes gives farmers a pass on the laws of physics.)
I’m also hoping I may be able to repay the favor in a bigger way in the future.
For now, I’m glad that I arrived home with actual hay, and no additional farm animals.
I mean… there was moment where a couple of piglets made a bid for freedom in the parking lot, and I seriously considered absconding with them, but as far as anyone knows I’m not currently hiding fugitive piglets. I swear.
And that is one more thing checked off my list.
Love living in a small community. It’s so nice to have people who care and lend a helping hand. And I wish you hijacked a pig, because that would be adorable.
Sooo, how many bales is enough for the winter? And where did that badass trailer come from?
I have no idea, but I’m guessing 30-40 bales will get us through winter. (The trailer is on loan from my grandpa)
That was a great story. There’s nothing better than bonding with women…and I’m sure there will be plenty you can do to pay her back. Your skill set is endless! Congratulations on this milestone…
Donkey hay is on my list for this week too! Looks like I have one more nice week of clear and cold here so got lots on my list to get done. That will be Friday’s project. I started getting those great big 3/4 ton bales a few years back. I haul one at a time in my truck and then I tie a rope around it attached to a beam in the barn and burn rubber forward – slides right off! Scoot it into place with the tractor and no bucking bales involved.
MysteryMan and I use to use the big bales, but the mini’s will overeat, so I like to be able to control their diet by giving them a couple of flakes in the morning and evening. But it was certainly much easier the other way!
Well – my source for large bales is out for the year so looks like I will be bucking bales this year after all – NOT something I am looking forward to, but I should have called a month ago I guess. Oh well. Neighbor found me some regular bales down around the corner the corner, so at least that part was easy.
and congrats on not harboring fugitive bacons! ;D
Aw. I would have liked to visit some piglets!
Care to share what the difference is between first and second cuts? During our first hay harvest last year, I assumed the first would be the best, but, from what I’ve read, the second is usually the most desirable. I’m still not clear on why.
When our children were in 4H, they took pigs, dairy feeder calves, chickens and a variety of other projects. They names they came up with occasionally reflected what they were learning… a couple of the calves were “Hamburger” and “Steak”. pigs “Bacon”, “Sausage”, Ham”. (there was also the year it was “Bevis” and “Butthead… since I did not watch TV enough to realize, I thought it was because the one liked to push you around some. Haha)… Anyway, is that why your “Nuggets” are “nuggets”? Farm life is great for all life lessons!
The Clydesdales eat me out of house and home, so getting alfalfa bales is a regular chore. Just recently I found out that for only a small fee of $20, the local feed store will deliver the bales to my house and stack them where I want them. If I get 40 bales, delivery adds only 50cents/bale. These are the 100-lb bales that I have to break open before I can stack them up by myself because lifting them is too much. OMG I am in farmer heaven now! :0
Good work! Got the chimneys rain-proofed and bat-proofed yet?
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