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.