Monday, October 3, 2011

The Logistics of Hay

It shouldn't really be this difficult.  You know.  Getting grass to your critters.

But it can be.  And it is here.  It's just grass for gawdssakes!  You know, that green stuff that people mow in their front lawns (to be thrown into compost piles, or into the garbage, or left to blow around the neighborhood!) or brushogged by the Highway Department and spewed onto the streets (my goats could be eating that!!!).  How can something so common, so boring, so completely growing everywhere, be such a nightmare and cause of elevelated blood pressure for livestock owners?

After finding out that our hay guy had sent "our" hay to Texas, I was scrambling through the phone book and searching the local papers to find hay.  I was able to find eight large square bales (what I thought were 4x4) of a decent mixed grass hay at the local feed store for $65 a bale (ouch!) and we went to pick it up last weekend.

I brought the camera to take some pictures and Paul asked if I was going to blog that we finally got hay.  I told him that I probably would.  And he said something to the tune of, "Are you going to tell them we just got hay, or how it REALLY is?" 

Meaning that it's never just as simple as, "Oh, we picked up hay for the mule today".  And to give Paul credit (which he deserves lots and LOTS of for putting up with me), I'd like to give you HIS portrayal of what it takes to simply "get hay".  So here's....

Paul's Take
  • Move a half-dozen vehicles and trailers around to access the trailer to be used to haul the hay.
  • Find out that the window on the truck was open during an overnight rain and go back to the house to get towels to soak up the water from the carpets. 
  • Hook up truck to trailer and make sure brake lights / turn signals are working properly.  Which they are not.  Because a frekking packrat has chewed through the wires.
  • Go back to house to get tools.
  • Fix trailer light wires and hook trailer up to truck.
  • Fix / fill tire that was supposed to be fixed the last time trailer was hooked up.
  • Find tie-down straps and re-roll them because they were just tossed into the truck the last time.
  • Drive truck / trailer and car up to the mule barn.  Then everyone gets in truck to go to feed store.
  • Wait for employee on fork truck to load eight bales of hay while making sure Carolyn & Rhiannon stay away from the eight-hundred pound, bone and internal organ crushing hazards.
  • Mention to Carolyn that those aren't 4'x4' bales of hay, but 3'x3 bales (she told me they were 4's, so now we're getting less hay than I though for the sixty-five bucks)
  • Watch employee refill propane tank on fork truck in order to finish loading hay.
  • Tie down bales of hay.
  • Drive to mule barn.  Everyone exits truck & enters car.
  • Drive home.
  • Take bucket off tractor front end and put forks on.  Check air pressure in tractor tires.
  • Drive tractor to mule barn.
  • Unstrap bales of hay.
  • Unload bale of hay onto tractor forks, move to barn door and position hay in barn by using straps and chains as tractor will not fit through barn door.
  • Repeat another seven times.
  • Drive tractor onto trailer.
  • Strap tractor down & drive back home.
  • Arrive home and have Carolyn say, "What took you so long?"
  • Blood pressure rises.  Resist urge to say something nasty.  Procure alcoholic beverage.

I look at the above steps and realize that there are still things missing.  Mundane things you don't really think about, but that still require time and effort.  That list is pretty long, and boring.  But that was kind of the point of writing it out. 

Getting hay isn't as simple as, well, "Getting Hay".  Unless, of course, you have the hay delivered to you. 

Which might be a good idea next time.


  1. When I was a kid, the farm that I worked at baled their own hay and it was a 1 person "toss it size" so when you said a 3x3 bale I was thinking "this little teeny tiny bale was $65"? (So glad you included the picture) Boy, have things changed! I expect time wise it was a 1/2 day event too.

  2. Nothing is easy if it has to do with hay, animals, farming, or getting up in the morning. Thank goodness you found some, in any event!

  3. I don't think I've EVER hooked up a trailer, any trailer, and had the lights work right off the bat. lol

    Glad you did find some hay, though.

  4. I agree with Susan AND Tina! LOL!!
    Glad you were able to get some hay.

  5. Having it delivered is easier......but you still have to have the tractor with the front end loader gassed up and working. You have to unload the hay and put it in the barn yourself! Nothing about farming is really quite as simple as it appears!

  6. Tami, let's HOPE it doesn't get that expensive this winter!!

    Susan, no it isn't easy when you add animals to your homesteading projects. Still looking for some more hay for the goats, so we're not out of the woods yet.

    Tina, I don't do the hooking up of vehicles, but now that you mention it, I DONT think he's ever "just" hooked something up, there is always something involved that wasn't planned for.

    Scott / Pam, Just ONE of your days??? :)

    Candy, we were glad we got what we got, even at $65.

    gld, delivery would have taken SOME of the hassle out of it, but then it would have cost something like another $80 and we're cheap!

  7. Oh, I can so relate to this post! We've been going round and round lately trying to figure out why every single thing we do seems to take about 4 times as long as we think it will. I could write nearly as long a list about simply getting in the truck, driving to the back storage area, hooking up the flat bed trailer, pulling it up by the garage and positioning it to use as a work space for butchering chickens this weekend. Simple, huh? Nope. You know what I mean. You can probably fill in the blanks of all that simple job entailed. Some funny things; some just frustrating. And we didn't even leave the property!

  8. Have you been watching us get hay? lol

  9. You just described every major undertaking we do here! UGH! Why can't anything be simple?!

  10. I think the alcohol was well deserved at the end...