I guess in a normal year I wouldn't be so hay-anxious, but as most of you know firsthand, droughts across the country have been not only sending hay OUT of areas that had plenty of hay, but driving the costs UP. It's not like our standard operating procedure is to constantly scrounge for hay, or have a J.I.T. kind'a system set up for livestock feed. On the contrary, I do all I can to cram extra hay and grain in whatever type of storage system I can manage. But last year we were, well, screwed to put it lightly. Before the first cutting, we met the guy doing the hay cutting (he cuts & bales for thousands of acres around here) saw the pasture the hay was coming from, agreed that we would buy a trailer load (14 round bales) and he would deliver it (giving him a chance to make some more money, and relieving Paul of having to do it). I kept in touch with him on a weekly basis. But there seemed to be never-ending excuses, some of which were obviously true (the drought), but others not so believable. He promised to call when the bales were ready for delivery. After not hearing for him for some time, I called him. He said that he sold everything because he didn't think that the hay would be good enough for us. What??? To say I was pissed would be an extreme understatement.
So back to our hay acquisitions this past year. After finding the not-so-much-ours hay was more than likely on it's way to Texas, we were able to get eight not-so-large bales (3'x3' instead of 4'x4'......but for the same price, of course) to add to the two large rounds we had in the barn. But as the months went by it was obvious that it was going to be a very close call to make it through to the first spring cutting. My hay panic attacks were back.
So this past fall and winter I have been on a constant lookout for hay. Or let me be a little more specific; hay that didn't look like it had been sitting out in a field for a year and been used as cattle bedding beforehand. I couldn't believe the stuff people were selling as "hay". Maybe sub-par animal bedding, or the makings for a good compost pile, but definitely nothing I would want my animals to be eating.
Two weeks ago I drove by the local feed store and saw that they had several large round bales in the parking lot and about a dozen in the back. Only a few hours later I drove back by the store and the ones in the front lot were gone. I immediately called Paul at work and told him that we'd have to make an early morning run the next day to get some hay before the rest were sold. I called the feed store first thing in the morning only to find out that they were already gone; they sold almost twenty bales in less than 12 hours.
Two days later I was passing the feed store again and went in to get a bag of goat chow. Not that we were out of goat food, but I figured since I was passing by anyhow I'd just get another bag (and honestly, sometimes I just gott'a go shopping, even if it's only at the local feed mill). When I was in there I overheard one of the employees on the phone saying something about a hay delivery first thing Monday morning. When she hung up, I apologized for my eavesdropping, but said I couldn't help but overhear that there might be more hay in. She said they were expecting a trailer load, but didn't know what kind of hay nor what the price would be. Hoping for the best, I said thanks and went on my merry way. At least there was another chance of us getting more hay.
Monday morning came around and I called the feed store. They had hay in! They hadn't had a chance to price it yet, but I told them I'd be right over and wait if I had to. I packed Rhiannon into the truck and we zipped out to the store and there were already two other customers there for the same reason I was. I bought three bales of "OK" looking hay for $65 each (last year they were $50 and much better quality). We patronize that feed store often so they were willing to hold on to them until Paul could pick them up later that evening. One went into the mule barn, the other two came to the house for the goats No more hauling hay in the back of the car, whoo-hoo!
|We really need to get a better storage solution for goat's hay.
Hopefully this year won't be as nerve wrecking as last year.
And the moral of this story? Don't count your bales until they're in the barn!