Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Logistics of Hay, Part 4 - Hay Storage

We've been getting our hay in large rounds for over a year now.  Although I like the ease of working with the smaller square bales, it's just too expensive that way.

The mule barn can hold eight round bales (more if we stacked them, but I'm a bit leery of having them 2-high), but with this year's drought and last year's still crisp in our minds, we stocked up.  Bought six bales earlier this spring and got another ten bales over a month ago, and there were still two in the barn.

Since we don't have enough barn area to store all the bales up at the barn, we had to do something to get the remaining bales under cover.  Granted, you don't have to have them covered up, but it most definitely decreases the likelihood of them getting mold or mildew.

Last year, we brought two round bales to the house for the goats.  In order to make it easier to get the hay off the roll, Paul tipped them on end so I'd just have to walk around the bale and peel off hay as I went.  We put tarps over the bales to protect them from the weather and figured the hay was safe that way.  The first roll was fine, but when I got to the second roll, I untarped it and found mildew/mold all around it.  Not that it was totally unexpected, but what I didn't expect was to find that the mildew went ALL the way through the bale.

Normally, if round bales are stored outdoors, they are on their sides.  I thought this was just because it was how it came off the bailer and made it easier to move (i.e. roll) them around.  But apparently they are also stored this way to help with shedding rainfall.  I know this now.

Since our bales were tipped on end, any water or moisture that happened to get under the tarps just drained down into the center of the bale.  Then add the fact that it was tarped, what moisture was in there wasn't able to evaporate because of the tarps on top.  Wonderful environment to promote mildew and mold.

So Paul ended up rolling the $65 bale of hay down the hill.  Pretty expensive mulch, hugh?

Anyways, back to this year's hay.

Since we had six bales that wouldn't fit in the barn, Paul made some cattle panel hoop houses for them:

Although you can't see it, there is a wood pallet under each bale.  This will keep the bottoms relatively dry and as a bonus, the bales can be moved with the forks on the tractor.  We still need to get another tarp or two in order to cover the end bales.  Everything else we already had here on the homestead, so it really didn't cost us anything "extra".

The end bale is tipped up on end so I can peel the hay away.  There's a tarp directly above, not on it, so there is still air circulation to keep mildew / mold at bay.  As I go through each bale, we'll just take a panel hoop and tarp off, remove the t-posts, tip the next bale on end, and open the new bale.  The materials would just go back into our homesteading inventory until we needed them again.

I was thinking that we would have a shed roof put on the ends of Paul's building (you know, the one in our dreams) to store our hay, but honestly, I think I would be more than happy with using this Hay Hoop House from now on.


  1. CR,

    Now that's a great way to stash you hay and prevent mold and mildew.

  2. I LOVE this idea! Hoop houses are very versatile! I would have never known about the moisture going down through the middle...

  3. That looks like it will do the job! I also didn't know the right way to store the bails to shed water, thanks for that.
    I'm beginning to think your trying to work poor Paul to death over there! :-)

  4. Don't you just love cattle panels. They are useful for so many things. I didn't know that about round bales, so the info was appreciated. Also your storage method. We've hated to buy square bales (because as you say, they are more expensive) but didn't think we had a way to store round ones. Thanks to your idea, now we do!

  5. Good idea! Reminds me of a winter "sunroom for chickens", but it was closed in and had small bales amd clear plastic...

  6. Necessity is the mother of invention!? Great idea for storing your round bales! Boy, what homesteader wouldn't give a lot (money excluded 'cause we ain't got enough of that!) for adequate storage areas. For machinery, tools, stockpiled items, hay and straw, feed, vehicles, animals . . . okay, I'll stop now.

  7. I see hay stored in our area the same way.

  8. Cattle panels+tarps+duct tape+baling twine = the sky's the limit! I love cattle/hog panels. And pallets, too. That's a great solution for round bale storage.

  9. Hey CR,

    Thanks for checking in on me. Life fell apart in a big way and I'm trying to put the pieces back together as best I can. I'm sorry I'm not up to posting right now. Thanks for caring, I appreciate that more than you can know.

  10. Great storage plans! And Tina, I too had wondered.... post when you are ready and I will have you in my prayers for whatever struggles you are having :)

  11. Super storage idea! We just leave ours exposed to the elements on their sides. You do loose just the outer layer which isn't too bad. If hay is put up to moist, it will mold even under roof.

  12. How does this hold up when it snows

  13. How does this hold up when it snows