RicelandMeadows


Second Time Around

balage2017

August 3, 2017

The second cutting hay had grown thick and lush. This field was an almost pure stand of red clover. It was just beginning to blossom. It was a beautiful stand. I hired a local Amish man to mow, bale and wrap this crop. There was also another seven acres of trefoil in an adjoining field. He did indeed accomplish the work. He did a good job in a timely fashion.

My Amish friend is of a “new order” sect. They are allowed to use tractors and modern equipment according to his church and their beliefs. I watched him from the porch as I continue to recover from my knee surgery. It was an oxymoron! My big draft horses are standing in the barn, waiting to work. This man was zipping around my field, over the space of two days, with well over $70,000.00 worth of equipment. All of my hay tools together cost less than his mower!

The bales wrapped in singles will be easy to feed. This high protein hay will take the place of grain in my grassfed beef. The sweet smelling bales are a real treat for the cows. They really boost their diets in the dark, cold days of winter. We will move these bales closer to the feedlot in a few days, once we make a place for them.

To make good baleage, first you need a good crop. The hay/grass is cut and left to wilt in the sun. It is baled the very next day, sometimes even the same day. The high moisture content in the bales ferments after it is wrapped preserving the high quality forage. I am pleased to hay the bales in my feed inventory, but doubt that I will ever lay out the cash needed to buy the necessary equipment to make them on my own. This is a job that is better to hire done.

Our crazy wet weather patterns do make it a challenge to make dry hay. You have to really “make hay when the sun shines!” All other work comes to a stand still and dry hay becomes your only focus. You push yourself, the hay and even, in my case, the horses as I rake and fluff the hay to dry before it rains. Making these “wet” bales is a great option, but for now it is not cost effective for me, on our small farm, to own the equipment ourselves.

It was fun to watch the bales being made. My grandson enjoyed it too. Things like watching bales being wrapped, big mowers hogging down 13 foot of hay at a time, or a speedy baler rolling out round bales in rapid succession never gets old for guys like he and I….But I will say, we both much prefer to work with horses…a little slower? Perhaps….but much more cost efficient!



Going Green!
May 3, 2017, 10:51 pm
Filed under: May 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

goingreen517

May 3, 2017

This field is out behind my pig barn. It is where my small sheep flock spent the winter. It was my idea to keep them close, give them shelter and have them work for me all winter. By working, I mean they were eating grass. The grass was under the snow some of the winter. In spring, they kept it in check so as not to get too far ahead of me during the spring flush. I didn’t expect to see the hay growing as fast as it is this year, but man was this ever a good idea.

I make mostly “dry” hay. I need the hot sun to wilt, then cure the hay. The sun and even the dry dirt, sucks the moisture out of the drying grass. When the hay ripens in early June, its not often anymore that we have the drying days needed to make nice hay. Many farmers, including me, have to make baleage or wet wrapped in plastic bales. This makes great livestock feed. It is silage. The problem is, silage should not be fed to horses.

The sheep eating the grasses and clovers has slowed this field down a bit. It is hard to tell however, because the recent rain, hot humid weather and balanced soil is making this hay grow like mad! It is a good problem, but may put the push on once good hay making weather gets here. The sheep are currently in another hayfield knocking it back some. They are up to their necks in lush grass. The ewes are in milk….the baby lambs think they are in heaven. They are growing very, very well!

It is hard to believe that this early in May we have grass this lush, this tall and this beautiful shade of green. I am pleased with my little grassland farm. I’m not fighting the mud. The oats are up. The animals are grazing. The horses and all the livestock are on pasture. It is a wonderful year so far. It’s easy for me to see that going green is truly a wonderful thing!



Hay… Man!
June 13, 2016, 8:01 pm
Filed under: June 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

baleage

June 13, 2016

That is exactly what I have been doing, hay man! I hired my neighbor to make baleage from 3 small fields this year. We made 65, 2200 pound bales and wrapped them for winter feeding. The clover mixed hay had some spelt in it too. The spelt was left behind because I must have had my combine fan open too far, so blew seed back on to the ground. It grew nicely, so why not make feed out of it. I am sure the cows will relish this come winter.

After a breakdown with my hay mower, my friend Ron “baled” me out. He came and mowed for me with his mower. Thank goodness or I would be way behind. I also would have missed my opportunity to have my bales wrapped. This machine is on the go constantly, you snooze, you lose! Well, this time I won!

After a very long day of tractor work, it felt real good to be working with the horses today. We raked eight acres of dry hay for baling tomorrow. They did well as usual. The flies were almost absent. The sun was bright, but the outside temperature was cool. A nice breeze blew on man, horses and hay. I will sleep good tonight.

rake22016