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!