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!



Hay man! Where’s the sun?
July 2, 2015, 9:37 am
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Ripe and ready

Ripe and ready

July, 2 2015

The rains keep falling, the grass keeps growing. The clovers and hay grasses continue to ripen. It will be all fine, but I’d sure like to be making dry hay soon. We are making “wet” bales so all is not lost. This will make some very nice winter time feed. The succulent plants, harvested at their peak, provides high protein feed that smells wonderful. Opening a bale when the snow is deep, as the winter wind whips your face, is almost fun. The sweet smelling hay crop reminds me the days of summer. The worries of making a hay crop…gone! So, the lesson is…be patient. It will all work out.

The pastures are growing great. All this rain keeps the grass in top shape. We are mowing the lawn almost every three days. There is no sign of the dry July grass and lawn burnout. I’m sure it will come, but not this week 😮 Soon, the sun will shine and lots of work will need done all at once. Farmers like myself will be scrambling waiting for a rainy day and the rest that comes with it. Until then, I keep clicking things off my list, some projects not scheduled until fall, but they are complete none the less.

I see a few jobs that will slide of my list until the late cool days of fall. Grass and weeds are taking over the edges of the farm. I generally keep these areas mowed, but to date, they have been wet and saturated. I will get them sooner or later, but this year it will be later! The speltz are ripening quickly. Soon the “amber waves of grain”, will be calling me to harvest. This is a mid-summer job and much to my surprise … It is mid-summer!



Throwing Stones
June 22, 2015, 9:01 pm
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
Limestone added to get rid of the mud

Limestone added to get rid of the mud

June 22, 2015

Upon removing the old shelves that have held our storage tanks for the last four years, that whole area was soft and muddy. I threw limestone there to make for a much better walkway. Part of our floor is pea gravel that had been added when we built the sugarhouse. It has worked well, but is disappearing into the ground. This new layer of limestone, gives everything a fresh look. It also holds up a portly farmer with small feet 😮

Today was hot and muggy, but a good breeze blew for most of the day. I baled some “wet” bales for a neighbor. These “wet” bales will be wrapped in plastic and turned into silage. A sweet smelling, high protein feed for cattle and sheep, silage is a great crop, especially now when the hay drying days of summer are fleeting. This grass gets mowed one day and left to wilt down. The next day it is raked, baled and wrapped in plastic. Sealed up without the presence of oxygen, the bale ferments.

This process is old, but the balers and wrappers are fairly new. I am helping a neighbor in exchange for using this high priced equipment. I, however, have an idea. I read about silage being made in very poor countries by filling plastic bags with wet grass. The bags are sealed with a knot then tape. They are stored under the beds in mud huts until needed to feed the family cow or water buffalo. This low input method of making silage is right on my radar screen… more to follow 😮

I am sure that when I am out in my barnyard stuffing bales into large plastic bags, a farm neighbor will drive by and snicker at my attempts to make silage. I am sure it will work…so I will laugh all winter long while feeding this awesome forage to my livestock. My friendly “snickerers” should remember folks in glass houses should not throw stones!