Sunday, August 24, 2008

Old-fashioned and awesome

A few months ago, we realized that hay prices were getting out of hand. A bale of hay cost $2 six years ago. Last year, I paid $3.50 a bale. Today, you're lucky to find one for $5. I've heard of people paying $9 a bale in a town less than three hours southeast of us. Although we have a two-acre hayfield, it hasn't been producing well since the drought three years ago. We know we need about 100 bales of grass and 100 bales of alfalfa to make it through the winter.

I've been telling Mike he should get a scythe, and he finally bought one in June. Now, we both wish he would have had one for the past six years. He uses it daily. About half of our 32 acres is across a creek, so it is not accessible to modern hay equipment. We have lots of pasture that could support all of our animals if only we could get them to the forage (more fences) or bring the forage to them, which is where the scythe comes in handy.

In our pre-scythe days, we would use two to four flakes of hay at night when we brought the milk goats into the barn. Now Mike heads out with his scythe and cuts down weeds and grass. We stuff the hayfeeders overly full of all this great stuff. The goats love it, and they drink a lot less water than they do when they're eating hay, which is dry. We weigh our milk daily, and production has not gone down as a result of the new feeding regimen.

He's tried haying, but not with much luck, since we bought the scythe too late to make great hay this year. We do have four or five large bundles of dried grass, but the goats don't like it. I'm thinking they'll like it better in the middle of January. Next year, we'll be out there haying in May and June when the grass is at its most nutritious.


melanie said...

You are living my dream - I would love to be able to feed my herd by using this method - I've heard plenty of people bundle the stuff as it dries, and (like you said) the goats LOVE it in January!

Sharrie said...

I haven't read your blog in a while, and I am happy to learn that things are better now, both with Margaret and your dog. Glad to hear that you were able to figure out what was happening.

Sharrie said...

What size bales of hay were you talking about? Prices are no where near that high up here. Sorry about the second comment.

Deborah said...

That's the price for the small, square bales. I've heard Wisconsin is a lot cheaper. Seems that the farther south you go, the worse prices get. I've heard of people in Texas paying $10-20 for a small, square bale, and people out west (AZ and CA) are paying $15-20 for one!


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