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.