My previous batch of hay got spoiled by rains while still in the field, although it did get used as compost and mulch, so not it was not a total loss. Last week, with a clear forecast and some time off from the day job, I spent two mornings scythe cutting and a half hour here and there with the hay fork in the afternoons turning and spreading to help it dry.
It was glorious weather this time and the hay turned out lovely. Gwen and I were able to drive the truck into the fields thanks to the dryness and fork up some rather impressive loads into the bed. Stacking is an art and as well as a science. If you simply lump it all in, the top will eventually slide right on off the pile. You’ve got to layer and spread it into the corners evenly, then tamp it/thump it to facilitate an interlocking. A nicely woven pile with have a fluid quality to it, not unlike a waterbed really. The hay will ripple outward when hit.
Yes, that is where the term “hit the hay” comes from! People used sleep on hay and would kind of fluff it up before bed with a hit or two.
Our first two loads were conservative, but the third one went up a little above the cab. I rode the on top of the hay back under the shady maple tree to make sure we didn’t lose any, but I don’t think it was necessary.
Under cover, we used the trusty 23 gallon garbage can, miles of bailing twine, a lot of muscle, and some good tunes to bale up the hay. About 5% needed a redo on the slipped twine, some were “hairy” for lack of a better term, but most bales came out decently compressed and even a bit blocky. I have yet to weigh them, but I reckon they are around 15 pounds, perhaps as much as twenty. A far cry from the machine packed ones that require a heave AND a ho.
I call these “one handers.”
They are really easy to stack high onto the hay loft. Time will tell how far this amount goes into next winter, but I think the chooks and piggos will really appreciate the homemade edible bedding come December’s chill.