(post by Jason) I think I’ve mentioned before that I hate hay tarps, but in spite of my distaste we own several, the smallest of which is 36x50 feet. I’ve got a lot of experience with hay tarps which for those in the know means I have a lot of pent up reasons not to like them. Let me enumerate just a few.
Hay tarps are unwieldy and are a royal pain in the rear to maneuver across a huge pile of hay on a 90 or more degree summer day.
Hay tarps don’t breathe well. This means that if the hay stored underneath is even the slightest bit damp….and in a humid climate like that found here in Tennessee the hay underneath is *always* a little bit damp……it wants to go moldy and then spoil unless it gets enough air. How do you get air into a pile of damp hay ? Well, the best way is to pile it fairly loosely and then remove the tarp. And then put it back again every time it threatens to rain. Frustrating, yes ?
Put a 50 mile an hour wind gust against the ropes holding a hay tarp on the ground and you have an instant sail. I’ve picked up the remnants of hay tarps from as far as a mile away. Of course just about the only time it gets this windy is when it’s also raining, and if the tarp blows away all the hay underneath the tarp is suddenly getting more than slightly wet. See above comment to best understand my frustrations.
Feeding out of a tarped hay pile sucks. It takes forever and a day to untie everything, move the tarp, remove the necessary number of bales, tie everything down again and finally, feed hay. If it’s windy and raining while one is trying to do this, believe me when I say the whole experience sucks infinitely worse.
The solution to ALL these problems is simple. Store the hay in well constructed hay barns on deep gravel pads. No waste, lots of air movement and no need to remove and reapply tarps. As most of you know, we built not one but TWO hay barns this summer. Unfortunately barn number two wasn’t complete before it was time to bale hay so in spite of having a hundred and sixty rolls in our new barn we had over two hundred stored under hay tarps and another hundred stored in a friend’s barn. Having this much “extra” hay allowed us the rare opportunity to sell some, and today I folded up and put away what I hope is my very last hay tarp.
Not coincidentally, I also fed out our first rolls of the fall season today. It was SO EASY and SO PLEASANT to feed hay stored in handy, convenient, purpose built barns that I almost can't wait for next week so I can do it again ! Almost is the key word here. I’m going to go find some wood and knock on it right now.