Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fun Feeding Hay

(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.

Fabrizzio, Walden and Thor

Kennedy, Toledo, Rampal and Stormy



Johnny and Rampal


Chance and Leo

Winston and Faune


I was watching Cuff Links eat hay and thinking "awww, he looks so cute" so I took his picture . . .

. . . and the a second later the ears went all the way back and he reminded those around him that he is all pony and not to be messed with!


Anonymous said...

I'm familiar with that flat-ears-in a second pony glare!

Funder said...

I have enough trouble tying a 12x25 tarp over a 5' high stack of wood - I cannot imagine how horrible full size hay tarps are. Congrats on your new freedom!

amy324 said...

We used to wrap tarps secured with bungee cords over our (4) round bale feeders every night if we thought it might precipitate in some fashion. The tarps could not be stored in the field with the horses, so it was usually slogging around in the mud, in the cold, in the dark, dragging tarps that kept getting airborne out to the round bales. It was dreadful. We finally decided that the horses were probably eating the hay fast enough that it could stand getting wet overnight. That was a glorious day and we've never looked back. People are now forbidden to say the "T" word.

Cheyenne said...

And I complain about a mere 20x 20 tarp!!
We have round bales this year, managed to buy a small tractor,(preloved!) plus spikes! So like you, its now not such a chore!

EvenSong said...

I thought you were going to tell us that you moved the whole tarped pile into the later-completed barn! Selling it sounds a lot easier (and more profitable!).
I have argued with various weights of tarps to close off the east end of my barn--I can't use anything permanent as we need to bring the harrowbeds in that end to stack may hay. The infamous Ellensburg wind quickly does them all in! This year I tried shade cloth instead of solid tarps, so the wind can actually go through the closure to some extent, and it looks like I may have finally found a solution (post coming soon). Of course, that would work for keeping a pile dry...

jenj said...

Tarps suck. No matter what you're using them for, they are unwieldy and just a pain. Sorry you have to deal with them on a daily basis!

As for Mr. Pony, I LOVE the way his adorable, fuzzy leetle pony ears just disappear when he's mad. Earless wonder!