Monday, March 14, 2011

Madcap Monday -- Adventures with round bales

Since we first brought animals to the farm, we've always fed them with small square bales of hay.

Measuring approximately 3.5 ' wide by 2' by 2' and weighing between 40 to 50 lbs, they're easy to move around and use as we simply break open the bale and peel away the number of flakes needed. We've also found the hay stays fresher longer and there's less waste.

Last fall we thought 215 bales would be enough to get us through the winter, as the equines ate less than that in 2009. What we didn't anticipate was that as we were buying hay this year (versus using our own that we hired a farmer friend to cut and bale for us) the bales themselves would be much, much smaller, or at least less densely packed. And we have equines who love to eat. All the time. Total gluttons.

So there we were, nearing the end of February and rationing the last of the hay. Our hay guy was sold out of small bales for the season. We needed to take drastic action.

We needed to get a 600 lbs round bale.

Yes, we have a tractor now! Meet Rollin, a 1975 135 Massey Ferguson. More on him soon...

Having not experienced a round bale on our farm, the equines weren't sure what to make of it.

When they realized it was food, their instincts kicked in.

Cinder got this crazed look in her eyes and started chewing along the top like it was a cob of corn.

Lee rubbed up his head against the side of the bale while making these deep guttural, ecstasy-induced sounds.

Gall, usually the most respectable one of the bunch, shoved his whole head into it.

But alas, a day after bringing the bale into the barnyard, we discovered there was a big rainstorm coming. We didn't want to leave the bale uncovered as we knew it would get ruined in the rain, especially as it was tipped onto its side.

Lucas moved it into the barn's first run-in, hoping we could salvage most of it. The equines had other plans.

The barn now has a lovely communal bed/snack bar/depository of poop/duck roost.

And I'm shopping for more hay... and a cheap used round bale feeder. Or maybe we'll just go back to small bales.


Mama Pea said...

Nothing ever goes quite as smoothly as it should, does it?

I am not showing my husband this post because it will send him into deep depression. He so badly wants an older tractor with a bucket on the front. Finding one anywhere within 300 miles up here near the non-farming tundra is proving to be impossible. Sigh. Looks as if you've gotten yourselves a beauty.

Fiona said...

You're right, Mama Pea, but I'm learning to expect - and laugh about - things not going smoothly!

And Rollin is a lovely old tractor, even though he's loud and a bit stinky. We've been talking about getting a small tractor for a long, long time and despite wanting to live as light an existence as we could, we decided we needed to get some more muscle on the farm. My dad helped us with a loan and a farmer friend help us find the tractor. We've only had it for a couple of weeks and we're having some trouble with it leaking oil, which is why I haven't properly introduced him yet. Stay tuned!

laura said...

Totally relate to the hay debacle! Goats love hay, but once it's on the ground they won't eat it. It's such a waste, so I invented a hay hanger: it's a tube of fencing, closed at the bottom, open at the top. I hang it in their little goat barn, stuffed full of hay, and they pull it out through the space in the fencing. Really cut down on waste. But that would be really hard to do with a round bale.

Fiona said...

It's so true about goats, Laura -- there are wasteful -- and picky! -- little beasties sometimes! I find it 'funny' that folks think goats will eat anything, when they won't even eat hay that's touched the ground. I like the idea of your hanger but yes, it would be tricky with a round bale. I think we'll go back to small bales next year -- round ones are pretty cumbersome, for us at least.

Erin said...

Oooh, that old tractor is awesome! Our dream is an old Farmall, but sadly there aren't any in our extended family for us to inherit LOL. I had no idea you had horses in addition to my favorite donkeys!

Fiona said...

Yes, the tractor is pretty cool,,, kinda like your awesome vintage sewing machine!!!
Not horses, just horse -- An old (28ish) thoroughbred named Gallagher. They're like the three amigos... or maybe more like the three stooges...

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