Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Hay Is In

327 bales are now stacked at the edge of the hay field, and they are tarped. What a relief it is to know that is finished for the year. And not a drop of rain on any of it.

We don't have a hay barn yet. So every year we try different places and methods to store the hay. This year we decided to stack the square bales along the edge of the field, which sits right alongside the road. So getting the hay off the field went faster than usual this year. Clancy drove the Bobcat with the extra huge bucket. The boys filled it with bales, and then we all stacked the hay once it arrived at the main stack. I have to say the boys did a great job. And they maintained enthusiasm for the work. That is the part that gives me the most hope for their future. Stacking hay is hot, sweaty, itchy work. And they were willing to do it.

Maybe it was the rides across the field in the bucket. That's always fun. For some reason the wildlife is always interesting during stacking too. The boys discovered three incredibly large unique spiders. One was a gorgeous wolf spider with a color we had never seen before. Millions of baby crickets were everywhere. Our old friend, the red tailed hawk was circling above. Whenever we get machinery out in the hay field that hawk shows up to exploit the frightened mice. Along the edge of the forest we also saw a delicate yellow/greenish bird. I think it was a warbler. It flew in right next to us (we were taking a break in the shade of the forest) and I was amazed at how tiny it was. A large insect was in it's beak. The tiny bird hopped around on some foliage near the ground, chirping a bit. Then a tiny baby version, even smaller than "Dickie," hopped up onto the branch, accepted the food, and then both were gone. The baby hopped back into the thick coverage of the forest floor and the parent flew off.

When the work was done, we were fairly beat. We were going to go swimming, but it seemed too hard to get going again once we came in the house and sat down with popcicles. Clancy and I fell asleep while the boys watched a movie. We woke up around 7pm. Maybe tomorrow I'll take the boys swimming.
I did the math, though. At $2 a bale (the going rate) our hay crop could have brought us $654. And the buyers would have probably cleaned off the field for us. We used to sell our hay this way. As it is now, I keep the hay for the sheep. I'm pretty sure that in any one year I've never even come close to seeing $650 from sheep sales; wool, meat, and live animals combined. In the past I've maintained that the sheep flock is not a hobby but an investment in our farming. Now that I've crunched the numbers, it's pretty clear I have a lot of work to do to make the sheep a viable venture. Or I should cut back to a couple of fiber pets and not work so hard. Lots and lots of things to think about.....More about this later. Supper is on the table.

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