Fun in the Hay


I’m much more involved with getting hay than I used to be. I plan it, organize it, man it, drive the truck, and even help unload. I don’t stack hay on the truck, and I don’t stack in the barn. That’s some heavy lifting. But I was up and down and in and out of three different trucks and a trailer yesterday unloading onto the hay elevator. When we arrived at the hay barn (the big hay barn, where I buy hay, not talking about my barn in this instance), I was walking around taking pictures as usual. I love that old barn. The hay man is used to me. I’ve been taking photographs of his barn for a couple of years now. Adam, one of my hired men, told him, “We call her picture woman.” But when we got back to my farm to unload, except when I took time out to take pictures and video, I was in there on top of the hay unloading down to Burgundy, one of my neighbor teenagers who was waiting for us back at my farm. I think when you hire people to help you put up hay, they respect you more if you get in there with them and work.

Hauling hay, I had Adam and Robbie with me, plus two of Adam’s little boys. They each drove a truck and they had a trailer, too. I drove my truck, and it’s the first time I’ve driven a truck with hay loaded. I was real proud I didn’t lose any getting home the first trip. We don’t have to talk about the second trip, except that man who stopped to help me pull the bales out of the road was very kind. And Adam and Robbie didn’t even laugh that hard when they came up on me.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the big hay barn, because I can’t help myself, and back at my barn.

Please wait for the gallery to load. Press Play for the slideshow or Next to view at your own speed.


And here’s a video if you want a taste of what a day gettin’ hay is like, plus there are some pretty funny conversations in there if you listen up. Hay is hard work, but it’s satisfying. If you’ve got some entertaining people with you, it’s kinda fun, too–and Adam and Robbie are one entertaining pair. I’d put my camera back at the house by the time the little kids started riding the hay elevator up and down, but everyone had a bit of fun at the end. I wish I had a picture of Adam riding up to the loft on the elevator! (I haven’t tried it. Yet. Maybe next time!)

I got 323 bales. The new hay elevator was fantastic. I’ve probably got room in the loft for upwards of 150 more, plus room for 150-200 more in a couple other places I’ve got set aside for hay on the first floor of the barn. I’m shooting for a minimum 600 total to get set for winter. Yesterday was the first day of summer and I made it more than halfway!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on June 21, 2012  

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26 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 6-21

    It is an incredible about of work to do hay. Until you’ve done it, cutting, fluffing, praying for it to not rain, baling it, you can not fathom the effort. And the expense, the lime for the fields, the fertilizer, then sidedress after each cut, and now praying FOR rain. The equipment, the maintenance, the fuel for the tractors, the storage, it’s immense. Hay was like gold here last year because of the drought. It’s better this year, $5-6 a bale in the field, will be closer to $10 dead of winter. But I will say there is a huge pride in a barn full of hay. And the smell, if they could bottle that, I’d spray my sheets with it everyday. I love your hay elevator, that is so cool. Post some closer up pictures when you get pictures of the kids riding it next time please.

  2. 6-21

    Great job and great photos! I need to learn to find help :-) I load, haul, and unload and stack my 250 bales all by myself one pickup load at a time. Not very efficient but it helps work off all that goat milk and cheese :-)

  3. 6-21

    Kathy, wow, hay is expensive where you are!! I pay 2.50/bale out of the barn.

  4. 6-21

    Smoking in a hay barn? Hope you have a back-up supplier. :bugeyed:

  5. 6-21

    I know, he’s always smoking in his hay barn!

  6. 6-21

    That’s alot of hay there! I was going to ask how much a bale is there. I just got 50 bales out of the field and got to drive my truck for the first time ever. It was $2.25 a bale. But I had to unload and stack it all myself. Plus 32 a few months ago. I just need about 150 bales. But you have horses and cows. None of those here. Just sheep and goats. And I have found that the crappier and weedier tha hay is my goats love it. If I buy expensive good hay they turn their noses up at it. Silly goats. And why is hayng time the hottest days of the year anyway?

  7. 6-21

    It’s cheaper out of the field here, too, but I’ve had trouble getting help at the right time. My hay guy is always baling on days I can’t get help.

  8. 6-21

    Looks like it all went well. So good to see the elevator set up and working perfectly. Good for you!

  9. 6-21

    I put hay up yesterday too. It was 97 degrees out side an 110 in the loft. Yes for people that has never put hay up you have to keep a good humor about it an these guys that helped you do. (makes :airkiss: it go faster)

  10. 6-21

    I just loved the sound of all that rustling hay. Don’t know why, but it makes me peaceful, kind of like kicking through a pile of fall leaves does! Hard work but I bet it feels really good to have laid in a supply of chow for the animals.

  11. 6-21

    Good for you for helping. When we used to do square bales I would help too, just couldn’t see not helping when there was so much work going on. But we all got older and the kids (20 somethings) are always running off with their kids to some sort of activities, so we do round bales now. Of course we can afford another tractor now too so that helps. :D

  12. 6-21

    I just spent 6 hours raking hay while my husband was on the other tractor baling it behind me. I’m lucky I got the tractor with the air! I just started raking but I usually drive the truck. Its hard to get help most kids don’t want to work after the first time in the hay field and we pay 8.00 an hour! We do have a couple of guys that actually love farm work so that helps. Sometimes its just my husband and I doing the work. We usually put up over 1000 bales.

  13. 6-21

    My barn is small and I can’t use the loft (DH says no….he has stuff up there) so I can just store about 120 bales at a time. Last year I was running all over the place buying where I could at up to $6.75 a bale~~and I was picking it up my DH’s pickup truck and doing all the stacking, etc. Have a new farrier this year and she and her fiance do hay too. She brought me 100 bales out of the field the day they bailed the first cut – $5 a bale plus $50 gas charge for the delivery~~~~and she helped me stack it in the barn :) I have the promise of another load when they make the last cut at the end of the season. My boys will have eaten through a fair amount of what I have by then. I’m in the ‘wish I could bottle that smell’ camp too!

  14. 6-21

    I agree with Kathy about the delicious smell of hay. We just got back from a trip through the upper West last month and it was neat to see huge stacks of hay and fields in western Washington carefully labeled with signs “alfalfa”, “timothy”, “wheat”, etc. With the grazing lands on fire in Colorado I dread the thought of the upcoming winter there.

  15. 6-21

    Just put in our next year’s-worth of horse hay (finished up the other night in the heat). We buy ours from a farmer who delivers it and helps to unload. It’s $3.50 a bale, which is about the going rate for horse-quality hay around here. Having it all in and knowing you won’t be hunting for hay in the dead of winter (and paying a premium for it) is a good feeling!

  16. 6-21

    Glad to see the Crooked Little Hen was inspecting the hay and hopefully gave her approval!

    You won’t believe how we’re doing hay this year. We have a field that’s probably the size of a football field that my husband kept mowed last year. Well, I guess the mowing kept the weeds down and we have the most beautiful hay in that field. I love to watch the wind blow it — it looks like water moving! We have a tractor but no hay baler or cutter. We used to have someone cut it for us for half of the hay, but he’s now retired and no one else wanted to do it. SO . . . my husband built this ingenious box that we rig up with twine, stuff the hay into the box, tie the strings, open the box and out comes the most beautiful bale of hay. It’s gourmet hay! Big red clover, wild strawberries and the most beautiful grasses! He started out cutting it with a weedeater really low to keep the hay long, then decided to try to brush hog. Believe it or not, the hay was so tall that the brush hog still did a fine job and he rakes it into long rows and I grab big armfuls of the hay and stuff it into the box! I’ll have to post photos. Talk about doing it the hard way, but we couldn’t let that gourmet hay go to waste! My sheepies are going to love me this winter! :sheep:

  17. 6-21

    What a beautiful old barn..thanks for sharing photos. I well remember the days of gathering hay and that wonderful aroma when you walked into the barn.
    Don’t miss the back-breaking work (we seldom had much help)and getting alfalfa was a whole different story. Heavy, heavy bales and stickery, too. But, oh that wonderful fragrance. We usually got about 300 bales of alfalfa for the goats and a once-in-a-while treat for the cattle, and about 550-600 bales of grass hay for the cattle.

  18. 6-21

    I love the golden light inside of the hay barn. Great pictures, Suzanne!

  19. 6-21

    It’s funny how pictures can bring up memories. Looking at the photos and the video I could almost smell fresh hay.

  20. 6-21

    I used to work with a guy that had a hay operation and his life was ruled by the weather. I can remember him sprinting out of the office at the drop of a hat if the Weather Channel showed rain for later in the day (we had an understanding boss)

    Around my parts, the Amish girls stack hay piece-meal. My former co-worker says they work harder than any teen boy.

  21. 6-21

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this. I never thought about how hay got into the barn loft. Cute boys, cute girl. A lot of hay!

  22. 6-21

    That was awesome! I felt like I was there. I can’t believe that little kid threw that bale down onto the truck! I love it “when men were men….”

  23. 6-21

    All I could think was, “where are their gloves?” Ouch! I did one day chucking hay bales as a teenager and that is HARD work.

    There’s no way I would have been able to stand there and watch them work without helping. It just wouldn’t seem right.

  24. 6-22

    Great pictures Suzanne! I love that old hay barn. The light is beautiful inside! And Merino Mama, I would love to see pictures of that box your husband made and the gourmet hay bales! What a great idea. We have a tractor and used to hay our field but the baler bit the dust and now we have a neighbor cut it. He keeps the hay. I have chickens but only use straw with them. And it does seem that the hay had to be baled on the hottest day of the year!

  25. 6-24

    My heart nearly stopped with that man waving his cigarette around in his barn!!! Fabulous video and pics! No better smell on earth then fresh hay tucked into your barn! Thanks for sharing! :cowsleep:
    Just curious whether the local people read your blog?

  26. 6-26

    Rain, Yes, locals read her blog, including family members of those she hires.

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