Hay Fever


Hay. Not straw. Hay. Yes, I have had some trouble with the difference between straw and hay in the past. WHAT?! They aren’t the same?! Yes, I am such a country girl. I totally know the difference now. Except, not really. What IS straw? No idea. But you don’t feed straw to animals. Straw is bedding. Hay is food. Used to, in my olden suburban days, I would get a bale of hay, straw, whatever to set out in front of the house to decorate for fall. Put pumpkins and scarecrows on top of it. Have no idea whether it was straw or hay. It looked pretty. WHATEVER.

But when you have animals, you have to figure out the difference. At least long enough to know what to put where for bedding and what to put where for food.

You don’t even want to see me trying to get into a bale of hay. Or straw, for that matter. I usually start with an ax, hacking at the bale. Because I forget to bring a knife or scissors with me to cut the twine that holds the bale so tightly together it’s like it’s glued. After I hack at it for a few days running, I remember to bring something to cut the twine with me the next time I go out.

No, really, I’m this stupid. It comes naturally.

Luckily, there is rarely anyone around to watch me hacking at a bale of hay, straw, or whatever with an ax because I do most of the animal tending around here. Princess helps, sometimes, but the boys? They barely give the goats the time of day. They have so many teenagerish things to do! Which is just as well because I don’t need anybody making fun of me. I have enough trouble with goats staring at me while I’m hacking at their whatever. I’m sure they know better and they wonder why I’m such a dimwit and if they will possibly survive under my caretaking.

However, there’s nothing like some fresh hay to take their minds off the matter.

With snow on the ground and little growing, they are eager for their hay. They bury their faces in their food tray.

And let hay hang out of their mouths like they’re toddlers plowing into a spaghetti dinner.

I restuffed the manger full of hay yesterday. They were soooo excited.

Like they’d never seen hay before.

And then I saw something I hadn’t noticed before. Look at that! NUTMEG!!!!!

She is not watching her girlish figure.

That’s Nutmeg on the left here, Clover on the right. Nutmeg is still, stature-wise, quite a bit smaller than Clover and yet–

“CLOVER!! Pay attention! Nutmeg is getting…..er….PLUMP!”

“Okay, okay, I know. You’re busy. Munching. SOME KIND OF EXAMPLE YOU ARE.”

They make so much noise when they are munching hay. Which seems a little odd. It doesn’t look that crunchy….

It is kinda moving, though…..


He does this. Abruptly. Without notice. He’s sneaky.

Nutmeg and Clover? They may be, er, plump, but they are demure. They eat their hay at the manger like they are pulled up to a linen-draped table at the Waldorf-Astoria. Okay, like spaghetti-plowing toddlers at the Waldorf-Astoria.

But Honey?

He manger-dives.

Suddenly the hay will be moving and it’s Honey.

In the middle of the manger. Like he just jumped into his giant bowl of spaghetti. What toddler wouldn’t want to do that?

Then he sneaks back out. Possibly ashamed of his greediness. Or not. Probably not.

Animals are so basic.

Everything’s right there on the surface, for all to see. They shout to the world, I LOVE HAY. They’d have a bumper sticker if they could drive. It’s their favorite thing. At least today. Tomorrow it might be another molasses cookie, but on a snow day, the grass covered and unfit to eat, it was hay.

And, you know, my shirt.

No matter how much hay they eat, they can always fit in a bite of my shirt………..

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on November 21, 2008  

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28 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 11-21

    Hay!The little babies were just a little hungry. Honey looks so cute sittin right in the middle of all that hay. Snowed in IN today but not much,but the dampness and wind are bone chilling.

  2. 11-21

    I just found your site and I love it! It’s 4am and I’m sitting here laughing out loud! You have a great sense of humor!

  3. 11-21

    Every farm woman needs a yellow handle (in case you drop it, you can find it easily) Case knife in her back pocket, at all times!!! :thumbsup: http://www.wrcase.com/knives/view_all/browseview2.php?Family=“Yellow%20Handle”&View=1&Item=0161

  4. 11-21

    Hay – differant types of grass’s cut and dried for animals to eat… :)

    Straw is the stems of Oats after they have been ‘gleaned’ that are then bailed for bedding…. :)

    Dont kid yourself, people do use straw as food because they dont always get all of the oats off of the stem. So when they are bailed there is a good chance that the oat is in the bail – some people bail ‘straw’ without ever gleaning it and make oat hay. :) How confused are you now!!!! LOL I love Honey, he makes me want to kiss him.

  5. 11-21

    I had the same thought, WV… could Honey be up to no good? :lol:

  6. 11-21

    They are too sweet! I especially love the shirt-biting!

  7. 11-21

    Straw is the stems, etc left over from harvesting grains like wheat, oats and rye. Hay is different types of geen plants (beans are a legume) specifically grown for feed, and cut preferably just before going to seed and dried/cured so that nutrients remain in the grass. Some grasses/legumes make better hay–alfalfa, clover, timothy, and orchardgrass are some that come to mind. Some people are really into growing perfect hay, others just bale up whatever grows in their meadows. As my old neighbor Dan used to say, anything beats snowballs!

  8. 11-21

    I’m with Cathy J. You gotta have a pocket knife for your back pocket. You’ll use it more than you think.

  9. 11-21

    :butterfly: Suzanne, you grab one piece of twine, with the bale in front of you. Pull it toward you and knee the middle of the bale, while pulling, and it will come off. Then there is only one piece left, and it fluffs out like a fan! Or, a nice hook to twist until it breaks. Ok country girl? The knife is way too practical! Have a great weekend!! :purr:

  10. 11-21

    :weather: How cute! I bet the goats are eating some hay this morning with the snow we got last night! They are adorable! :weather:

  11. 11-21

    I had no idea on the differnce either…Clover is so cute. I’ve heard that goats smell really bad…is that true?

  12. 11-21

    I love the pics of little ruminants burying in hay…so cozy. I’m off to feed my beasties…

    Cathy J…thanks for the Case site. I’ll be getting son#1 and son #2 these for Christmas. and maybe myself.

    stay warm..it’s cold in Iowa, but sunny!

  13. 11-21

    I have the same issues with my haybales. Always forget the knife! (gotta get me one of those yellow handled things!)

    Anyway, I use a piece of old twine and pull it under one of the lengths of twine holding the bale together. Grab each end of the old twine in each hand and “saw” back and forth. Cuts right through the binding twine. Yes, a knife is faster, but it works well in a pinch. (which is most of the time I’m getting hay)

    As soon as the holidays are over, I’m getting out to the barn and building a stall for some ND goats!

  14. 11-21

    Dejoni, bucks do have an odor, but I don’t have any of those. (Honey is a wether–neutered male. Wethers don’t have the buck odor.) My girlies and Honey don’t stink. Their goat yard is the front yard and their night pen is right under the front porch and I never notice anything! (It helps if you keep their pen cleaned out regularly, too, of course.)

  15. 11-21

    I love coming here in the morning, one of my first stops, and finding pics of the goats! It’s so much sweeter than what I find in MY yard (bears, coyotes . . .)

  16. 11-21

    Hi Suzanne,

    Love your blog. With all the baking and the animal care, children, when do you find time to write? Great food pictures, by the way.


  17. 11-21

    Love those sweet little goat faces! I know there is s difference between hay and stray…but I’d sure never be able to look at some and figure out which was which!

  18. 11-21

    :mrgreen: Nutmeg has HIPS!!!! LOL Aren’t they the CUTEST things!!!! I love Honey in the manger, eating..little stinky!!! :mrgreen: PRECIOUS! :sheepjump:
    I have and had no idea between Hay and straw either. :mrgreen:

  19. 11-21

    Good morning goats! Thanks for the sweet goat pictures.

  20. 11-21

    I adore your goats! I just went to NC for a short visit with my sister, who lives “out in the country” with her big dog. Her backyard neighbors and best friends raise & train Aussies (they have 8 of them) but also have 2 full-sized goats who really believe they are also dogs. It was my first introduction to the dog-goats, and they are hilarious. But yours are the best… :catmeow:

  21. 11-21

    I think I’ll put up an I LOVE HAY sign for my horses! Love the goats’ antics, especially honey diving in!

  22. 11-21

    Oh, your kids are growing so fast. :)

    Honey knows what he wants and he goes after it. He’s very alpha-goat, except for, you know, not having doodles anymore.

    BTW, how are Coco’s paws?

  23. 11-21

    I learn something every time I come here :yes: I love the “honesty” of animals and they really are such a joy no matter what species (except maybe some of the human persuasion lol).

  24. 11-21

    I think my favorte pictures are the ones where they have hay in their mouths. *G*

  25. 11-21

    Cute pics!
    The ones of HONEY in the manger are adorable.

  26. 11-21

    I love all of the photos!

  27. 11-25

    Great job with this blog Suzanne — your layout, writing, and photos are all top-notch and very entertaining. I started keeping goats just this year and my family and I have a Honey here on our homestead too, only she’s a yearling doe. Huckleberry, her twin, is a whether, and their mother is Maple is our dear herd queen.

    One thing that I noticed in one of your pics was that there was cords of bailing twine near the manger. I’ve read on a goat list-serve that I’m subscribed to of one farmers unfortunate experience with a goatie that ate a short length of the nylon stuff and ended up having to be put down. Plastic bags can also block up their rumens and send them into distress. Since reading his story I’ve been watching like a hawk for the twine that I had never really paid attention to before.

    Please keep up the good work!

  28. 11-25

    Hi, David! Thank you! I’m going to cut that twine off today!

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