Round Bales


The past few weeks have been stressful but exciting. Moving an entire farm on the brink of winter is less than ideal. Winter preparations were interrupted by moving preparations, and the change of location has an impact on how those previous preparations work. Round bales don’t work for me at Sassafras Farm. I don’t have a tractor here right now, and I can’t handle round bales. I can’t move them around on my own, which is a serious problem. But, these round bales were already purchased, so using them is a necessity.

The round bales were on the property of a Stringtown neighbor across the river from our farm. He allowed the bales to sit on his property until I could get them. In order to get them, I had to align the correct weather, somebody with a tractor and a hay spear to lift the bales, and a trailer to haul the bales. I also had to do some Stringtown politickin’. Stringtown politics are delicate. There are approximately eight or nine property owners in Stringtown. Who is speaking to who at any given time is variable. I must brag and say that I am and always have been on speaking terms with all of them. This is not all that simple other than for the fact that I adore all of them. (Even the Ornery Angel.) However, at times when one must interact in such a way that brings together opposing parties, some extra effort is involved.

The neighbor who had the bales sitting on his property and the neighbor with the tractor and hay spear to move the bales are not on speaking terms with each other.

In order to solve this problem, I arrived with three loaves of freshly-baked Grandmother Bread. I brought a loaf of bread to the home of the neighbor with the tractor and the hay spear and assured him that it was all going to be totally okay for him to come over with his tractor and get the hay. I brought a loaf of bread to the neighbor who had the bales sitting on his property and told him and oh yeah, so-and-so is coming over with his tractor to get that hay for me, but never mind, LOOK, BREAD! For good measure, I brought a loaf of bread to the farmer friend with the trailer–in spite of the fact that he didn’t actually live in Stringtown and was outside of these shenanigans. I just wanted him to feel happy about hauling the hay.

There’s not much that can’t be solved with a loaf of homemade bread. First Ed moved the bales around some with the claw.

Then he poked one with the spear.

Round bales are wrapped tightly and can be picked up easily with the spear.

He brought each bale up to the enormous trailer and loaded it on.

The trailer was so much bigger than I expected.

When he brought the second bale on each row, he’d just push over the first one.

The trailer commander, Lonnie (who also moved the cows, sheep, and donkeys in his livestock trailer for me) and one of his big, strong grandsons oversaw the packing on of the bales as Ed brought them up on the tractor.

Stringtown traffic jam!

The trailer had to back up and let the traffic tie-up go by.

All you have to do to generate traffic on an otherwise deserted country road is begin working.

As bale after bale was loaded on the trailer, I was shocked by how many bales were going on there. I started out the day thinking I was going to move maybe four to six round bales.

Next thing you know, I was loading seventeen.

They got twelve on the bottom, five on top.

I was impressed. And slightly enamored with large equipment

They strapped everything down tight.

And I fell deeper and deeper in love with large equipment.

And then off they went to Sassafras Farm.

The real adventure began when they stopped by the road while I showed them my idea of the best place to deliver the round bales at Sassafras Farm. I had spent the past week or more deliberating on this mission. It’s wet here, WET. I finally came up with a plan to have the trailer back in to the far gate at the back of the barn yard and drop the bales there. It’s the most dry approach. There’s a slight tilt to the land, and Lonnie was worried that the t-bar on the trailer wouldn’t like that, so they tried to back in to the front of the barn yard.

And got stuck.

New neighbor friend Andy happened to stop by and had to pull them out with his truck and a chain.

After which they decided to give my idea a whirl after all.

And it worked perfectly!

I really love being my own little farm planner, and I especially love when my plans work.

Everybody was curious about the unexpected arrival in the barn yard.

And no sense waiting for the bales to get off the trailer before starting to eat.

These round bales will remain where they were dropped. I have no ability to move them. Seventeen round bales are enough to feed my two cows for four months. However, due to the exposure of the round bales in this situation, the cows are likely to move from bale to bale, and there will be more waste than usual. This is NOT ideal. Moving to a new farm on the brink of winter is not ideal in general. I’m going to do the best I can under the circumstances this year, and prepare better next year.

Lonnie and his grandson moved the bales around the best they could to at least make some semblance of organization, and to make room to keep dropping bales off the trailer. At one point, Lonnie asked me if I had a hay hook. I said, “I don’t know. Want to look in the barn?” And next thing you know he was digging around the barn and came up with a hay hook. There are so many things in the barn that were left here, and I have no idea what they are until someone picks it up and tells me. I think if I sent someone in there looking for a troupe of Vegas showgirls and a Japanese submarine, they would find that, too.

But until then–

I have round bales!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on December 12, 2011  

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32 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 12-12

    Such a beautiful day on your beautiful new farm! Is it possible to fence off all but the end bale so the animals can’t pick around on all of them and waste so much?

  2. 12-12
    am had some great weather..and some good friends! Next thing we know you will be buying and driving heavy equipment! I feel sure there are lots of surprises to find at Sassafras Farm…now won’t that be fun? :happyflower:

  3. 12-12

    Great job getting all that done. It sounds like you have some great neighbors down your way. I loved the comment about generating traffic on a country road and it is so true.

  4. 12-12

    Congratulations on moving all that hay! So good to see the cows, too!

  5. 12-12

    I don’t know if it’s worth getting hay covers for them. It might keep the “kids” from tearing apart the least accessible bales and save them for a time and protect them from the worst of the weather… but they aren’t magic. …or maybe some cattle panels around some of them? Still expensive, but very reusable year after year.

  6. 12-12

    I was going to suggest something to cover hay. I did not realize they are called hay covers. Wow I learn alot from this blog. lol. I am amazed at all the help you got. You are a blessed woman. Also smart bribe them with homemade bread and they will come at any time. lol.

  7. 12-12

    Bread (and pie) fixes everything.

  8. 12-12

    That’s one less thing for you to do. I think that when the superboys come to do fencing you should have them figure out something for your bales. You don’t want them wasted more than usual.

  9. 12-12

    LOL, Bale Bonnets, Bale Covers, Overslips, Hay Tarps, …lots more names for ’em. :cowsleep: Usually white UV resistant heavy duty covers. Some have special pockets that PVC pipe fits through so they can be well fastened down to protect them. Some neat solutions, but not always practical in a small-farm situation.

  10. 12-12

    Suzanne–Such a nice post.
    The more I think about your experience with purchasing the new farm, it seem to be story so befitting this time of year, a person who is in need of a “place” and finding your farm just ready and waiting for you. I realize the hard work and expense that is required running a farm,( was raised by my Grandparents on their farm) but it seems as though the previous owners were just waiting for you, and all of the things they left behind to make your life somewhat easier, and I am sure you wll come across so much more when you get completley settled, things such as the hay hook and all of the little treasures. Sassafrass Farm is your destiny. I think land is wating for the right person to come along to care for it.
    Thank God for good neighbors.

  11. 12-12

    Look at THAT !!! It’s round bales and BP and GLORY BEE and everyone showing up for the moving party, not to mention that huge buffet.

    What a fun post. It amazes me Suzanne that you can take on such huge and amazing challenges and find humor in it all. And then share the fun with all of us.

    Before you know it you will have EVERYONE in Stringtown on friendly terms. Well maybe NOT, but they can’t help but have some of your personality rub off on them.

    Even though Sassafras Farm is so much better for you and the animals it still seems like such a huge amount of work, with new challenges around every corner. Hopefully you will get all the biggies done before winter so you can relax a little.

    I look forward to the next big adventure every morning and love your posts. You jump start my day.

  12. 12-12

    When I saw the photo of the cow eating the hay RIGHT OFF THE TRUCK, I cracked up laughing. That’s just awesome! :moo:

    Also, I applaud your negotiation skills with getting everyone to work together. Quite impressive! Maybe you could take some Grandmother Bread to the Middle East someday and see if you can help them to work that out. hehehe

  13. 12-12

    You sure know how to get work done. You are a great leader. :cowsleep: :moo: :hungry: :sheep: :sheepjump:

  14. 12-12

    Maybe some cheese with the bread next time. You sure don’t need advice from us. I love to sit and watch your success.

  15. 12-12

    Wow! Major adventure. AND, the folks that sold you the farm were sure extra special nice to leave so many useful tools behind for you when they could have sold them. I’m constantly pleasantly surprised that in a world that sometimes seem very cruel that truely nice, helpful and generous folks still quietly help others without expecting anything. Your Stringtown neighbors are certain great examples of folks stepping up to do that extra little bit for someone who needs help.

  16. 12-12

    Okay, best. post. ever. And only partly because hearing the politickin’ stories reminded me so much of my daddy’s large, extended family in NC — we never knew who was on speaking terms with whom with them, either. And it still goes on, even to this day. And even to this day, it’s never quite clear *why* one party is on the outs with the other. Even to the parties involved, I’m guessing.

    Be sure to let us know if you find those Vegas showgirls in your barn… :shimmy:

  17. 12-12

    This post warmed my heart. Old fashioned American ingenuity and neighbor helping neighbor…the way things used to be and now I have hope it could be again!

  18. 12-12

    I just moved from the country to suburbia and I was missing it (a little). Watching you move and set up successfully makes me know that I can handle the new challenges I am faced with. 8)

  19. 12-12

    I’ve been following your blog for quite sometime now. Your new adventure is just wonderful. I know your going to do just fine. God Bless you and all your helpers.

  20. 12-12

    Isn’t it wonderful to have such good neighbors! You can only do so much Suzanne and you’ve done a great job all said and done. Give yourself a pat on the back!

  21. 12-12

    Suzanne, I hope you consider fencing in the hay(even a “roughed in” fence of some kind), covering it and getting yourself a pitchfork (there may even be one in the barn but if not, they’re not that expensive) and practice “portion control” feeding of the animals, otherwise, I’m afraid all of it will be ruined within a short period of time and you’ll have to buy more. If given the freedom, animals can ruin a pile of hay in no time and it doesn’t seem to matter how large the pile is.

  22. 12-12

    I need to make me some Grandmother Bread!!! And you need a tractor!!! You are an amazing story teller and homesteader – love reading your blog so much.

  23. 12-12

    I enjoy your blog so much. I normally just lurk but I have to tell you that this post is a great reminder of what American values really are all about. Neighbor helping neighbor and sharing. I love your move to Sassafras Farm. i really worried about you from afar with all of the things you had to do at Stringtown and always admired the way you carried on under such difficult circumstances. I think the post of your moving the bale of hay over the fence etc that you posted several weeks ago was one of the saddest posts i have ever read and I am very glad that won’t have to happen again. I look forward to your new adventures and your writing is reflecting your uplifted spirits! You get a great big star!

  24. 12-12

    Congrats on being a logistics maven! Yay you!


  25. 12-12

    I was going to suggest having it stacked in a tight rectangle next to a fence and the just fence off the two sides where the cows can just eat ‘forward’. Some do that with a hot wire.

    I like how you are taking charge and learning everything. I think women on farms should do that with or without a partner. One never knows……
    Keep good records on who hay people, fencing people, trailer people, etc. are…then even your daughter could pitch in if needed.

    A small tractor would be nice but sometimes custom work is even better for a few years.

  26. 12-12

    Didn’t read all the comments so maybe someone has already suggested this, but in order to keep the cattle from trashing all the bales, you can put up a hot wire around all of them but one. You can put a hay hoop around just that one. When they clean up that bale, arrange your hot wire to “expose” the next bale. Put the hay hoop around that one, and so on. Doesn’t require any heavy equipment and will save you some hay.

  27. 12-12

    Whoops, I forgot to mention that you can get a hot wire that is solar powered. It has a hole in the bottom of it that fits perfectly over the top of a T-post. No worries, easy peasy.

  28. 12-12

    Suzanne, I just remembered your post about the tractor you bought a few years ago. Did you bring it with you to Sassafras Farm? Tractors, especially smaller ones like the one you bought, really aren’t difficult to learn to use and could be most helpful with your chores.

  29. 12-12

    Thanks for the good laugh! I love seeing the animals eating the hay off the truck!!

  30. 12-12

    Congratulations on the safe transfer of the round bales!\

    You know what would be a great Daily Farm photo? A hay hook! I have no idea what you are talking about.

  31. 12-12

    I happen to know exactly what a hay hook looks like! And a hay knife too, and a hay fork. You probably have all of them there in your barn tool cupboard. How lucky you are that the former owners left you all those goodies to discover.
    You’re doing a terrific job, Suzanne. We really enjoy reading about your daily activities.
    Looking forward to seeing the Christmas tree!

  32. 12-13

    I notice some have metion use hot wire around the hay. Suzanne I am sure you know this. For anyone that does not know NEVER let the hay to close to hot wire. It can catch on fire.

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