Gettin’ Hay


My superboys:

Sean and Sean. (Look, you don’t even have to remember two names!) Sean and Sean are old high school friends of Ross’s, and they are just like Ross. Hard working, inventive, competent, strong, and full of initiative. I always say if I had to take one thing to a deserted island, my “thing” would be Ross. Sean or Sean would do, too. Any one of them would go all MacGyver, pull out a toothpick and a couple wires from their pocket, build an airplane, and fly me out of there. They can rebuild an engine, or build a fence, and everything in between. And they do it all cheerfully.

Farming on my own, I’m going to need some hired help at times, and they are the bomb. They helped me move the animals and hay from Stringtown Rising and then helped move my furniture on moving day, and yesterday they helped me haul more hay and load it in the barn. Soon, they’re going to be helping me with some fencing additions I want to do.

Before we started hauling hay, I had them meet me at Stringtown Rising to pick up a couple gates and some woven wire fencing to take back to Sassafras Farm. I want to fence in the area between the barn and the goat yard so I can move animals back and forth to the barn from the goat yard and other connected fields beyond it without taking them outside of fencing.

Gettin’ hay is actually pretty fun. I love hay. I love how it smells. I love to look at big stacks of it. I love being in a barn full of hay. (Is that weird?)

We went back to the barn, our usual hay guy, for 100 bales with their pickup and my Explorer. Sean went up top to throw hay while Sean stayed in the truck to stack. (It’s so easy to talk about Sean and Sean. You can’t get it wrong!)

The hay guy was in his orange jacket, eager to get rid of us so he could go hunting.

The hay guy has a huge barn. He told me it can hold at least 1100 bales.

I was worried about how much hay we could safely get on there, but I let the hay guy run the show. He knows how to stack hay on a truck and he directed the superboys.

Hay guy (and his brother), supervising the tying-on.

Then it was time to load the Explorer. I had the seats folded down to make the most room possible.

We got 40 bales on the truck and 10 in the Explorer, so 50 bales per trip! (And we didn’t lose a single bale off the truck.) I was pleased. That meant just two trips to get 100. The hay guy was pleased, too, because he wanted us to skedaddle so he could go hunting.

The hay guy’s barn is just a few miles away from my new farm, but there’s all the unloading to do after each trip, so the event took all afternoon.

When I first visited this farm in October and toured the barn, one of the previous owners showed me this contraption in the barn. (The following three photos were taken in October, which is why there’s no hay in the barn, and that’s one of the previous owners pictured.)

It’s an electric-powered winch! Instead of carrying one bale at a time up the narrow loft stairs on your back, a winch allows you to place several bales on a platform and haul it straight up for unloading at loft-level. All the pieces of the winch were there, but it wasn’t put together. I asked the previous owner if the winch worked and he told me that he didn’t know. They’d never tried to use it.

The superboys had carried hay up to the hayloft the day we moved the animals and hay from Stringtown Rising, so they’d had that experience. They said, “We’re going to make this winch work!” And they pulled out a toothpick and a couple wires and set to work.

I scrambled for an extension cord with a three-prong adapter to reach the outlet on the lower level of the barn and next thing you know, I had a working winch.

And up the hay went!

Me, watching the superboys, wondering if the bent platform is going to break.

Jerry, who drove the Budget truck on moving day, stopped by with a friend while we were on the first unload and took this photo. Then he and the superboys used a sucker rod to shore up the platform. Before next hay time, I need to get the platform repaired more securely, but it did the job for now.

By the time we made the second trip and the last bale was unloaded, it was getting dark.

I sent the superboys home with two hot pizzas sliced and packed in a box with paper plates and napkins, with sodas to drink. (I would have been happy to have them eat here with us, but I knew they wanted to be on their way–and yet start eating at the same time. They earned their appetite yesterday.)

With what I had from before, and yesterday’s haul, I probably have something like 150 square bales in the barn.

I bet I could stash 250-300 bales up here in the hayloft. There are half a dozen large stalls on the lower level of the barn, and I could probably store a couple hundred more bales if I commandeered a couple stalls for hay. This is a GREAT barn. But, I also have a number of the big round bales back at the other farm, enough to feed the larger animals all winter, leaving me enough square bales now to get through for the goats. Next on my list is lining up a trailer to haul the round bales.

I’m hoping that next summer and fall, I will be making my own hay right here from my own pastures!


  1. lattelady says:

    What an accomplishment! I LOVE Sean! 😮
    And, your barn light works! You are doing wonders,
    Getting all snug as a bug in a rug, on YOUR new farm.

  2. Miss HomeEcs Daughter says:

    What fun, what work!!! I remember well filling the hay barn at our dairy. :moo: The boys would leave spaces for the cats to be able to move more freely (better to catch the mice) and for me to tunnel in and out of (and now that I think of this some 50 years later quite dangerous for me). :yes:

    Looks like you have a good supply and a much better system now. I love the new place and can’t wait to see more.

  3. Sheila Z says:

    Hay in the mow acts as an insulator, keeping the barn warmer in the winter. Rather than stack the hay high in the edges I’d suggest an even layer. Possibly the boys stacked it that way because you plan to load in more hay?

  4. holstein woman says:

    At first I thought the truck was loaded onesided, but very nice job. We put in 10,500 2 years ago then was sorry because we had to sell it out of the barn so we could move.
    I enjoy all your stories and pictures.

  5. Jan Hodges says:

    Farm boys are a well kept secret. I wish I’d known it in the 60s when I was at college in Nebraska. But I was a brainless Army brat.

  6. Flowerpower says:

    Dang…wish I lived closer. Always nice to have folks who can fix or do anything. I do have a neighbor that is like that and helps me a lot. Pizza and drinks…not bad pay! :happyflower:

  7. Brenda Radabaugh says:


    I am so happy for you. That’s the way a “real farm” is supposed to work. You guys are going to love it there. Due to the place being layed out better with the buildings and fences in the ‘right’ places, your life will be so much easier, and fun! I can’t wait to see Morgan’s first horse! I NEED TO SEE A HORSE THERE! LOL

    I have known lots of people that had free gas and they even had a heater in the barn for when babies were born and of course a water source. I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED WATER IN MY BARNS ON ALL THE FARMS I HAVE LIVED ON IN MY LIFE!!! I’m so jealous! lol But most of all I am so happy for you and your family. SO happy that you are your own boss and have the run of all the whole place. I know what that independence is, I have always had that. It changes your whole life. The winters will be for writing and planning what to do in the spring and maybe working on that memoir! I had a huge garden this summer and worked so hard at it I had to take two months off just to knit and relax. I hadn’t relaxed in 2 years. I bought my farm last summer and all I have done is work. So, after Christmas is over, I will be finishing my 5th book. I love to be snowed in and writing. I know you will too. YOu will have so much extra time since the school buss stops right in front of the house! That’s so fabulous for you and Morgan!

    What have you decided to do with the studio apartment? That would be so wonderful for a guest house.

    Many blessings to you and Morgan. Have a beautiful and sucessful winter. Like most of your blog friends, I’M JEALOUS! LOL

  8. STracer says:

    Wow! Living in an area that the neighbors can stop by to lend a hand is great isn’t it? Those guys looked like they enjoy a day of good work. We are close, but not near enough for me to “volunteer” my hubby to help move those round bales for you. I am sure you will get some more help if you can keep supplying the homemade pizza.

  9. maryellen51 says:

    I have been so proud of you with your new beginning. (Sorry about your ending). Your farm and new house are beautiful. All the fenced in areas and your barn. sigh. I think you are going to be very happy there. Just keep on keeping on and don’t forget, “never underestimate the power of a determined woman”.

  10. gonecrazy says:

    You are really making progress Susanne. If you ever can get your hands on a cheap or free hay elevator that will really speed up the process. Good Luck, I love reading about Sassafras Farm.

  11. Leah says:

    I’m sure it feels good to have your pretty
    Red barn stocked with hay for your “babies “! I love Sassafras Farm and I’m happy for you Suzanne.

  12. Estella says:

    Isn’t is awesome to have sons who have strong friends?

  13. wildcat says:

    Boy, that winch sure makes loading the barn with hay a lot easier! Why do it the hard way, if you don’t have to?

    Here’s to strong farm boys with a MacGuyver inclination! :woof:

  14. kdubbs says:

    I agree with gonecrazy–a hay elevator is the way to go (although your free winch is pretty nifty)! I picked one up cheaply a few years ago because I knew how impossible getting bales into a loft was like without one. It’s a lifesaver, and when it’s not in use, we slide it into the loft between the rows of bales.
    Isn’t it nice to have a FARM with hay storage, and buildings, and everything?? Congrats!

  15. yvonnem says:

    I’m so excited and happy for you and look forward to more posts about this wonderful new life and farm! I know you’ve been working hard, but hopefully not as hard as you did at Stringtown Rising. It has to be so much easier for you in so many ways.

    Do you plan to cut a Christmas tree on your new farm?

    Take Care! :sheep:

  16. Cheryl LeMay says:

    Nifty idea! My barn has an old hand pulley system but I didn’t know what you’d use to pull the hay up. Now I know. I wonder where you could get a platform like that? Anyway, does your barn have hatches in the floor for you to drop bales down to the level below? That’s a time saver if it does.

  17. doubletroublegen says:

    I totally agree with Jan Hodges, if only I had known years ago that farm boys are the way to go in chosing a mate!! Oh how those boys know how to work and can fix everything! They are definately worth their weight in GOLD!! Isn’t it wonderful your son’s freinds are their to help you, true friends indeed. Sending Sean and Sean hugs and kisses for helping you! :heart:

  18. ticka1 says:

    Love your hayhauling stories! Glad you got good help and are getting well stocked for the winter for all the animals!

  19. lizzie says:

    Love Love Love the New Farm Suzanne!!! Casper looks like he is right at home! and great pictures of the Barn. All the animals look so cozy! I am sure they are loving their new home. :snoopy:

  20. GrammieEarth says:

    I love that you have YOUR Sassafras Farm and am looking forward to more and more posts in your ‘new’ life as a farmer! You could/should have your own chapter in “Women Who Run With Wolves”

    MacGuyver and Seans ROCK!! It looks like your platform is a spring base from a single bed. If you need a second platform, I have one in the ‘back forty’…you just have to cut the trees & roots away!!

    =) Pam

  21. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Farm-guys rock.

  22. judyh says:

    This reminds me of “this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl”. 😀

  23. JOJO says:

    Hi Suzanne, you are really getting the animals ready for winter, dont forget foil for yourself.
    I always amazed when I see your pictures of the roads in West Virginia, unless you have driven or traveled on the, it is difficult to imagine what they are like. The first time my Sweet Hubby took me “back home” I thought I would wet my pants before we reached his Mother’s home! OMG!! Nothing like it anywhere I have ever been, and to travel them with a load of hay like you had, or with snow or ice, I dont think I could handle it. You are a brave Lady, even though it is much better at the new farm, traveling those mountain roads is still trecherous.
    Be careful!!

  24. JerseyMom says:

    Yay for having help!! And also for having a hoist! I have a loft but it’s set up for a woodshop so no hay gets stored there. Last weekend I put an additional 50 bails of have in the bottom of the barn….and I’m amazed at your hay stacker! We made two trips with half the hay stacked in the truck each time. Fortunately it’s just a couple of miles from the guy with the hay to our farm. And we are so very small…2 acres…2 horses ( and 2 dogs, 1 cat, 5 chickens, 2 cockatiels, 1 parakeet, some fish…)

    I noticed yesterday that my arms are still full of little bumps as I heal from what the pokey had did….it was warm weather here in South Jersey. Seems I have a hay shard in at least one finger every other day or so. I see that you had on long sleeves. Good job!

  25. sarainva says:

    A hay elevator would really help given the upper barn. There are ones for sale out there (like When you are ready for a horse, remember there are rescues that need homes at places like Days End So glad to see you are enjoying your new home!!!

  26. Glenda says:

    Glad to see the farm post. I have been wondering about how the daily chores are going as compared to before, was BP pregnant, are you still milking,are you getting eggs. etc. I miss the daily farm stuff.

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