The Way to the Manger


This is not the hay loft.

Though it looks like one at the moment! It’s the downstairs storage side of the barn (separate from the alleyway/stalls side of the lower level of the barn). I had to rearrange and organize to make room to store some of my hay down here once the loft filled. See the path between the bales?

I’ll show you where that goes!

To a new hay manger! (And yes, I take the strings off my hay. That is a “demonstration” bale.)

How this idea came about: When the hay elevator was tucked under the barn, it stuck all the way under, clear to the outdoor access stall. To protect the hay elevator (and the animals), it had to be covered somehow, and Adam suggested he build a hay manger for the cows as a cover for the hay elevator. I loved this idea, so like five minutes later, he had it all constructed. (I’m only exaggerating slightly. Whenever he goes to build something, I come out and say something like, “So when you get that done–” And he says, “Turn around.” And I turn around and THERE IT IS. And I swear I was just gone five minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it.)

There’s plenty of room for my two cows to walk into the stall and eat, and still plenty of room for them both to stretch out, turn around, snooze, watch TV, crochet calf booties, or whatever else they do when I’m not looking. (The perspective on the photo is a little skewed from the angle. Zip, who is much larger than a cow, can get in this space and turn completely around, so it’s bigger than it appears.) I will have virtually zero hay loss with the covered feeder inside a stall (just what falls out of their mouths onto the ground). Their hay will never be wet, and when it’s cold and snowing, they don’t have to go outside to eat. I can stock them up in the feeder with two or three bales at a time. The only downside I saw was that they would stand there pooping all the time because their feeder is in their stall, but they stand in there and poop a lot in the winter anyway and I will have to have the stall cleaned out periodically anyway. The hay manger is a major savings when it comes to hay loss and was a perfect solution for the hay elevator storage. I’ll serve their hay first out of the hay that is stored right there, then later I’ll have to bring hay down from the loft. When it can be done, Adam will be cutting out a “drop” hole in the loft so I can bring hay down without using the stairs! (Unfortunately, the hay manger idea was concocted after filling the loft with 500 bales of hay, so it can’t be done right now. I’ll use out hay from the loft in the direction of the proposed “drop” hole, though, and maybe by mid-winter it can be made.)

I’m so lucky to have smart, smart farm people to help me, and I’m so, so ready for winter!


  1. easygoinglady says:

    That Adam is worth his weight in gold. He’s just what you need around there to help get things done, many great ideas and get them done quickly.

  2. Cherylls says:

    This reminds me of my childhood. I used to take naps in the hayloft of my best friends barn. We would be gone for hours and we had such fun hiding from our younger sisters. It is amazing how warm it was in winter; no matter how hot it was in summer, we managed to sneak up there and hide out.

  3. SwissMiss says:

    What a great solution. You might not want to load them up with extra bales unless you need to because you are gone. They will waste more hay if they have a choice of bales. Dairy cows especially are a bit pickier about their hay quality and will root around for the best stuff first, pushing aside the less choice pieces. Although as long as they don’t step on it (with some this is not a deterrent to eating it), poop on it or pee on it they will eat it later if that is only hay that is available. And if one of them is a flake shaker you could have all 3 bales shook out in the stall for their entertainment.

    On another note I love that hay field picture you put up. Brings back lots of memories, I can smell the sun warmed hay and feel the sore muscles, the itch of hay dust, dirt and hoppers and the satisfaction of putting the crop in the barn.


  4. MMHoney says:

    I played in the hay loft and enjoyed the good meals that awaited at Grandma’s table. Does anyone remember the big silo’s… We had one and perhaps the foundation may still exist. I don’t know how it was filled or how the feed was removed…Any comments???

  5. Dawn says:

    ok, how do u get 2 b a cow on your farm? I know the girls r gonna ask when your 2 go 4 tea – it is starting to amount to a spa farm – indoor eats no less – r u gonna put up a menu board 4 them? seriously – any money saving ideas r always good and it seems like yuor winter is going to b sooooo much easier – I miss having guys around who can build – tho handy wise I have my son who fixed my favorite jewelry display stand last nigt with a strategicalkly placed piece of wire – rt shoulder still wrecked from fall – but healing – take care – db

  6. Katharina says:

    Ahhh, farm-smart people who share ideas and even make them happen…best people ever! And thanks for sharing all YOUR wonderful recipes and plans and ideas too, Suzanne.

  7. bonita says:

    umm, is this hay manger any where near the milking parlor? I think my cow ignorance is showing—do your cows stay inside most of the winter? (I don’t recall that was true for BP, but then my memory’s getting shaky.)

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      bonita, the hay manger is in the outside access stall, which they can walk into from the barnyard without going into the barn (through the alleyway). The milking parlor is accessed by the alleyway from the front and rear barnyard. Glory Bee will only come in there at milking time. Cows DO tend to stand outside a lot, even if it’s snowing! But I found last winter that they liked standing around in the stall, too.

  8. Stick Horse Cowgirls says:

    I’m so envious, Suzanne! i LOVE your old barn and your farm! Your photos are so great! Your blog just keeps getting better! I’m ordering some soap!
    Cowgirl V

  9. liz2 says:

    Adam, the man of many ideas & talents. You are so fortunate to have his help. He should be a celebrity guest at the Retreat.

  10. StuckinMiami says:

    Suzanne, I haven’t notice any mention of straw. Do you have any around? Just curious, we usually kept a few bales around, not much, but some.

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