Photo: Reed Canary Grass in Winter
Every Fall, we purchase enough hay, bagged shavings, and straw for our livestock needs which lasts until about May of the following year. May is usually when the first and sometimes second cuttings of hay, (depending on the weather) can be found here.
Hay is something I am extremely picky about, as is my husband, but I am more so. We do not purchase hay from 'just someone' selling it. (we have learned hard lessons over the many years, wasted alot of money). Many people who cut and bale a field here, do not care what they bale, as long as they can get someone to buy it for price.
As someone who is dependant on hay for supplemental feeding during the fall and winter months, there is nothing more frustrating to open a bale, and find mold in the center of the bale, or to find the hay full of foxtails or thistles... especially when the ground is covered in snow... a time when a person is really dependant. (At one time, I had to open four bales to find a good bale of hay to feed.)
We have learned over the years that feeding hay that has been cut, cured, and baled correctly has lessoned illness in livestock, less worries for us, and less waste of money. So, we stick with purchasing hay from a reputable hay farmer, even if it means paying a bit more in cost.
This past year, rumor was going around it would be a hard winter. Many livestock owners seemed frantic. When the price of fuel shot up, so did the price of hay. We began to see farmers who normally cut and bale their own fields, were also cutting fields that had not been cut and baled in years. I'm sure the hay from the fields that had not been touched in years, were not high in nutrient value, but would work fine for a supplimental filler feed, to help stretch the hay, especially when the ground was covered in snow.
If you have been reading here a while, you will remember how I have shared about the early snow that we received. The snow is just now melting enough, that the grass in the fields are peeking through. This is allowing and encouraging the livestock to begin to graze in the fields, freeing up some of their dependence on the hay. With the unexpected snow early in the winter season and covering the ground longer than normal, we have had to feed more hay than we normally would. This has cut into our hay supply considerably, and we will be in search of some hay soon.
And so, I will continue to work to find that balance within our storage of foods, as well as household items and farm supplies.
Blessings on your day!