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Friday, June 22, 2012

More than you ever wanted to know about hay.

We have finally have our first cutting of hay up.  The weather has been bad for hay growers.  It's been so cold that the alfalfa was short in places because it needs warm weather to grow well.  When it was our regular time to cut, not only was the hay a bit short but it was raining as well.  I saw hay all over the Columbia Basin in the windrow in the pouring rain - a chilling sight indeed.  We waited and waited for a break in the weather.  The good thing was in the meanwhile the hay grew taller.  

There are a couple of big drawbacks to waiting so long to cut; the first one is the alfalfa could start to bloom, and that toughens it and lowers the protein.  Thankfully, it was so cool that the alfalfa put its energy into growing and not going to seed.  The other big drawback is that we get three cuttings here (they get four in the Basin) and delaying the first cutting shortens the time for the other two cutting to grow.

We bought a 'big' baler.  It makes bales that are 3' high, 4' wide and 8' long.  The bales weigh over 1300 pounds!  From what I understand, it's the most desirable size for the export market and the big buyers.  We still have the 'little' baler for the horse market.

Here's the baler getting delivered.  Notice the clouds!

Brad pulls it off the trailer.

Soon as we could, the alfalfa was cut and raked.  (We rake two windrows together).  The problem was Brad and William couldn't try out the baler until the hay was ready to bale....and there were problems with it.  Oh dear...they had a three days to get as much as possible baled before it rained again and the baler was not working right.  They got some baled and then it rained but thankfully the heavy rain went over us and landed in Spokane.  The rain we got was not enough to damage the hay, but it was stressful waiting it out.

Brad can fix anything but being unfamiliar with this type of baler, it took him a while.  The dealer who sold us it said he'd get a service man out from Moses Lake to look at it and if it was their fault they'd pay to get it going, but if it was operator error than we'd be hit with it.  Good old Brad really shines at this kind of thing and rode around atop of the thing for hours as William baled.  He found the problem and fixed it himself.  The problem was with the knotters.  The bales have six strings on them instead of the two on the small there are six knotters to deal with.  Brad found the problem and it was with the had a thing that was broke, missing or something.  Easy to fix and soon they were off and running.

Here is one of the big bales.  It was as solid as a rock and just as unmovable.

Brad sticks the moisture tester into the bale and takes a reading.  The moisture has to be just right.  Too moist and the hay goes moldy.

William is the hay baler these days.

It was the Summer Solstice when things really started to go well and the hay was finally baled.

He baled well into the night until it was finished.  Phew.. two more cuttings to go.

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