One of the (many) things we're learning how to do this year is to make our own hay -- and at the same time, learn how to use draft horses to make the hay. For over a decade now, we've purchased hay, and it has always been our single largest feed cost. Like a lot of agricultural commodities, hay has continued to go up in price, year after year. So an important step for us in our drive to be more self-sufficient is to put up our own hay crop.
There's a lot to learn about the haymaking process, and of course you have to do it in the very small windows of time that Mother Nature gives you with the weather. Kate and I, with the help of our wonderful neighbor Jim D., took some of the equipment out for the first practice run today.
That's Kate in the photo above, using the horse-drawn sickle bar mower. The blade is low in the grass and you can't see it in this shot, but it extends out to her right side about 7 feet. I had already made the first pass, and she's now driving the horses down the mowed section and cutting the swath on the right.
Here's a photo Kate took of me just after I got underway earlier:
Next we tried out the tedder, which picks up the mowed grass, stirs it around, and drops it back on the ground, fluffing it in the process. All this helps it to dry. Here's Kate on the tedder:
Another view of her coming back down with Bob on the left (in the foreground) and Bill on the right:
And finally, here's a photo of me tedding:
If you click on that photo for a larger image, you should be able to see the grass being swirled around.
We still need to try out the side delivery rake, which picks up the grass and fluffs it again and forms it into windrows.
Our plan is to put up loose hay, the old-fashioned way, rather than baling it. This summer we will see how we do!
Please Vote for the Farm!
The new Shelter Challenge started Monday, April 9 and ends at midnight on June 17. Grand prize in this round is $5,000, plus $1,000 for weekly winners and $1,000 for state winners. There are also other categories ... please see the Shelter Challenge website for details.
*** We are now LISTED UNDER OUR NEW NAME, ROLLING DOG FARM. State is still NH for New Hampshire. ***
Please remember, you can vote every day ... consider bookmarking the voting page to make it easy.
We just won $1,000 as a weekly winner for Week 4 of the last contest, and thousands more in the previous contests. The Shelter Challenge really does bring in a lot of money for the animals here!
You can vote in the Shelter Challenge here.
Thank you for your votes!