The hardest day of the year....
As I have mentioned before I was very lucky to grow up in an agricultural lifestyle, both my parents and grandparents had working farms, for hobby and for a career. Like any person with large animals will tell you, summer hay work is some of the hardest, hottest, prickliest, most important work you will do each year. Thankfully, when we moved to our farm we found a very reliable hay farmer that is only about 20 minutes from us. Sperdute farms has been a god send with the hay that they make for us each year. Not only does this sustain our animals with quality forage throughout the winter, but it also gives me peace of mind when I walk out into the barn that I will not be searching for hay in the dead of winter when prices are sky high.
This year we put up 240 bales which is our absolute maximum capacity in half of my 24 by 30 garage, that we turned into a barn. This should be more than enough to last both of the horses and all six goats until this time next year. We began our adventure Sunday morning. We had planned to go get the hay first thing Sunday, because Saturday we spent the day at my parents for their annual Labor day picnic. When we woke up Sunday morning the sky was dark and looked like rain, when looking at the forecast we decided with the 60% chance of rain that day we were not going to chance ruining our hay for the year. Thankfully, Rob and I both had Monday off for Labor day, so we pushed the hay task back until then, but when we woke up Monday morning the sky looked just as dark and it was a 50% chance of rain. We didn't have another option, so we pushed forward and went to get our hay!
Thankfully, Steve, our hay farmer loads the hay up on his flat bed trailer and all we do is come hook up to it and take it home! On this particular trip we were in for a little more adventure.... Steve called me not five minutes down the road that he noticed the hay bouncing when we pulled away, and to pull over and check the straps. Low and behold the strap on my side had come loose, so we tightened it and went on our way. We got about fifteen minutes down the road and Rob noticed my side was leaning, so we stopped immediately and thank God we did! As soon as I stepped out of the truck I saw half of the load on my side leaning and about to topple off of the trailer! Luckily, Rob and I were able to push it back into place and use the heavy duty straps we keep in the truck at all times to ratchet the hay back into place! Thankfully, we were stopped on a back road without much traffic, because we were taking up almost an entire lane and Rob had to climb onto the hay stack to ensure the straps were tight enough.
We averted that crisis and got back on the road, but it is slow going, that steel trailer with all of the hay is maximum capacity for our Ram 2500 Hemi, so I always pray about getting home safely. Thankfully, our wonderful neighbor lets us use his driveway to come through our field and into our property, because our driveway is very steep and I am not 100% sure we would have been able to make it up with our load! Once we made it home Rob had the additional challenge of turning the trailer around and backing it up to our barn. This load was so heavy that our truck could not back the trailer up the hill to our barn. So instead of burning our transmission out we decided to leave the trailer about 30 feet from our barn and just manually carry the bales to the barn.
This made the task even more difficult than it usually is, thankfully, we had the idea to use our tractor as a hay elevator of sorts, we would bring it down and load the bucket with 10-11 bales and take it into the barn. This kept us from having to carry each individual bale and helped us from having to throw the bales above our heads. The goats did add a layer of comic relief to the whole day by immediately jumping into the fresh hay on the trailer and going to town eating it! After about 4 hours we were completely unloaded and cleaned up, so we took the trailer back to Steve. The barn is now full and smells amazing and all of the animals have plenty of forage for the winter months ahead. Farming is hard, but it is worth every ounce of sweat, blood and tear because it gives me purpose and joy. Have a safe and happy hay harvest everyone!