Monday, July 28, 2008

Hay, Good Looking!

Or, if you'd rather, "Good looking hay!"

Today is a Significant Day that is hard to really define. It just IS. I know because I'm here at the end of it, and as God said in the Beginning, "It was good."

There is hay in the new barn.

Not just any hay, but 90 nice, tight, heavy bales of excellent quality, virtually weed-free brome hay, acquired for a very VERY reasonable price because I took the whole* (well, almost....) trailer load straight out of the field** (well, almost....). Enough to last MORE than a year, as part of our current management program. We use small squares of brome as bedding and feed for ewes at lambing, and for other situations where sheep are held in individual pens. At a rate of 1 bale per ewe per year, this may be even 3 or 4 years' worth. It's like money in the bank.

Not just in the barn, but on pallets in the east wing of the barn, newly cleaned out. The ground under the pallets is leveled, and there is plastic on the ground under the pallets to keep damp from coming up and spoiling the hay over time.

Starting a little after 8 this morning, we tackled the south portions of the east wing, virtually untouched since I bought the place in Dec. It was full of a jumble of old lumber scraps, antique car parts, fishing rods, bicycle parts, storm windows, moldy upholstered furniture, old heaters, power line insulators, you name it. Some really neat stuff, probably pretty collectible and worth some money. Also some frightening stuff: A large can with white crystalline matter oozed out of it (now solidified) on which the only remaining readable print says "Danger! Poison! For professional use only!" (Figures. I made my run to the Household Hazardous Waste disposal site last week. Now I get to go again already.) Everything veiled in cobwebs, dead leaves, and dust.

The rest of the barn is now a maze of piles of stuff for further sorting, disposal, organization and storage. But for a short time, the south two-thirds of the east wing was vacant, with a smooth floor and clean walls and ceiling, neatly swept of all cobwebs. "Wow!" I excalimed as we surveyed the result of our hard labor. "It really does look like some place a horse could live someday!"

Then we began to unload the 90 bales.

We rolled them off the trailer, then rolled or end-over-ended them to the east wing. That way we never had to lift the full weight of a bale. I CAN lift these bales (I'm guessing about 70 lbs. each) but they are awkward, and lifting one bale is a far cry from lifting 90 bales. Rolling them isn't as picturesque as picking them up and throwing them--the conventional time-honored farmhand technique--but for my physique it's a lot more sustainable.

I can't say exactly why, since we threw a pickup load of hay in the main bay of the barn last winter, but today's work seems to mark the official transition of the barn from warehouse (as it was used prior to my purchase) to eventual horse barn, even though there is a lot more cleaning and other renovations to do before I can even consider horses. But someday I hope it will house a team of Haflingers (draft ponies large enough to ride) and all their gear and feed.

We'll keep working on the barn, so that when we buy a trailer load of alfalfa in the fall, the barn will be ready and waiting for it. Trying to clean the barn and unload and stack the hay all in one day was a bit strenuous.

*I thought 120 bales was a) not something I could afford at the moment and b) biting off a little more than I wanted to even think about chewing, if my volunteers didn't show up as planned. So the hay guy offered to take the top layer off, leaving 90 bales on the trailer.

**Actually, I saw the hay when I went to his farm to pick up a few bales of alfalfa. He's having a new barn built, and the builders didn't have the roof on yet, and had left for a long weekend or maybe summer vacation for all he knew. Meanwhile he had just put up a bunch of hay on shares (for a good friend of mine, as luck would have it--so one reason I wanted this particular hay is that I knew it hadn't been sprayed with anything), and he had his share--a bumper crop--sitting out in the open on trailers all around the barnyard. Rain was in the forecast, of course. So he was willing to give me a great price if he didn't have to worry about it or unload it long as he could get his trailer back by Sunday evening.

No comments: