The County Line

The County Line

Friday, September 1, 2017

It's Hip To Be Square

It's hip to be square.

At least, that's what Huey Lewis and the News said via that tap-your-foot song.

Don't tell me that I'm crazy.
Don't tell me I'm nowhere.
Take it from me
It's hip to be square.


I guess it's hip to be square for hay bales, too. "It's hip to be rectangle" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, though it's probably more accurate if you ask your average kindergartener about the stacks of hay at Central Livestock.
I went with Randy to buy some small bales at their hay auction a couple of weeks ago. Most Tuesdays this summer, the hay auction takes place outside the South Hutchinson sale barn before the sale ring opens for cattle later in the morning.  (FYI: There's no hay auction September 5 because of Labor Day.)

I've been to farm auctions.
I've been to cattle auctions.
But I'd never been to a hay auction.
Who knew there'd be such a crowd? There were guys there buying alfalfa for horses. There was a lady who needed a hay buffet for her llamas. There were preschoolers there with their Daddies and plaid-shirted farmers. There were cowboy hats and seed company caps.

The variety didn't end with the people. There was brome hay. There was alfalfa. There was a pile of teft hay. There were small bales, big square bales and a couple of big round bales.

So why would we need to buy hay when we raise hay? In fact, we grow alfalfa and sudan, both of which we bind up in big round bales and feed to our cattle.

 
We got there early to look over the selection brought to the auction by those who had bales to sell. Randy was bidding on small square bales of hay to use as "bait hay." 
 
Those come in handy for my role in calling cattle into the corrals to bring them home from summer pastures or to entice them to change locations during the winter. It's a little tough to toss those 1,500-pound big round bales, don't you think? A 60-pound bale works better.
This is the trailer of hay Randy ended up buying.

Growing alfalfa has always been part of the crop rotation for Randy's family. Back when Randy was a child, they used a sickle mower which laid the hay flat. Then, they would rake the hay. Since they didn't own a baler, a neighbor would bale it into square bales. Then, Randy, his brother and dad would pick up the hay from the field.
So, after the auction was over, it was just like old times for Randy to have to move the bales. Look at those muscles!
This time, he transferred them into a cattle trailer for the trip home, rather than collecting them on a hay wagon.
I was no help at all. I stood around and took photos. (I did offer to help.)
After Randy's junior year at K-State, he purchased his first swather. Then, during his senior year, he and his dad purchased their first round baler. They haven't produced small bales since that time, so periodically, Randy purchases some through an auction or from another producer who has extra.
He was looking for alfalfa bales which were heavy and had lots of leaves. He also wanted bales that had been packed tightly. After he bought the trailer of hay, the auction clerk marked the stacks with 788, Randy's auction number.
 
Then it was time to settle up at the office. We paid $6.50 per bale for 30 bales of hay. 
I noticed that hay wasn't on this vintage 1945 that still hangs at the sale barn. Maybe it fell in the ubiquitous "Miscellaneous articles."
And bonus: We ate breakfast at the Stockyard Cafe. I loved their sign. The day we were there, hours were "6 AM - till the cows go home." And on Sunday, there's no breakfast at the sale barn, since they "took the cows to church."

We'll hope those small bales of hay will help us take our cows home, too. 

6 comments:

  1. Was that $6.50 per bale of hay? Incredibly cheap otherwise.
    I love how you blend in your farms history as you write.

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    1. Yes, it was $6.50 per bale. Randy says he has paid more other times he's gone to the auction, so he was happy with that.

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    2. It sounds about the price I see advertised here, but I think Randy's bales are larger.

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  2. I was wondering the same thing...if it was $6.50 per bale...but I see your answer above! We prefer to feed small squares in our barn. It's much easier with our set up than the big round bales of balage that we mostly feed. There's nothing like good quality dry hay!

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    Replies
    1. I was surprised by the differences in how tightly the hay was baled. Some was so loose that I'm not sure we would have successfully gotten it home!

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  3. I love the blog post, and you helped me make such a fun card with it!
    โคนัน

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