Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hay, Hay, Hay, Goodbye!

Na, na, na, na. 
Na, na, na, na.
Hay, hay, hay!

Some of our hay is going goodbye (and not just into our cattle's stomachs).

For the first time in the past three years, we have some extra alfalfa hay to sell. After two years of extreme drought, we got enough rain this past summer to raise sufficient hay for our own cattle and then have some left to sell to others.

This year, Randy chose to market the hay through Sunflower Trading, a division of the Kanza Co-op. Randy established the price he wanted for the hay, then he contracted 10 loads of hay with Sunflower. They sold it to a feedlot near Cadillac, Texas. Sunflower arranges to have a truck come to the field to pick it up, and either Jake or Randy load the truck.

After the alfalfa is baled in the summer, the guys stack it in rows near the road. This year, we got three cuttings of hay. The first two were better quality hay than the last cutting. The feedlot was willing to take a mixture of the hay.

Jake picked up two bales at a time and brought them closer to the truck. He then loaded each one on the truck individually. The bales are placed two across on the flat-bed. For the first couple, the truck driver signals him to let him know where to place it. Then, it's kind of like building with Legos. You just keep adding "pieces" to the "design." Unfortunately, there are no handy connective pieces to keep everything stuck together like Legos.
Kinley needed to be here so we could practice counting!
As Jake got to the back of the truck, he pushed the last ones in the row on to "scrunch" them together and keep them on the truck.
After the bottom rows were in place, he added another layer, positioning the upper deck in the "groove" between two bales.
As the bales are added, the truck driver tossed straps over the bales to keep them in place. With a strong south wind the day these bales were loaded, he had some help in sailing the strap over to the other side. (You can see that if you look carefully at the photo below.)
I left before the truck was totally loaded, but you can see that the driver added a sign, "Oversize Load" to the back of the truck (and also to the front).

The driver had weighed the truck at the co-op before he came to the field. After it was loaded, he went back to the co-op and they weighed the truck full before he took off for Texas. Each truck carries around 30 large round bales, weighing about 25 tons (or 50,000 pounds).

He had planned to come back on Monday, but he couldn't get his truck started in the subzero temperatures.

The load I photographed was Load 6 of the 10 we have contracted.  A couple of neighbors also buy a few bales from us to feed their cattle. 

Randy says it's nice to have enough hay that we're able to sell some extra this year. That "hay, hay, hay, goodbye" is kind of a happy anthem for my Kansas farmer - even if it does get stuck in my head!


  1. Yea!! How nice to have extra to sell! We buy all our alfalfa locally. We feed the 4x4x8 bales. The cows are gobbling it up right now! :)
    I see on your other post - breaking ice. UGH! We just have to break ice in the creek. The tanks are constantly flowing, so they never freeze. But OMG! That is a pain in the butt to do by hand. Hubby parked the backhoe by the water spot in the creek. Lazy man way to break ice! :)

  2. Here's to good moisture this spring and summer so we have lots of hay!

    We are a little short of hay due to the hail storm in late May. We are feeding lots of cake and trying to conserve some hay. Kind of hard when it is so cold. J did get some hay bought, just to make sure we will make it through the winter.

    1. You probably remember, but the past two years, we have sold feeder calves in the fall because we didn't have enough hay to feed both them and the mama cows. It's nice to have some extra this year. And I'm with you: Let's pray for plenty of moisture in the year to come. No more drought!