Hay without equipment

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by GeorgeK, May 8, 2004.

  1. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    I have plenty of pasture, but no equipment. (other than a DR walk behind brushmower) I've had 7 people claim they were going to cut hay on the halves, and not a one ever showed up. I use about 300 dollars worth of orchard hay per year at 2 dollars per square bail delivered. Not enough cost to warrant the expense of a tractor, baler, sickle bar etc. I have an F150 4x4 and was wondering if there is an inexpensive way to do it with that. I've always only used hand tools, and know nothing of engines. Any ideas?
     
  2. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    well george k old pal i'll tell you what you need. find a horse drawn cutter and that will fit the bumper hole on your truck ,now some one needs to ride on the seat so take it easy, also a old horse rake with the dump lever in place and that can be pulled by the mighty tonka you use.there are balers out there that are stationary ,i.e. real old that take a small gas engine, or you could luckout and find a baler and put a motor on it with a f/r trans mission. that way you could get your hay done for a low price , you need to pm me about this
     

  3. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    I wish someone would invent something that could be used with a 4 wheeler to do small areas of hay. The mini balers that are out cost a fortune. I for one am interested in the replies to this one. I keep wondering if there is a way to make a sickle bar to add to the 4 wheeler, but then what about baling?

    Carol
     
  4. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Ahhh.....fellow masochists. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my hay. We have about 20 acres of hay pasture. The fellow who was doing it as custom work has decided he's getting on in years and not going to do it anymore.

    I'm looking for a sicklebar mower for my 8n (not interested in a pittman type, has to be belt driven with a breakaway). That still leaves the issue of baling. If it was for my own use I'd probably put it in the bank barn loose and just use a pitchfork to throw down what was needed for the animals.

    I'm thinking making hay is about the most thankless farm task I've come across.

    Sorry for the rant.

    Mike
     
  5. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We bought a 90 acre farm last year, and it sure does seem like foolishness buying hay. :rolleyes: So we've talked about getting equipment once we can (hopefully) afford it, but we don't really use all that much hay, since it is green most of the year here. Hard to imagine, honestly, me and dh dragging those bales to the barn once it was done.
    Nice local man will bring it out and stack it in my barn for 3.50 a bale, and I won't use more than a hundred bales in a year. That sure won't pay for equipment, and I can lease my pasture for cattle for more than that.
    Still, there is that appeal to the idea of putting up your own from your own property.
    mary
     
  6. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    If you are into medival style labor, you can put up your own hay. Cut by hand, rake by hand, make haystacks instead of bales.

    Seriously...I do have a neighbor who rakes his hay with his truck. My rake, and most others I've seen, are ground driven. Of course, he has someone cut it and bale it for him though.

    I HATE doing things that make me think..."We have walked on the moon...so why the heck am I feeding hay with a pitchfork?!?!?!" The last time I did that, I was trying to dig out enough from a round bale to feed a cow in the barn for some reason. I went out and bought some square bales the next day.

    Maybe there's something else you all can do with your hayfields. Graze something? Grow a crop? Lease it out as crop ground? Lease it out as pasture?
    Put it in CRP? Wildlife habitat?

    At least that way you might make enough to pay for your yearly hay.

    If I were close to you, I'd hay your fields in a heartbeat. I'm not really happy going into winter without about 300 round bales, though typically we don't need quite that many.

    Jena
     
  7. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Keeping a square baler tieing the bales and running properly takes more experience and mechanical ability than most full time farmers posess. They can be a nightmare to run... Round balers are easier to opperate, and do more hay faster with less man power. Most people are at a loss trying to move round bales..
    If you can buy hay and live where the field isn't covered with deep snow most of the winter you would be ahead to pasture the stock all winter, and give them some boughten hay if it's impossible for them to dig any grass out of the snow. To graze all winter, you need some tall grass when it starts freezing to have anything the rest of the winter.
    Unless you are using over 500 bales a season, doing your own would cost much more than it's worth even if you own the equipment..
    Even when you have everything you need to make hay, you have no control over the weather, and loosing a cutting of hay due to too much rain after it's mowed is quite common.
     
  8. Darren in TN

    Darren in TN Guest

    here's the answer straight from the horse's mouth (sorry.. i really can't help the bad jokes.)

    http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/hooker82.html

    this fellow apparently mows his pasture with a gravely mower, then he bales it by hand with the nifty bale-making frame shown in the article. if anyone tries this, post some pictures and results!

    best of luck,
    Darren
     
  9. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We're interested in this too. We use very little hay. Why does it need to be baled? Didn't they used to just mound it up into huge hills and fork it to the animals?
     
  10. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Yes, it is possible to put up your own hay without a lot of equipment. Break it down into activities, cutting, curing, windrowing, gathering and storing.

    While small plots could be but by hand, basically all you need is a bushhog. Just have it run low and slow. It will cut the hay up finer than a haybine, but the blades will do basically the same job of cracking the stems for drying.

    For windrowing, as mentioned above there are ground-driven rakes. Basically two types. On one you have to raise the drawbar to travel or make corners. Second you have to raise or blower the reel. Mine is the latter, but I still use a crossbar on the three-point hitch to use it. (There are probably PTO driven ones as well, but I am not familiar with them.)

    For curing you can let it lay as cut (the bushhog will scatter it some), then windrow it twice, with drying time inbetween. If you cut after the forages have dried one morning, you should be able to rake up windows in the early afternoon the next day and the second time towards the evening. Load up the next day. While three days of good sunny weather is great, this process can be crammed into two. Just don't put up more than you can handle at once.

    For gathering, if you do the windrows right, a pickup and/or trailer can travel between two of them with one on each side pitchforking into it. If you put up temporary sideracks on a pickup, you can get a good bit of hay into it. Here a younger child can be packing as it is toss into the bed.

    For storage, under cover, put down a layer of pallets and then loose stack the hay on them, putting down a fairly even layer each time. Don't walk on the hay while stacking. It would be better to have it settle on its own. Just put on a couple of loads at a time.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  11. Perhaps you could try a BCS Walking tractor,one of their dealers sells a small round baler for the BCS,you could find it for by doing a google search for BCS,he is in Kentucky.THis may be cheaper than conventional hayi ng equipment.We may buy one because in my hurry to get a tractor i bought one that is too small for a modern baler(2n-9n)
    Frank
     
  12. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have done what ken suggest but on a smaller scale. Using just a garden tractor It will beat a tractor to pieces but it works. Cut down the grass with the mower. Remove the eject chute on the mower deck to give you a wider grass spray pattern. Let it dry, Come back with the mower deck set low and "BLOW" the grass for for drying and blow it again into windrows. You can now either hand load it or I even use a yard sweeper to collect a "bale" to lay in my barn.

    Its not a perfect system, isnt good for LARGE areas, grass usage isnt as effecient and is much smaller than baled hay but for my couple of critters it did work.

    Its a shame bailers is so expensive. Even the little mini bailers are (15K). There are so many mini farmers who can justify the new stuff and even the old gear is to much money to invest for a small number of bales needed. Yet you hate to have a field go to see and waste what resource you have.
     
  13. That's why I haven't purchased any equipment so far. The problem is I have yet to be able to get hay from the same person twice, either because they are retiring, or they were unreliable the first time.


     
  14. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    You might consider different ways to make haylage, rather than hay. I've always been intrigued by the possibilities with that.

    I've heard of some who cut the grass, pile it up, cover with a tarp, drive on it to pack it and let it ferment. The trick is getting it sealed up well.

    I've often wondered if someone could make haylage in plastic bags. Just fill it up with grass clippings and double bag it or something.

    I have ZERO experience with this, but it's a thought.

    Jena
     
  15. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Jena:

    Yes, it can be done on a small scale. You need a metal garbage can with some holes punched in the bottom and heavy-duty yard debris bags (garbage bags may be tool flimsy). Put one bag in the can with the top folded over the rim. Then put a second bag inside it. Cut the grasses and allow them to dry down a bit. Then pack as solidly in the can as possible. Tie off the inside bag, then tie off the outside bag and turn the can over to dump out the bag. Bags will be heavy and awkward to handle. You can also put up sweet corn silage if you can run it through a yard chipper.

    To increase feed value whole kernel corn might be put between layers to soak up moisture.

    I have also heard of people using the plastic barrels with the screw-down lids for this. When ready for use the barrel is opened, put in its side and the contents forked out.

    Someone once wrote to to Countryside & SSJ. They square baled freshly cut forages and then double-bagged the bale. Said it was heavy, but provided excellent feed.

    I would not recommend this for more than a couple of small critters, such as goats, though, as it would be labor intensive.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  16. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    For those of you that live outside the snow belt you need to acquaint yourselves with rotation grazing and stockpiling forage in place. I have the equipment to make hay but have found that it is not necessary. Instead I let the animals (commercial cattle herd) gather the hay. I have numerous partitions in my pasture and I rotate the animals. This past winter I put 5 round bales out during a short ice/snow storm but managed otherwise without feeding any hay. The cattle wasted the hay and went back to eating the snow covered grass. I have tall fescue as the main forage and by fertilizing timely and controlling where the cattle eat and crap up the pasture I can easily have abundant feed available year around without baling. I have found that by not baling I have greatly improved the profitability as I no longer have the expense associated with the task. A side benefit is that it certainly is a lot nicer to just go check on the cattle during inclimate weather as opposed to having to feed under those conditions. :)
     
  17. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I envy you agman!

    I have used rotational grazing on a pretty intensive scale since we bought this farm (three years). I'm am very, very impressed by the improvement of the pasture. It is truly amazing.

    I do not have enough pasture (or I have too many cows?) to stockpile for the fall and winter, though I give them the corn stalks which lasts a bit.

    I am thinking of planting....the word is escaping me....turnips and that....this year after we take the silage corn off.

    Jena
     
  18. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Jena, early on when I was less confident about stockpiling, I too planted turnips. My cattle did not like them. As winter advanced, the turnips were eaten however. I have found that rye grain or rye grass interseeded works better here. I cannot get comfortable not having something to fall back on in event I run short of pasture stockpiled fescue and probably never will. I feed my cattle so that they remain in good condition year around and I remain concerned about having adequate feed on hand. I live in an area that was declared a drought disaster 2 years ago and managed to have ample feed even then. I do not know if you have tried it but if you will fertilize early, you will get some growth even off the dew. I now fertilize for fall in late August when it is still extremely hot and it is typically our dryest month. Being able to balance the amount of grass available to graze is the most difficult part of rotational grazing. To promote spring/summer forage I spread the fertilizer out over several months doing about 1/3 of the area each application starting on the dryest ground first and ending on the bottom land that is usually wet. I graze the same sequence, holding the bottom land until last when we are usually in our dryer season. I manage to run a cow/calf on about 1 and 1/4 acres feeding no grain and marketing the feeder calf at around 400+ lbs. Against the farm extensions advice, I also calve all year long. This gives me better cash flow and I am not impacted by seasonal prices as I get an average of the year's price by selling into the low and the high of the market.
     
  19. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    Put a nice sign on the field "HAY ON SHARES" worked for us.

    mikell