Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Putting out Hay for the Sheep

Every two weeks the sheepies need a new big bale of hay put out for them. I make them last two weeks, but sometimes its pretty tough! Usually I have to give about one or two supplemental square bale feedings that last day or so. My goal though is to make each bale last two weeks--this way I still have 8 more weeks of hay left (actually ten, but I have to put out another for the rams next time around). With lambing almost here, I will be feeding allot more square bales, so theoretically the rounds should last slightly longer. Maybe.

About the last 5 days I have to pull hay out from the center of the round bale so the sheep can get to it. These bales this year are baled very tight, and there is usually a two foot diameter core left after I take the ring off the last day or two.

So I thought I'd take some pictures of the 'putting out of the bale'. These bales are about perfect in size for my "Bale Buggy". They've loaded very easily for the most part and aren't so small that they don't last a week or so big we can't tip them over. I bought the buggy several years ago and through trial and error (and different sizes of bales!) my Dad and I have worked up a pretty good system, so it only takes about 20 minutes or so to put one out. I don't have a tractor, so Dad fires up his old Allis Chalmers and we haul the buggy with that. The first year I had the buggy I used my Ranger pickup and it was extremely hard on it, plus I finally got it stuck big time in the barnyard! Supposedly the buggy can be hooked up somehow where you can trigger a switch inside your vehicle to work the brakes to pick up and dump the bale, but we just use blocks of wood instead. Okay, here we go!

Blocks are behind the wheels and tractor is backing up, while the 'claw' rises up in the air.

Bale has been speared and I've moved the blocks around to the front of the wheels, tractor pulls forward now.

The 'claw' pulls the bale up and into the buggy, when the wheels lock on the blocks.
Dad driving the tractor with loaded bale out into the sheep paddock.

Once near where the bale is to be dumped, I stick the blocks behind the wheels to reverse the process.
"Claw" has been pulled out, and now bale is being dumped.

Finally! We were starving! (After the bale is unloaded, we tip it on it's end and remove the wrap, put the wire panel around it and cover with a tarp).

Positioning buggy against the next bale to be loaded in two weeks. Once this is done, we unhitch the tractor and the buggy tongue rests on a stand.

It's always nice to get a new bale put out, knowing that the sheepies will be well fed for another few weeks. Occasionally the weather will throw a wrench into things--like freezing down gates or collapsing trees onto the hay (Ice Storm), but most of the time it works just fine.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I wish I could do something like that, but alas, no rest for the wicked here. Our hay has been terrible this year which has really gotten me to thinking about feeding just a little hay, then grass hay pellets mixed with alfalfa pellets. Bales of grass hay were at $18.99 for a 100 lb. rectangular bale.
Thanks for the pictures. It's nice to see the one of your father driving the tractor. :)