At last the day finally came, when my round bale hay guy and I worked out a time for him to deliver my big bales. The guy is a Mennonite, brother to one of my neighbors, and I've been calling back and forth with him for about four weeks. He is an extremely nice guy, but it just took some time to work out the details. He was very concerned he couldn't get the load into my driveway, due to the narrow gate by the road. I asked another neighbor if he would stack the bales for me with his tractor, once they were unloaded. The backup plan was if the trailer didn't fit through the gate, he would dump the bales on the ditch alongside the road. This wasn't the best case scenario, since the guy who was going to move them couldn't get there until the next day. We often have some real weirdos driving around at night, so I was concerned that someone might think it great sport to set the bales on fire...and poof there goes my $ and my hay for the year. Backing up for the first try.When D. the hay guy arrived, he had his cousin with him, to help direct him into the driveway. I really tried not to laugh, but these guys were so funny! D. seems to be a bit high strung, and he was having a hard time trusting himself as he backed in the gate. R. (the cousin) was ultra calm and kept assuring him he could make it. He 'talked him down' several times. D.'s voice would rise almost into hysterics at times, but there were no angry shouts or words, which was refreshing.
It took about three or four tries until D. made it into the driveway, then it was a simple matter of backing up the drive and dumping. This wagon is so clever in that you release about two levers and the bales dump off to the right, slowly and easily. No unloading required. As they were driving off I could hear D. saying in a subdued voice to R... I was afraid I'd get hung on the fence... and I could hear R. calmly telling him that he did okay.
A short time later they were back with the second load, and managed to back it in with only two tries. D. told me later that R. was a truck driver, and 'he laughs at me sometimes, cause he can drive anywhere!', said with a somewhat sheepish expression.
I was quite astonished by the size of the bales! They are huge--I just went out and measured them--most of them are five by five, with some closer to five by 4.5. Just hope we can load 'em on the old bale buggy! They are net wrapped, and a mixture of brome and grass hay. D. said it's the best 'low growth' he could find in his bales, with the strange wet spring we had. I don't see any big stemmy stuff or horrors--briars, seed heads or cockleburrs. I'll probably put the first bale out in about a week or so. There are 16 bales and I think there will be plenty to last well into Spring. I also hope to get about 50 more squares before I'm done buying hay this fall.
It's mighty nice to see those bales sitting out there, as the pasture starts fading away for the season. My main flock is down to 18 now, with 13 of those Shetlands, so I feel it's very manageable, and the hay should go quite a ways. Once I feed the first bale, I'll have a better idea of how many weeks one will last, so therefore, how the supply will last through the winter. There are so many variables--like how much of the bale is 'good hay' that they will eat---it's hard to know before that first bale is consumed.
On another note, my last four wethers went off to their new home on Friday. It was kinda hard to see them go, since I was quite attached to Kelly and Angus in particular, but also a relief. Kelly was always 'my baby' from the get go, but Angus managed to worm his way into my heart, when I spent so much time with him and Deen while readying them for the Celtic festival. They have went to a nice home, and will (eventually) run with goats on a larger field. Right now they are close to the house, in a smaller area, so they can get to know their new Shepherd, Jama. She plans to eventually use their fiber along with her Angora goats, and just enjoy their sheepie personalities. The flock has calmed down considerably, since the boys were really pestering the ewes. It's that time of the year when the ewes start getting feisty as they prepare to come into season.
I'll be setting up the breeding group of six ewes and the ram by the end of the week. Right now, Sprat and his new buddies Orion and Omen are enjoying a bit of extra freedom. I turned them out from their smallish paddock onto one that is about three times as big. It is mostly a 'dry paddock' but there are newly blown leaves to snack on, as well as lots of interesting things to explore--like the big dozier pile. They really enjoy the freedom, as I've noticed most of the Shetlands in particular do. Exploring and snacking is a great deal of their personality.
Well, I best be off to cover up the wood piles--it's suppose to rain and I hope it does, since we need it!