Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stacking Hay

Today I got more hay and wanted to do a post about stacking hay, since this is a pretty big deal to me. Yes, that's right. Stacking hay is important to me. Some people are obsessive about their woodpiles, you know. One of my favorite former coworkers actually took pictures of his woodpile and showed us because he was so proud of it. Every piece had to be stacked just so!

Back to the hay. When I was working on the campus farm when I was in college, my boss was very particular about how the hay got stacked, and for good reason. When you're stacking 600+ bales in a loft it's important the hay is stacked very neatly and tightly so it doesn't fall over. Also, it's sometimes necessary to walk/climb on the hay and you don't want to be climbing all over a wobbly hay stack.

As I was stacking my hay today, I took pictures of the steps with my cell phone since I was too lazy busy to go get my real camera which was in the house. The pictures came out pretty badly. See Exhibit A, below.

I decided to use a few old pictures since they turned out much better. These pictures are from 2 summers ago. I'm amazed at how green everything is! We have had such a bad drought this summer the only things still green are the tree leaves. Our grass is brown.

Ok, back to stacking. When you load hay you want to stack it so the hay bales interlock and create a solid stack. You lay out the bottom row one way. With our trailer, it works best if the bottom row of bales run lengthwise front to back. I like to do about 2 rows, then start building up. If you lay out the whole bottom of the trailer first, then you have to walk on the hay to build your stack up, and that isn't as easy as walking on the deck of the trailer. After 2 rows of hay is down, then I put the next bales on top, creating a second level. Only this time, instead of running the bales lengthwise front to back, they go the other direction. They lay lengthwise from side to side. Does that make sense? If you click the picture to enlarge it, you can see the bottom level of bales are running the opposite direction as the second level. See the third level of bales on the trailer? The right hand side is stacked correctly, the left is not. My father in law stacked these, and as much as I love him he doesn't quite stack the hay correctly. I can't really say anything though, because I was glad to have the help when we loaded hay. Pretty much the thing to remember with hay, especially when loading it in a vehicle, is to make a solid foundation. Stack each level in alternating directions so the hay locks itself in.

Now, when you get back to your barn or shed, another thing you want to remember is proper ventilation. Hay will get moldy if it does not have enough airflow. It's good to stack your hay up off the ground, and pallets work great for this. Lay down your pallets and then you're ready for your first layer. The bottom layer of hay gets stacked on it's side, cut side up. How do you know which side is the cut side? It's easy, it's the one that has been cut! It's very neat and tidy and usually the side that hurts your legs if you have shorts on. Not that I'd stack hay in shorts....that's another rule. If you see in the picture above, the second row is cut side out.

Ok, back to the bottom layer. Cut side goes up, so the hay can breathe. And also maybe so it won't wick moisture up from the floor. Or maybe it was just my boss's weird rule. All I know is cut side goes up! It's important to make sure the bales are as close to each other as possible. Then when the second row goes on, the hay goes the opposite direction. In the picture below you can see the bottom row is stacked so the butt end is facing the camera. The second row is stacked so the long side is facing the camera. Third row is butt end to the camera, fourth row is long side to the camera, etc. etc. One thing you want to remember is start working up before you get a whole level laid out. It's much easier that way!

The end goal is to have a neat, sturdy hay stack. One you can be proud of! Am I the only one who gets proud of hay stacks? I mean, look at me, I'm blogging about stacking hay. You know what I miss? Seeing the whole loft of the sheep, horse, and dairy barns full of hay from my college days. Oh, don't get me wrong...I don't miss the long hot summer days spent in a stifling loft, my eyes so swollen and itchy (I'm allergic), unloading tractor-trailers full of hay. I just miss looking at it when it was all stacked! I wish I had a few pictures of that. That was before everyone had a cell phone with a camera. Heck, that was really before most everyone had a digital camera.

Well, there you have it. My essay on stacking hay. Jordan would be proud!

And just because I'm bored and it's Sunday night, I drew a schematic on Paint to show you what I mean. I don't know if it helps, but I had fun making it. You can see the bottom row bales are stacked cut side up. Then the additional rows alternate directions.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Market Bag

About a year ago I tried knitting a market bag. It looked easy enough, but it had a 4-part repeating pattern and I just could not keep it straight to save my life. That was before I knew how to tell the difference between a knit stitch and purl stitch. I wanted to find another market bag pattern, so I searched Ravelry and found this one. The pattern was very easy, but it was a tad fiddly at the beginning (the bottom of the bag) since I opted to use dpns instead of crocheting it. I frogged it once to make it as close to perfect as I could get it, since I want to enter it in the county fair next week.

I knitted it in a cotton yarn so it would be washable. Next time (oh yes, there will be a next time) I'll use something a little thicker. I'd like to do several of these in different colors.

It definitely stretches a lot. I took it to the farmers market this morning and it held a half dozen ears of corn and about the same number of tomatoes and had room for much more.

Maybe I should have filled it with something nice and light like yarn to get better pictures.

If you're looking for a nice, easy market bag, I definitely recommend this one!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Goat Clipping

This evening I showed Devin how to wash Ida so he (we) could clip her to get ready for the county fair. Things started out well...

But you know how dramatic goats are. She had to throw a tantrum.

He got her settled down and finished her bath. Have I mentioned how incredibly easy it is bathing goats vs. sheep? Man, it is easy! Not that bathing sheep is hard, it's just wooly. Very wooly.

Once Ida dried, Devin started clipping her. He was pretty comfortable with it and did a really good job. She's not completely done, but we did 75% of the work.

Kylee kept her happy by feeding her leaves while Devin worked.

They make a good team!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Before and After

We just got back from a week in Tennessee, and until my brain decompresses and I finally get brave enough to sort through all the pictures and blog about it, I'll do a quick post about the sheep.

Our county fair is coming up in a few weeks and I've been thinking about getting the Barley and Bean (the ewe lambs) fitted and presentable. They're Romney/ Southdown crosses, which made it a little hard for me to decide how to fit them for the show. Southdowns are shown slick shorn, which is easy to do. Shear off all the wool, do some little fitting work on the face and leg wool, and you're done. Romneys are shown in fleece, but it takes a lot of fitting to make them look nice. It's been a while since I've shown, and I don't exactly have all the equipment needed to do a really nice fitting job.

I had to use the goat stand since I don't have a sheep fitting stand. I'd like to start saving money for one though. I put Barley on the stand and started trying to fit her. I then realized it was very hot out and it was going to take a lot of time and energy to fit her and her sister. So I decided to slick shear her.

She went from this:

to this:

Girlfriend needs to work on her abs.

She still needs some finishing touches, but it's a start. I just bought a pair of Oster A5 clippers on Ebay. They were used but came with 2 sets of blades. I tried to use them yesterday and realized both pairs of blades were so dull they probably wouldn't have even cut butter. I put them in the mail to Premier this morning and I'm really hoping they get back in a jiffy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Halter Training Begins

I've got less than a month until the county fair and these girls have hardly ever even worn a halter. They've got to be halter broke and trained to stand still ASAP! Nothing like waiting until the last minute! I think Devin and Kylee will definitely be helping me out with this one, especially since one or both of them will be showing!

And the girls now have names! The little one (closest) is Bean (like Coffee Bean), and the big one is Barley!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


This is my rabbit. I've had her a little over a month now. My homesteading friend I got her from put her in with a buck so I'd hopefully getting her as a bred doe. I've been waiting and watching and haven't seen any signs of her being pregnant. Today I caught a glimpse of something for the first time, and I can't believe I didn't see it before now. What did I see?


No wonder there were no babies! She is a he! I almost burst out laughing when I saw them! Not sure what I'll do now...either keep him and find a doe or sell him to buy a doe.

And now you can at least say you know what rabbit testicles look like! :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Is It Fall Yet?

I thought I'd share a recent picture of Ida (left) and June. I have been pretty busy lately and have been neglecting my blog. Tonight I didn't get inside from my chores until 9. I was busy piddling around and getting things done that I've been putting off. I was drenched in sweat and felt so gross. It's been so hot and humid lately and tonight the low is 80*. It's nights like this I am thankful I'm not Amish. Seriously, I don't know how they do it.

I've been downsizing a bit around here and it feels pretty good. I sold my two ram lambs, gave Purl to some friends, and sold my guineas. I couldn't take their noise anymore (the guineas, that is). Plus they always chased the chickens and turkeys and I didn't want to put up with that rudeness around here. It's so quiet and peaceful now. I still have to sell Brutus, the buck kid. Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later. Oh yeah, and I just gave 10 leftover chicks to a friend of mine. Fewer mouths to feed and less time spent outside on these miserable days.

Hopefully I'll have something interesting to talk about soon, but until then enjoy the goat picture! :-)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fuzzy Faces

The ewe lambs have been weaned for about a week now. I usually wean around 8 weeks but these girls were weaned somewhere around 10 weeks because I didn't want to put them in with my ram lambs. The ram lambs were sold on Sunday, so the pen was free. Today I vaccinated, eartagged, and dewormed them, but before I did that I took a few pictures.

I haven't named them yet, but I need to soon. I need to be able to call them something besides "the big girl" and "the little girl".

This is the big girl. She seems smart and alert and a little wary.

She is the one keeping her eye on me while her sister is busy eating.

And this adorable face belongs to the little girl. She has her mother's fluffy teddy bear-esque face. I love it.

I plan on showing them (or Devin will show them) at our county fair in August and the one drawback is that I'll have to shear them. I'll miss these adorable faces.

Big girl again.

So, any name ideas? Their mother is Darla, and their father was unnamed, so that's not much inspiration.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


She's spunky!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Purl's New Home

You may remember that Purl had a hard lambing this spring. She prolapsed, so she can't be bred again. As much as I loved her, I couldn't keep her because I just don't have the space on my small acreage for a ewe I can't breed. Sometimes being practical stinks, because I really like Purl and we especially bonded after this past spring.

We took a few photos together before we took her to her new home.

When she first came to live here about 2 years ago, she was pretty skittish and didn't want anything to do with me. Now she's pretty calm and loves to eat treats (her favorite is broccoli) out of my hand. She didn't mind the hugs and kisses too much. :-)

So we took Purl to her new home, where I know she'll be very happy and have a great life. How do I know? Because she went to live with the family where I got June!

She'll have a few goat buddies and another sheep. Do you recognize this ewe? If you think you see some family resemblance, you're right. She's Purl's ewe lamb from last year (see some lamb pictures here). Her name is Jane, and she has got some mega wool! Believe it or not she was sheared in August last year, so this isn't even a full year's fleece.

It didn't take long for Purl to settle in and start grazing.

The goats were not quite sure of their new friend. This wether here is Mammoth's son, born last year. He's looking for a pet home, if any readers are interested!

I'll miss Purl, but I know she's going to be well taken care of and loved. Plus, I can always go visit if I wanted. :-)
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