Feeding Hay 201

For years we have fed on two different ranches… ours and the one we lease from a neighbor.  It helps keep cows/newborn calves separate, just in case someone gets ill and wants to spread it… plus it is easier on the fields and creek to spread the cattle out.  I’ve shared many pics of us feeding and graining and chopping ice and calving, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never sent out photos of how Johnny feeds.

 While it takes two of us to feed on this place, Johnny has always fed by himself with this cool contraption on our leased ranch.
It is called… get this… a bale feeder!
Vernon has pulled it out of the shed and is unhitching the bale feeder from the tractor.  The large bales in the haystack behind will be loaded onto the feeder with the deadly looking grapple hook on the front of the tractor.  This is a large hay stack… each bale measuring 4’x4’x8′ or so.  Each stack contains either first cutting hay, or second cutting, even third cutting if we managed to get some!  Each has its various qualities of protein content.  What I know is, the first cutting of hay, the stuff we cut in June… it is full of obnoxious grass pollen that makes me wheeze when I breathe and makes my lungs sound like Rice Krispies cereal.  We also prefer square bales to round… the thinking there is that round bales aren’t packed as tightly as square and so moisture (rain/snow/dew) can soak in and rot the hay.  Although the outsides are tan, the insides of the bale will still be green.
Once loaded, you pull the baling twine off of each bale… the bales are shoved to the front where they are chopped into pieces and spit out onto the ground.  This negates having to have a person back on the trailer pitching the hay off.
Kinda spiffy engineering.  Smart people those farmers… engineered themselves right out of a job… That’s why in the old days this ranch could support 3 families with occasional extra help… but now it is a one family job with all this mechanization making life easier!

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