Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hay ...

… is for horses! I’d say we are really close to being ready for winter this year, at least when it comes to having enough hay on hand. Seven horses come into the barn to eat flakes of hay bales morning and night, supplemented with grain that is suited to their age, weight and what they need nutritionally. The hay we feed inside is square bales, which weigh 45 lbs each. These are a mixture of high fiber timothy-grass, brome (described as a companion grass to timothy that is slightly higher in protein), and a smattering of alfalfa. I like to think of alfalfa as jet fuel for horses – unadulterated protein.

We bought about 500 square bales and then went looking for a round bale supplier. Summer 2007 was so dry and the fall so wet that hay is scarce. Luckily, we found a neighbor that has good, tightly-baled 1100-pound round bales that are a mix of timothy, brome and canary grass; the latter isn’t especially nutritious but it serves as the necessary forage horses guts need. We place these two at a time in the pasture so the horses have free access to feed as they choose, keeping themselves fed and warm during the winter weather. Our neighbor will deliver 50 round bales in total, six bales per trip (no extra charge), which should feed the horses through the end of April, when we can turn them out to pasture again. On average, they eat two round bales a week.

Once the hay bales are all here and we've moved back into the house, I'll be singing: "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."

That hay input represents a lot of manure output – think ahead to your spring garden planting! It’s green gold and you can have all you can haul at no cost!


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