Monday, August 24, 2009

Hay Day

Hay day is the worst day of the year. Actually, it’s two or three days, depending on how much I can get from one hay supplier. I like to get as much as I can so it’s off my mind. That’s one of my big worries—feeding these horses. I always worry about the availability of hay. You’d think I wouldn’t have to give it a second thought in hay land. But I have a harder time finding hay down here where it grows right next door than I did in Jersey where people don’t even know what hay is.

For one thing, I don’t know if they take care of their horses different down here or what but no one seems to care about feeding their horses dusty or moldy hay. Whenever I warn that I won’t feed dusty or moldy hay, the farmers act like I’m one of those pain-in-the-ass Yankees who nitpicks about silly things and doesn’t know his head from a hole in the wall about raising farm critters. They eye me suspiciously and accuse me of putting blankets on my horses and talking baby talk to them, which I don’t do. Well, maybe the baby talk. Like Minnie. She’s just so cute you’ve got to.

I have to come up with reasons I won’t feed crap hay or else they’ll ignore me and sneak it in with the good stuff. Not because they’re necessarily trying to screw me, but because they think I am wrong. I should stop treating them horses like namby-pambies because them jokers are lucky they’re eating at all. Period. So I tell them I have an old guy who colics if he even looks at moldy hay. He’s allergic to it. Or he has heaves and can’t have any dust. And I have show horses, expensive show horses, and no they won’t eat around the mold—I have no grass here—they’ll eat every wisp of hay I put out there they’re so dumb. I’m still paying the vet bills from the last time… Not really but that’s what I say.

That usually stops the good guys but I’ve gotten hay from bad guys who’ve unloaded entire moldy, weedy loads on me that looked perfectly fine from the outside but was rotten and smelled like a grandmother’s basement on the inside and full of trash to boot. Very odd since the one we opened up to inspect was clean and green. I throw this hay over the fence for Eldon’s cows and he throws me back good bales even though I keep telling him don’t do it, I’m just glad to get rid of the stuff.

Forget bringing it back. After you get a bad load of hay, the supplier conveniently stops answering his phone and if you catch the wife, she has no idea what you’re talking about. She didn’t even know her husband was making hay for goodness sake. You might as well have the dog on the phone. You can take a chance and reload the whole thing and hope the supplier is there when you arrive or just drop it off whether he’s there or not, but either way, he’s not going to cough up your dough now or when he comes home because he’s already spent it on four NASCAR tickets, the light bill, not the electric bill, the light bill, and if it was a really big order, new tractor tires. Plus that hay was fine.

I never have the strength to bring it back. I’m lucky I go get it. In Jersey, I had it delivered. Every month I’d get a delivery of forty bales and they were always clean and green. Of course they were also double the price but you have to wonder how my hay man in Jersey could acquire good bales and in small quantities, when I have a hard time here where they make the stuff and when I do find it, I have to take all they’ve got and squeeze it in every nook and cranny, sometimes even filling up stalls to the ceilings, because there won’t be any more till the next cutting which is eight months away in May. They don’t store it for you down here. And they don’t deliver it.

So I take what I can and act real nice to Kurt when we have to go get it because he’s about ready to kill these horses for all the trouble they put us through including producing tons of manure and making us call the vet and then mysteriously getting better right before the vet arrives and stuff like eating the barn walls and breaking the electric fence, that kind of thing.

We got two hundred bales the other day. They were about forty pounds each. The hay guy, his wife, and the old father, all in straw hats and leather gloves, helped us load it into the horse trailer and pickup truck. I kept trying to make small talk so we could take a rest but they were in pretty good shape and kept on going, even the old guy who had white eyebrows and knotty legs. In fact, the old guy wasn’t even breathing heavy. It was kind of embarrassing since we were about ready to die.

They got us loaded up pretty quick. But when we got home, we had to do it by ourselves. Kelly and Motley got in the trailer and pushed the bales down. They came tumbling out onto the grass right in front of the hay shed and Kurt and I picked them up and stacked them inside. After a hundred, we had to go back and get the second load. By number one-hundred and eighty, I didn’t think I could go on. We were exhausted and we were starving. You really work up an appetite moving hay. The horses hung their heads over the fence and watched us like they had nothing better to do.

Now is the time that you would call and order a pizza for lunch but there’s no delivery of any kind out in the country. Now and then you might get lucky and the firehouse is having some kind of a fundraiser and you can go down there and buy a quart of Brunswick stew or barbecue, but in general, the best you can expect when you are exhausted and starving is putting some Pizza Bites in the oven. Times like this, you are too tired to even drive to town to get some Dairy Queen.

But the horses have hay.

16 comments:

Beth said...

Man, I hope those horses appreciate what you go through to feed them! I'm glad your Hay Day is over with---hope you got the good stuff this year!

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

That's quite a load of hay! You must be tired and sore from tossing all those bales.
Maybe they are selling all the good hay to distributors in New Jersey.

Amy Tate said...

Debi, I used to buy my hay from a fellow by the name of Don Pugh. He was always so careful about mold, and if I happen to find some mold, then he'd refund me. He owns a large farm on Bent Mountain and another couple of fields off Plantation Road. Email me off post if you'd like his number.

CountryDew said...

Oh dear. As a farmer's wife, and one who is looking out the window watching her husband make hay, I am somewhat dismayed. We try not to sell horse folks hay that will make their animals sick. We're not all that rednecked...

Claudia said...

Hey,
(no pun),
I didn't know you bought hay...I have more than I need this year, wish you'd said something...We could have had it cut and baled, you could have just paid for the cutting and baling, would have given you the hay..I feed my minis with it, so its pretty clean..
Need more???

Chrsi said...

I used to have horses and I know what you mean about the problem of buying good hay. I don't think these farmers think much of horses since they've now got tractors. I don't even think they know horses have one stomach and can easily get digestive problems. I used to buy alfalfa hay because it's better for the horses but also the fields are usually cleaner if they've been put in alfalfa. Costs more but worth it in the long run. What a job, glad it's done for now. It's good to see you posting again.

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Well, like I said, CountryDew, there are some good guys too! As a matter of fact, I have confidence in the ones I wrote about getting it from this last time. So far, so good. And look at Eldon, taking all my trash hay! I know you're not all rednecked! lol

Thanks Amy, I think I'm okay. Claudia might even have some more for me.

Thanks for the comments!

Becky Mushko said...

The problem is that so few folks square bale anymore. It's too labor intensive. We haven't done it since the 80s.

Then there's Virginia's weather, which hasn't been conducive to hay-making--too wet for hay to cure well this year. Or too dry, so the hay doesn't grow.

Plus a lot more cows are in the area than horses, and cows aren't picky.

gingerhillery@mac.com said...

Nothing like the exhaustion of moving hay! Great exercise! I know the feeling of being too tired to even go get something to eat. But, oh the joy of knowing the animals will be fed through winter! We still smile as we go up in the loft and see our hay. I am hoping we will get a second cutting soon.

Don't you wish your horses would at least write you a thank you note or something?

PS Glad you are back to writing.

Rural Rambler said...

Oh man I found your blog from your comment on Gail's blog, At the Farm. I've only read this entry and I am hooked. Haven't had to worry about hay for awhile, I'd like to have to mess with some hay again, maybe someday.

Anyhoo I am enjoying your blog and your wonderful sense of humor. Going to have to add Greener Pastures to my daily reads!

Gilly said...

How manyh horses do you have? That seems an awful lot of hay - or do they just have very big appetities? I know nothing at alll about horses, not having lived in the real country, of which there is precious little in England anyway!

No seriously, we have some lovely country around, and some exceedingly lonely and isolated areas. But I am not a horsey person. Dogs, yes. Horses, no.

But I do love reading about you and your country life :)

Jeff said...

I love your sense of humor! "The horses hung their heads over the fence and watched us like they had nothing better to do." They were probably saying to themselves, "what are those crazy fools doing, anyway??"
It looks like your network has come up with some good suggestions for the next time you need hay, though!

Cynda said...

That is one big load of hay!!

marieDee said...

Wow, you work hard! Reading your post leaves me feeling bad for whining about how tired I am after my day at work.

Thanks for visiting my blog and for the encouraging words you shared.

Jamie Ferraioli said...

Hilarious. That picture with the bales of hay is incredible. And I thought it was hard work when you got the hay delivered in Jackson. Those dang horses don't know how good they got it.

Motley said...

NOOOOBODY Likes Hay day - until it's done!