Learning how to check hay

Haying season is in full swing up here. We are one of the ranches fortunate enough to be able to grow all of our own hay so that come winter, when hay prices are through the roof, we don’t have to worry.

I wasn’t raised on a farm or ranch where growing hay was an option. We were way up in the mountains right outside of Yellowstone Park. Jason however, grew up on a small cattle ranch where they also grew a lot of hay. He knows all about it.Β I know nothing except that it needs water and then you cut it down and bale it up and feed it when there is no grass available. Simple right? Ya, not so much.

Apparently different kinds of hay take different kinds of conditions. Alfalfa is more temperamental than just grass hay. After you cut it down, you have to let it dry a bit before you rake it into rows. However you don’t want it too dry or all the leaves, which is where all the good nutrients are, will fall off. It can’t be too wet though when you go to bale it up, or it will mold. Are you confused yet? I am.

Oh and then there is the thing about rain. You desperately want it while the hay is growing, but the second you cut it, a rain cloud is the ranchers worst enemy. It goes back to the too much moisture equals mold bit. I made the mistake the other day of mentioning how badly I wanted it to rain. I mean seriously, my yard looks like fall! You would have thought I had said I wanted fire to fall from the heavens. I won’t make that mistake again!

A couple days ago Jason took us with himΒ to check hay to see if it was ready to be raked yet. Remember it needs to be somewhat dry but not too dry! This is where the kids got their lesson in hay checking.

First you pick a spot and flip the hay over. Obviously the stuff on top will be dryer than the stuff on the bottom.

Then you bend it around a bit to see how moist it actually is. You don’t want it to break when you bend it but it can’t be wet either.

And repeat.

Then realize that you need pictures of the kids doing this also. And hey, you might as well throw in some hurdle lessons while you’re at it!

“Now pay close attention kids so you will know more than you mother does.”

Oh, and ya, it rained on the way back to the house. Oops!

Love from here,



15 thoughts on “Learning how to check hay

  1. That country looks so beautiful and clean to me…but being a city slicker, I think you would find me lifeless from a heart attack just trying to walk from one end of your beautiful property to another.

  2. I tried growing a bit of oat grass in a small field when I lived in the desert. I cut it before it formed sead heads, while it was still green. My little ones loved it, but it didn’t last long. Hay is hard to get here, clean, that is. I can’t feed alfalfa, as weight and laminitis is an issue…
    Everything looks good there, I’m happy for you!

  3. The farmers here (most grow alfalfa) cursed the NO RAIN last year, and this year they’re cursing the nearly daily rain. Not a whole lot of baling going on at the moment!

    Cute, cute pictures of the kiddos. So fun for them getting to “work.” And that big Montana sky, as usual. Beautiful.

    PS — I’ll bet Liberty is chunkin’ up by now! Do a thigh circumference check for me, will ya? You know, what I mean, right around where the diaper cinches. I can’t exactly pinch at ’em from where I’m at. LOL

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