Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hay dilemna (tl;fa*)

(*too long, fell asleep) It was so perfect when we moved here in 2008, Carsten ("California guy") made hay on our field, and instead of paying us, gave us hay.
But over the last few years things got complicated. He stopped making small bales, which we require, having no tractor, and so he'd have to always go get it from another hay farmer whenever we called for hay. And we called, and called, and called, with no return call until weeks had passed. We learned how to deal with him, calling several weeks in advance, but it just got worse and worse. I blogged a month ago that we walked by his house, saw him, and asked for hay. Since then my man has been calling every few days. I have a backup though! Our fish guy/general contractor has some really nice hay. Since I knew I could not trust Carsten to bring hay before we were completely out, I asked him last Sunday to please bring us by a few bales, and tack it on our next bill for whatever. He's semi-reliable, but not great. The irony is, his website says, "Reliability brings trust." which now, of course, I have to quote everytime he lets us down. I'd say he's "semi-reliable", but he has a contract with us and his very expensive investment of trout in our ponds, so we must remain on good terms, as he's here for the next 5 years, taking care of our ponds. Anyway, the thing is, our fish guy was a crappy backup. Sunday he said he'll bring a couple of bales over the next day. Thursday we were completely out of hay and when I got home from work, and saw no hay... My man called him up at 8 pm and said, "You promised to bring some over and now we have none." He was pissed that we called him after a hard day of work, and though he'd forgotten to bring it by, he just said that I should drive over to his colleague's house and ask for 2 bales. I put the hay bag in the Prius and drove over to find a dark house. The hard part was the overwhelming smell of fresh hay wafting from the enormous hay barn next to the house, hay that my horse/donkey would have liked to have that night. I knocked, no answer. I drove home, and told my man, "No one was there..." and then broke into tears. I guess I had my hopes so high that on this day, we'd have hay from one of these people, and now hay. So fish guy promised my man to bring a couple bales by in the morning. My man said I'd be here til 9 am so I can feed it. If he's later than that, would he please put some hay out for the animals? Of course no one was here at 9:15 this morning as I drove to work. But at some point fish guys brought over two bales and threw them into our work shed. He did not give any to Baasha and Bellis. That evening, California boy shows up with 45 bales of hay, 4 weeks late. The good news is it's edible hay. Our last delivery in July, of 20 bales, was so crappy, so musty, that the vet actually wrote it on the bill for Baasha's exam last week, saying, "Hay leaves something to be desired." (Not outright rotten, but on its way.) I still have this feeling that the less-than-fresh hay is responsible for Baasha's digestive upset lately. We'll see! ** My man and Carsten had a long talk. I guess Baasha nibbled on his coat during the talk, and Carsten actually touched my horse for the first time. I always suspected him as someone who doesn't really *like* horses, due to the fact that in all Baasha's attempts, he never acknowledged him. (He's a successful show jumper, but I see that horses are his family business so there doesn't seem to be any feeling there.) Like I act around a dog that runs up and jumps on me, he ignores my horse. However, when the donkey walked up, he made mention. My man, noticing the difference, said, "Oh, you like donkeys better than horses?" (hehehehe, I'm so glad he said that, I would have said the same thing, had I been here.) I guess Carsten finds us an unlucrative solution, and I get that. He only made 22 round bales off our field last year, and had to go hunting down small bales for us, and actually pay for them, cuz his small baler machine is broken. So my idea is, screw Carsten, I'll buy hay elsewhere from someone reliable. He can pay us 100E a year to make hay here. (Actually, it helps us a lot that he makes hay here, simply cuz he fertilizes, drags, reseeds, and grooms our field so it's beautiful year round. If he did not make hay here, we'd have to pay some farmer to come drag the field, and mow the roughs. It wouldn't be as pretty.) But my man says that Carsten wants to deal. He wants to figure out how much he has to pay to bring us small bales, and deduct what he earns from our field, and charge us the difference. ** There simply must be money paid for hay, because getting it for free put us in a position where we were trapped into being the last priority in his life. I'd rather pay the money and some say in the matter. I don't know what's gonna happen. I have to rely on my man to communicate with both Carsten and our fish guy, cuz they don't communicate with me in a way I can fully understand. But right now we have some lovely first and second cutting that my equines are thrilled to have. It's a joy to feed again.
(PS The photo is gimped for sharpness, I wanted to see the sky/grass in Baasha's eye more clearly.)


Kitty Bo said...

A barn full of good, fresh hay, is one of the best feelings in the world. I am now horseless, but every time I see a load of good hay going by, I want to follow them and ask, "Where did you get that?"

CG said...

Thankfully you got some good hay at last! Todd and I spent a good part of the day yesterday hauling and stacking 3 tons of Eastern hay and I devoted a blog post to it too! I've actually gone back in the barn this morning just to bask in the splendor:)

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

The whole arrangement sounds very . . . complicated. I'm with you, money needs to change hands, or something needs to change to simplify things. Constantly worrying about running out of hay would be stressful!!

Unknown said...

I often joke that hay is my drug of choice. That is, I'm always obsessed with how much I have, what kind I'm getting next, when, and that it happen ON TIME with no possible delays!! After moving to a new area 4 1/2 yrs ago I went through running out of hay, paying $22 bale for hay all winter, buying a few bales at a time every few days coz it's all I could move, getting horrible hay delivered etc. Last year and only through a friend's pleading as a loyal client, I FINALLY got "In" with an old time local hay grower and now get affordable, quality hay delivered and stacked in larger quantities with just a phone call or two. It's AWESOME. I am SORRY for your trials and tribulations with getting your hay fix ;) I very much hope you find a good and reliable source soon.

Cactus Jack Splash said...

And I was thinking the guy who flaked out on me this weekend was a problem...nothing near as complicated as what you go through

EvenSong said...

I am blessed with my barter arrangement: I drive baler for 3 weeks in the summer and Hank fills up my barn. Doesn't matter if I have three horses or eight, he gives me enough to get through the winter, stacked in the barn (designed for the harrowbed to drop it right there). I get the stuff that's not quite good enough for export, but they make sure I don't get anything bad (that goes to their beef cattle). And this year, with a couple of boarders, I'm actually realizing a bit of cash for my efforts.
I think you're right: get cash from Carsten for what he takes off your land, and find a reliable dealer that you can trust to give you good quality hay, when you need it.
Hope it works out!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hay is gold here in New Mexico. We have to feed hay all year as there is no grass to sustain equines in the high desert mountains. If I don't have hay, my animals don't eat. Period.
I am always so envious of folks who are able to get away with just letting their equines out to pasture where they have fields of lush green grass (my mare would think she was at equine Disney World! lol!).

We are always at the mercy of hay growers and feed stores to get hay, and it can often be expensive.
Last Spring I started feeding my mare Wheat Hay as it's much like alfalfa with the protein, but without the extra sugars and "heat" that alfalfa has.
I've been able to find Wheat Hay in small 2 string bales until the end of the summer. But now all I can find are half ton bales (3x3x8).
It is more cost efficient to get these bales, but they don't fit in my truck, so I have to borrow a flat-bed trailer, and then have help to slide it off the trailer, and the break apart the bales into sheets, so I can fit them inside my barn. ugh!
I wonder if most hay farmers are now moving into selling only the large half-ton bales? They can make more money and fit them in a ship easier to sell them to China.

I hope your hay situation works out well for you very soon.


Unknown said...

I totally understand. Because of the drought I had to buy hay for the first time in my life. I drove over an hour to get it and aid 5$ a bale and drove home in the dark with no lights on the trailer because no one was at the farm when I got there and I didn't know where the hay was. I found out a few bales into the hay when I got home it was likely baled off of CRP land that hadn't been touched in many years. There has been a lot of twigs and really thick stemmed crap in it and yesterday I found a whole darn thorn bush in the feeder and suffered a good half hour of plucking small thorns out of my hands. Grrrr, so much for "good" hay. I wish the guy would have said it was off of CRP ground and has some twigs and junk in it. At least the horses eat *most* of it.

AareneX said...

There is no such thing as too much hay. We know this.

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

In regards to the moxidectin, I use it on my own horses once a year (I usually do Quest Plus in the spring and Equimax in the fall and that is all my personal horses need according to fecals). I don't use it on the farm as a whole though. If I feel someone needs a strong deworming I do a PowerPak instead of Quest. If Baasha has a good, solid de-worming history and never had any issues then I would be comfortable using it on him. I don't know the entire (if any) actual de-worming history on most of the residents so I don't use Quest farm-wide.

Achieve1dream said...

Grrr!! I would be so mad at that man! Even if he had to pay for it that was cruel of him to leave your horses without hay. I hope you guys can work something out with him!

The Equestrian Vagabond said...

I'm pretty sure bad hay gave at least one of our horses COPD. : (
anyway, being in control of your own hay, good hay, when you need it, would bring you great peace of mind. Good hay and good service is worth paying for!
- The Equestrian Vagabond

White Horse Pilgrim said...

We feed hay from large bales that the farmer makes on this land. Could you find a way to store some round bales under cover and use each one bit by bit?

Unknown said...

I spent an hour talking to another horse friend about hay. Only horse people understand.

I'm not sure I understand how the farmer can be so irresponsible given that he gets hay from your very field. It would seem like you'd get first choice, sort of like a litter of puppies.

arg. I hope you get a more reliable source soon.