When we acquired Autumn we decided we’d free feed large round bales because it was the easiest thing to do and Autumn is not a glutton. All we had to do was put a round bale out in the field every two-three weeks and she’d eat without us having to throw out flakes of hay several times per day – tough to do when you work 12 hour shifts.
We purchased the large round bales from our neighbour and farmer down the road. This was our first experience with the high density bales. The high density bales weight about seven hundred and fifty pounds, where the low density bales weight about five hundred and fifty pounds. Obviously the high density bales are, well, denser. Thicker. Harder to puncture.
It was a good cardio workout to manually roll the round bales into the field and it would have been quite manageable if we’d only had to do it every few weeks, but we took in two horses for a brief period of time to help out a friend.
We were now going through a round bale every three days. I didn’t mind the cardio, actually I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t something I could do by myself. I needed help from the heavy equipment.
Brent and his best pal Tim decided they’d build a bale spear to go on the front end loader of the backhoe. Tim is welder, so between the two it should have been easy.
Unfortunately, not much on our make shift farm is easy. The steel rod they used wasn’t sharp enough to pierce the high density bale and, if it did go in it would bend immediately. The spear was warped after it’s first use and never picked up a bale.
It took several weeks, much internet research and a few phone calls until they found the solution. It was suggested that they use an axel off a heavy duty truck as the spear.
Brent and Tim were excited when they made the trip to the local scrap yard in search of their future “bale spear”. They came home with a handful of scrap metal and an axel off a piece of heavy equipment. It took some time to cut off the end with a torch and then grind it down to make it smooth and pointy.
Several days later Tim came by and welded the new holder onto the top of the backhoe front end loader (sorry dad). The new bale spear was ready for use. After a few attempts, some sharpening and refining they managed to pick up a round bale.
The welds held. The spear did not bend. The bale was moved with a combustion engine.
We got the bale spear working three days before the two boarder horses left for their new barn.
Isn’t that always the way?
Now, we move the bales around with the machine simply because we can. Special thanks to my farmer neighbour Steve for the axel idea. It would have cost about $300-$500 for a factory made bale spear or fork and the boys managed to do it for about $40 – not counting time and labour. Thanks Tim!!