Winter Hay

It’s late November and there is a thick layer of ice on the horse water, frost on the ground, naked trees and yellow grass. The ducks look fluffy, the pigs look blacker and the horse is starting to look like the Abominable Snowman from Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer. These are signals for winter meaning its time to get the hay in storage and the farm ready to survive the icy onslaught of the deep freeze.

Over the year the hay storage areas turns into various other storage areas for: plywood, insulation, four wheelers, motorcycles, truck, welders and various other tools. When it comes time for the hay storage area to be converted back to the “hay storage area” it often takes us days to re-organize and decide what’s going out into the snow.

We use two outbuildings to store all the round bales that we’ll need till spring when the grass starts to grow and the horse prefers all things green after a harsh winter. Spring seems so far away.

Brent and I started last week loading the truck and trailer full of plywood and insulation to be transported to covered storage in Wainfleet. We moved a few things around, put my tractor under a big silver tarp outside and made room for hay.

Hay must be stored inside or it rots as soon as it gets wet, so we empty one bay of the back garage and use half the horse lean-to for storage. We currently have fifteen round bales in storage with each weighing over five hundred and fifty pounds. One round bale generally lasts Autumn two weeks in the dead of winter with nothing natural to consume.

I buy my hay from Farmer Steve who lives about a kilometer up the road. Steve’s grandfather used to have a pair of Belgian horses he would hook up to a sleigh and take me for rides in the winter. He was one of those cool old farmers. I’m happy that his grandson has taken over the farm. Steve is kind enough to deliver my hay and help me put it away.

This is usually a job that takes three people: one to drive the tractor unloading the round bales from the wagon and two people to push the round bales deeper into the storage where the tractor can’t reach. The leanto storage area has a low ceiling. Brent was working when Steve brought the round bales, so he was on the tractor and I was the sole pusher of bales.

What a work out! I huffed and pushed and groaned as I rolled and flipped the over five hundred pound bales into place. Some bales weight a little more due to moisture content and some a little less. Either way, they’re incredibly heavy. Steven had to help me move one of the heavy round bales and he said after I’d moved two by myself, ” you know, these are really heavy”. I was huffing and puffing so hard I couldn’t get out a response, but I swear I heard him giggle as he walked away.


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