The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Community => Coffee Lounge => Topic started by: Fleecewife on July 28, 2020, 12:45:43 pm

Title: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Fleecewife on July 28, 2020, 12:45:43 pm
When we had a late winter/early summer drought, I knew it would be wet for haymaking which up here for us usually happens in July, one cut.  Most years we manage to get some sort of harvest in - I can only remember one year we failed and that was before we had our own hay making equipment.
This year, it has rained and rained and rained here in southern Scotland, especially on our hill, even when there's been sunshine around. If the ground is dry enough to get machinery on then we might cut it today or tomorrow and risk that it will get rained on a few times before we get it dry, or it's lost.
Others around cut and wrap but we don't have the facilities to handle big bales and have never used silage or haylage.


Has there been a reasonable hay crop elsewhere in the country?  I can see that we will be in the market for 100 or so small square bales of good hay  :farmer:
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Rupert the bear on July 28, 2020, 04:16:33 pm
Yes , eventually , got rained on once during turning, but baled green and dry.
Very good for Aberdeenshire
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Fleecewife on July 28, 2020, 07:29:13 pm
That's great RtB.  I think Aberdeenshire is generally drier than we are, being in the rain shadow of the Grampians.  We are not protected by much from any direction here so we either get the worst or the best of weather, no telling which.
We went ahead and cut the fields today, thinking it's our last chance.  It's a heavy crop for us, as we don't use any fertiliser, just what the sheep and clover provide, so we are desperate for it to make well.  There are at least two days of rain forecast between now and when we could possibly bale so if there are many more than that then the result will be bad. I sit on the fence where optimism is concerned - I expect the worst out loud, but secretly I hope for a nice surprise  ;D
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: oor wullie on July 28, 2020, 10:26:29 pm
We baled last Saturday and were lucky to make fairly decent hay.
It was tipping it down 2 miles away when we were baling but we stayed dry, most of July was like that and I reckon all hay made  in the Highlands this month will have gotten wet at some point.

It is pretty obvious why most people have switched to silage - so much less stress.
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Scarlet.Dragon on July 28, 2020, 11:12:25 pm
Mine's still awaiting being cut, but there's time yet.  I've seen us make good hay as late as September after a wet summer... one of the local farmers reckons it doesn't make good hay unless it's seen a touch of frost... but I think he's confusing hay with brassicas!!!
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: silkwoodzwartbles on July 29, 2020, 08:13:45 am
We made ours during the May heatwave (we're in Gloucestershire) and it's glorious hay but a tiny yield compared to previous years (176 rather than the usual 700 ish bales!) Luckily it should see our sheep through winter, but we haven't enough to sell any this year.
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Fleecewife on July 29, 2020, 12:38:19 pm
We baled last Saturday and were lucky to make fairly decent hay.
It was tipping it down 2 miles away when we were baling but we stayed dry, most of July was like that and I reckon all hay made  in the Highlands this month will have gotten wet at some point.

It is pretty obvious why most people have switched to silage - so much less stress.

Ha, that's haymaking in Scotland isn't it!  Racing against the sky.  We are the only folk round about who still make hay and the polythene industry has benefitted from the change, but not the environment.
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Fleecewife on July 29, 2020, 12:42:36 pm
Mine's still awaiting being cut, but there's time yet.  I've seen us make good hay as late as September after a wet summer... one of the local farmers reckons it doesn't make good hay unless it's seen a touch of frost... but I think he's confusing hay with brassicas!!!

 ;D .  That's interesting!  We have not made hay later than August but one year a neighbour baled his a bit before Christmas it was that wet a summer and autumn - the hay was rubbish by then.  I suppose if you get an Indian summer then September might be hot enough to crisp the hay, but we've not had one yet in 25 years!  :fc: for your crop, and mine  :farmer:
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Fleecewife on July 29, 2020, 12:50:38 pm
We made ours during the May heatwave (we're in Gloucestershire) and it's glorious hay but a tiny yield compared to previous years (176 rather than the usual 700 ish bales!) Luckily it should see our sheep through winter, but we haven't enough to sell any this year.

That's so different - our grass had barely begun to grow in May and the sheep ate every blade as it came through.  Would you be able to get a second crop?

I have been wondering how they make hay further north than Britain.  I have seen it hung onto A frames with 'hankies' on the top and over long fences to wind dry off the ground, but I don't know if it gets turned while on there, and at what stage it's taken in to store. I wonder how long it takes to make using that method and what quality it is?
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: silkwoodzwartbles on July 29, 2020, 08:27:33 pm
Ours was plenty long enough but not as thick as it would have been had we waited til June but given how dry April, May and June were, I'm not sure we'd have had enough extra off it to justify the stress of trying to get it done before the weather broke. We probably could take a second cut but we shan't as we don't need to, to feed our stock. We'd only be doing it to sell but by the time we'd paid contractors to cut and bale it (my hubby turns it and rows it up) we'd probably just break even so not worth doing.
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Buttermilk on July 30, 2020, 10:20:01 am
35 large rounds from an area that yielded 65 last year.  We get our hay wrapped even though it is dry enough to go without.
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Fleecewife on July 30, 2020, 12:20:23 pm
35 large rounds from an area that yielded 65 last year.  We get our hay wrapped even though it is dry enough to go without.

Where abouts are you Buttermilk?  As a matter of interest, why do you get it wrapped?  Is it that you don't have undercover storage space?  The only people we know who can wrap the small bales we have are on Mull which is a day's travel away  :o  I've never seen small bales wrapped locally - it would be worthwhile if there was someone, but not worth us investing in the necessary equipment, and we can't handle big bales.  Most years we get our hay crop made and stored ourselves and feed it as small bales in hay hecks in the fields.
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Buttermilk on July 30, 2020, 08:41:05 pm
We live in Yorkshire.  There is undercover storage but the people I sell my surplus to do not have any.  The bales do not get covered in cat/rat wee and there is no wastage.  The wrapper our contractor came with this year will wrap any size and shape from small conventional, triangular misshaped big rounds up to large quadrant bales.

Wrapped small bales are not easy to handle as there is nowhere to grab and they slip.
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: SallyintNorth on July 30, 2020, 09:51:45 pm
We had to wrap our crop last year.  The bales are very fragile when just made, so the system is to put the wrapping machine right next to where you will store the bales, bring the small bales from the field to the wrapper and stack the wrapped bales carefully.  They blow up and become quite puffy then that shrinks and the wrap clings.  They are cured after about 6 weeks and can be safely handled then. 

We need the long-armed ones to do the stacking of the newly-wrapped bales, short-ar$es like me can't keep a hold of them safely.  Once they are cured, I can move them around by rolling, but I make sure I don't roll them over anything sharp as you still don't want to pierce the wrapping.  If rolling won't work I use a wheelbarrow.
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Fleecewife on August 09, 2020, 08:19:16 pm
Got it  :farmer:   :relief:   12 days in the making because of several soakings, and pretty rubbishy compared to the best lovely green sweet smelling stuff we have managed once or twice.  It smells OK and is plain brown not green, but it's ours and we love it  ::)   It will be be fine for our Hebs, with the addition of some extra Tup+Lamb mix - as our lovely neighbour says: 'it'll fill their bellies'.  Our eldest grandson came over to help and had it all carted and stacked as fast as our ancient wee square baler could plop out the bales (no time to let the bales cool before stacking).  He's the best grandson we could ever wish for.
The weather from now on is forecast to be thunder storms and rain so we got it in by the skin of our teeth  ;D  It wouldn't be haymaking in Scotland if it had been easy  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: SallyintNorth on August 09, 2020, 09:02:10 pm
Well done!!
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Buttermilk on August 10, 2020, 06:40:33 pm
It is always a relief to get it into the barn.
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: twizzel on August 10, 2020, 07:38:37 pm
We have about 120 small bales made, the sheep have eaten a couple and definitely approve. Still got 6 acres to cut but can be hay or haylage or silage so not too worried as long as it’s cut before winter.
Title: Re: Has anyone got a successful hay crop in this year?
Post by: Scarlet.Dragon on August 10, 2020, 10:47:54 pm
That's mine baled today; was cut on 29th July and left in bouts for the rain that followed before being spread a couple of days ago to dry.  Flipped a couple of times over the last couple of days and looking good.  Fingers crossed it cures over the next few months and will be good to feed by new year!