Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?  (Read 7103 times)

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« on: August 21, 2023, 11:34:17 pm »
Through a mixture of me being in and out of hospital this year and the weather being unsympathetic to haymaking, our crop is still lying sodden in the field a week away from the end of August. This will be only the second time in almost 30 years that we have not cropped our hay to feed our sheep.  It doesn't really matter this year as we will not be lambing them next spring, so our supplies of last year's hay plus Willow branches will probably be enough, unless it's a particularly severe winter  (plus a few judicious sales).


Is anyone else in the same boat?  I'm wondering what you do with the fallen grass?  One year our neighbour cut his to 'tidy up' between Christmas and New Year  :D .  I wondered if our Superpowered Hebrideans would manage to eat it off or would it be safer to cut and compost it because of the length?
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
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Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2023, 07:46:45 am »
Nobody has been able to make any here this year ....  it has rained every 2 days since end June .... and grass didnt start growing till July!   

My few cows are getting fatter and fatter!
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

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Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2023, 08:24:52 am »
Nobody has been able to make any here this year ....  it has rained every 2 days since end June .... and grass didnt start growing till July!   

My few cows are getting fatter and fatter!
Oh well, they'll get thinner and thinner over winter  :o :innocent:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2023, 10:09:36 am »
For once we got the biggest hay field shut up earlier, and were ready to make hay in June.  But the combination of weather and our contractor didn't happen.  By the time he had some space in his schedule, the rains had started, and now the crop is as thick as I've ever seen it here, the ground is moist and soft underneath it, so it'll take at least 3 probably 4 dry days to make hay.  (Usually it's quite a thin crop and we can often get it baled - small bales - on the second day.)  We had a 2-day window in the weather recently, but the contractor said that small bale haylage wasn't an option either, as with only 2 days drying, the bales would still be too heavy for his baler. 

So I am definitely feeling that I don't want to shut up the biggest hay field early again!  (I shall go back to lambing in there, and I lamb second half of April, so the field doesn't then get shut up until well into May.)

We've made small bale hay here in September before, but that was with a much thinner crop, so we will be lucky to get any hay this year now.  However, I remember one year we managed to make small bale hay in September up on Hadrian's Wall, so I shan't completely give up hope yet!  Also, we could make big round bale hay if we had to, which can be baled a bit damper and left to air in the field if necessary.  (We can just about manage to use big round bales of hay, although it's a faff, but we don't have enough stock to get through a big round bale of haylage before it goes off - plus we don't feed haylage in the fields as it destroys the soil structure.)

I am fairly confident we should still get some small bale haylage from the smaller field, which was shut up later (expecting to be a second crop, but we've not managed a first crop yet...)  So hopefully we'll get the haylage we need for the cattle (who we house over winter.)  But I am ruefully expecting to be keeping the bigger hay field as winter forage for the sheep, and buying in hay for the ponies and some for the sheep when they need a bit extra towards the end of winter.   Thankfully there's a local farmer makes rough old untreated hay which is perfect for the ponies, and the sheep will eat when they need it - and the farmer always has hay if we need it, he's been a godsend many times!  He charges a sensible price too.  But it's going to be galling buying in poorer hay for more money than it would have cost to make our own, when we should've had more than plenty of our own...

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Forestlens

  • Joined Jul 2020
  • North Devon
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2023, 10:38:15 am »
Weíre still using up 3-yo hay from our first summer here! Just as well as hay harvest has been disastrous so far. Apart from an early cut in June haymakers in Devon are struggling and as a result the quantity and quality will suffer and prices will rise! We have a few bales left that will see us through half the winter but fully expecting to pay high later. Unless we have a fantastic autumn, but even then you need twice the time to make hay than in the summer as temperatures fall and dews make drying slower. We made the decision not to make our own hay due to the investment in machinery required. Consequently weíre prepared to pay if we have to. Fortunately horses donít require high nutritional value hay and the sheep live on air!

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2023, 01:46:38 pm »
Ours is on the ground, OH just got back from turning it. Balers are coming tomorrow. It has a lot of 2nd growth and feed value not going to be great but itíll have to do. It looked cracking in the dry spell in June but weíd spread fertiliser on it so couldnít cut  :gloomy:

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2023, 01:54:16 pm »
@Forestiens it's interesting what you say about having taken the decision not to make your own hay because of the cost of equipment.
When we came here nearly 30 years ago, our housewarming present from a brother in law was a rather the worse for wear David Brown tractor, which had been in a crash!  My husband is skilled with mechanics, so we gradually bought lots of last-legs machinery in the local sales and he did them up.  They included a small square baler.  Since then we have learnt how to make hay and how to do it in Scotland where it's a constant battle against the rain and, in our area anyway, there's no such thing as a second cut! All the grotty old machinery has lasted the course apart from a hay bob which had to be replaced a few years ago - with a NEW one  :yippee:


I have noticed that quite a lot of folk on TAS get contractors in to make their hay so I thought that I would mention that it is possible to buy second (5th) hand machinery if you can do the repairs yourself.  Not only does this save money but it ensures that yours is the only crop being cut at the time ie your contractor isn't trying to cut several other peoples' crops that day.  We never thought we would be able to buy a baler but it cost only £500!  Not much spread out over 30 years!
So for people new to smallholding, it is possible to do things yourself, especially if you take the long view.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2023, 02:28:56 pm »
Got mine made 2 weeks ago, about half the yield of last year and the weather window was a few hours too short for the second field so that had to be wrapped.

It's easy to see why most people here wrap, it must save a lot of nerves!

Forestlens

  • Joined Jul 2020
  • North Devon
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2023, 05:46:11 pm »
@Forestiens it's interesting what you say about having taken the decision not to make your own hay because of the cost of equipment.
[member=4333]Fleecewife[/member] cost of equipment is not the only reason. We rarely have more than 6 acres available to make hay and the risk of ending up with a load of rubbish with limited storage facilities is such that we’d rather buy what little we need in and let others take the risk! We don’t like relying on contractors either, I’d hate to be one, especially this year! We’re fortunate that we can keep the animals out all year without them making much mess! So the hay is really just bulk fibre for the horses and the sheep get any duff or dusty bales to eat/ bounce on!
« Last Edit: August 23, 2023, 05:49:39 pm by Forestlens »

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2023, 10:47:43 am »
Nobody has been able to make any here this year ....  it has rained every 2 days since end June .... and grass didnt start growing till July! 



We did!!
Grass grew well this spring and we made hay in mid June when the weather was perfect. Then the intermittent rain and sunshine since has meant the grass has kept growing amazing - even into August when it normally slows right down.
We are in the middle of Yorkshire, so don't have a unique climate. So I can't understand why so many people have been unable to get a hay crop. June hay is the most nutritious. You might get more in July (weather permitting) but it is more stemmy and has lost digestibility. So to me - any time after the end of May if the weather is right then we cut it. As they say - make hay when the sun shines! No good waiting for a heavier crop and good weather in a few weeks because (as this year), it may never happen. 
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2023, 04:03:02 pm »
We are in the middle of Yorkshire, so don't have a unique climate. So I can't understand why so many people have been unable to get a hay crop.

For once we got the biggest hay field shut up earlier, and were ready to make hay in June.  But the combination of weather and our contractor didn't happen.  By the time he had some space in his schedule, the rains had started.

Is why.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2023, 08:13:24 pm »



We are in the middle of Yorkshire, so don't have a unique climate. So I can't understand why so many people have been unable to get a hay crop.


We spread fertiliser in late April/early may which thanks to the drought didnít soak in properly, so when we wanted to cut, we couldnít.


Our hay got wet last night and today, itís a sore subject in our house :rant:

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2023, 02:26:57 pm »
Nobody has been able to make any here this year ....  it has rained every 2 days since end June .... and grass didnt start growing till July! 



We did!!
Grass grew well this spring and we made hay in mid June when the weather was perfect. Then the intermittent rain and sunshine since has meant the grass has kept growing amazing - even into August when it normally slows right down.
We are in the middle of Yorkshire, so don't have a unique climate. So I can't understand why so many people have been unable to get a hay crop. June hay is the most nutritious. You might get more in July (weather permitting) but it is more stemmy and has lost digestibility. So to me - any time after the end of May if the weather is right then we cut it. As they say - make hay when the sun shines! No good waiting for a heavier crop and good weather in a few weeks because (as this year), it may never happen.

Ah yes, I lived in Yorkshire for a while - tropical  :sunshine:  Here, there was NO rain in spring so by June the grass was perhaps 3-4 inches long, so nothing to cut, not just that we wanted to wait for more.  In fact in our part of Scotland we rarely cut hay before late July anyway.  It poured for the rest of the year and there is still no sign in the forecast of more than a dry day or two together.  We're still hopeful  :farmer:


So if we need to buy in hay, Yorkshire's the place to come?
« Last Edit: August 28, 2023, 02:28:28 pm by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2023, 05:27:27 pm »
Nobody has been able to make any here this year ....  it has rained every 2 days since end June .... and grass didnt start growing till July! 



. So I can't understand why so many people have been unable to get a hay crop. June hay is the most nutritious. 

Lucky you!!

We had a spring drought alongside some very cold winds ... there was no grass to graze never mind cut here in June!

Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

http://nantygroes.blogspot.co.uk/
www.nantygroes.co.uk
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KirinChris

  • Joined Apr 2022
  • Bishop Auckland, Durham
Re: Has anyone harvested a hay crop this year?
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2023, 08:04:55 pm »
We could have done it in June but our horses were still on the field and by the time we got their summer field ready (itís our first year here and the place had not been well kept for a while) it was too late.

Their summer field is in a worse state than the winter field ever was !

We have a friendly farmer who was going to do the hay. He took the grass off the summer fields for silage before the horses went on. He came around the other day and was very pessimistic about getting it off now so heíll take it for haylage and will give us hay as he has plenty.

 

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