Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 2: Hay is not just for horses

I've given a lot of presentations to community groups in non-farming areas.  I once got interrupted & asked "What is hay?".  I have always said there is no such thing as a stupid question, and this one isn't so I thought I'd try to answer it.
Hay is a feedstock made from a plant of some type (typically alfalfa, but it can also be grass, oats, or other small forages).  It goes through a process that can take up to 4 days depending on how wet the crop is when cut, hence, the saying "make hay while the sun shines".
First, it is cut using a mower that cuts the alfalfa plant down to within a couple inches from the ground:

Then, if it is to be baled, it is allowed to dry for a day or two, and then raked into a pile:

Then, baled into any one of 3 different shapes - small squares (we stopped using these a couple years ago, so I don't have any pictures handy, but picture the small bales of straw - which is the subject of day 3's post - that people have outside their houses as decor right now), large squares, or round bales like this one:
Brent standing on a round bale as a kid

And, fed to animals for food.

We may take as many as 5 cuttings off a single field of alfalfa in any summer, about 3-4 weeks apart as the plant regrows.  Alfalfa is a perennial plant, and so we are able to repeat this for 3-4 years.  The plant will continue to grow for longer, but imagine like your yard - it eventually gets crabgrass and dandelions growing in it, and so we will cultivate the field and plant another crop (usually corn) for at least a year before returning it to alfalfa.

Check out more "30 days" blogs at My Generation.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I encourage you to leave comments, and ask questions to your heart's content. However, please be respectful. I reserve the right to remove derogatory or irrelevant comments.