Monday, April 13, 2009

Making Hay

Well, Cowboy is back to normal--acting up and eating ferociously. So, back to the normal blog--about making hay.

This Easter weekend we spent our time discing ours and our neighbor's land--a group effort between all of us to replant our fields which had gone to weed--Yellow Tumble Mustard, to be exact.

Originally, our property and all of our neighbor's properties, were part of one large Dairy Farm. All of our fields were planted in alfalfa and irrigated.

However, the owner was getting old and he gambled a lot. A new casino opened up about a mile away where he began to spend a lot of time, eventually going in hock about 16 million dollars and having to parcel off everything he owned.

The original owners of our home, purchased the acreage during that time--and paid extra for "water rights". Water rights in Spokane County are a mixed bag. I believe water rights are determined on a first come basis--the date they were originally acquired. Also, you have five years after the last year of irrigation to maintain them by keeping up on the irrigation. It could also be that you have to water from a farm well rather than the house well--but that has been debated.

Needless to say, throughout these last five years or so, the land has not been maintained, and so has gone to weed. We're the only ones in this general area who have horses, but our neighbors are interested in growing hay as part of a "weed control" program. They're willing to plant their fields and let us harvest the hay. Yay!

This is the first time we've actually planted hay--so this is quite a learning experience. We're planting a drought tolerant (if there is such a thing) blend with Fescue, Orchard Grass and Alfalfa, and I'm not sure what else--because our neighbor is the one who chose the seed and then picked it up today from some farmers in Rearden. $2.00/pound--500 pounds for 20 acres.

Right now we're in waiting mode as we try to locate a seeding implement that basically pushes it into the ground and then comes behind and rolls it. The men were originally going to broadcast it, but are skeptical that would work with all the wind.

Does anyone know anything about baling options? For example, what is the going rate to have someone come in and cut and bale it when it's ready to be harvested?

Here are some pictures of the weekend.

42, the cat, checks it all out.

The fields after discing.


  1. Our neighbor cuts & bales our hay on a 50/50 split. He gets 50% of the hay and we get 50%. I know of another guy who used to do it for $50 a ton, but that was a couple years ago and hay & fuel prices have gone up since then, so that's probably not a realistic price now.

    We're hoping to talk the neighbors into doing the hay for pay this year so we can keep it all. That might just get us through the whole winter.

  2. I wish I knew more about hay so I could help you out. All I know is that my horses go through it faster than I can pay for it!!

    Thanks again for stopping by my blog today.

  3. How nice to be bringing the land back to good health again. What a learning experience for you, I give you much credit for the challenges and adventures you've welcomed into your life! Just love 42's serious attention to matters there too!

  4. Andrea--thank you--that gives me a very good idea of what to expect!

    Jessie--my horses go through it, too--that's why I'm hoping we can grow it ourselves and, eventually, save some money! Wish us luck.

    Joanne--It is an adventure--and 42 keeps me entertained through it all! She's an unusual cat!

  5. Andrea, my cousin's wife's family used to live in Thermal, CA and the dad grew his own alfalfa for his cows. He is in a rest home now and doesn't live on the ranch any longer, but I did notice the tenant planted SOMETHING in the fields...I'll have to drive by and take a look! Interesting post!

  6. Linda, I'm about to vac my horses...thanks for the "heads up". They've never had a reaction, but you never know!

  7. Love the kitty picture!
    Hope you had a Happy Easter:)

  8. Wish I had enough land to be making hay! As it is, I'm looking out your way for someone to sell it to me. In my dream world, I'll end up saving $10 after driving over and back :)


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.