Hay There (Click image for large view)
Along with the first snow we’ve been receiving our winter hay for the coming cold season. The snow was not appreciated but the winter hay is good to get in. Soon the truck will have difficulty getting up the mountain to us as the roads soften up in preparation for their making deep ruts that will freeze hard.
Also on the road landing are three truck loads of sand mixed with Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) in the insulated bunker of hay bales. The CMA is an environmentally friendly alternative to salt which won’t hurt plants, won’t kill pigs and won’t rust steel or damage concrete. This is our third year of using it and I’m very pleased with it.
The bunker of hay bales around the sand pile keep the sand warmer and prevent it from spreading sideways. Those bales will be some of the last ones we use once we no longer need their bunker properties in the spring. The sand pile is also tarped on top of insulation bags (bags of bale wrap) to keep water out of the sand.
At the south end of the pile towards the right of the picture is the bunker for the wood chips. Pigs eat trees. Yes, really! They favor the twigs of deciduous and will eat evergreens too. But that is not why we get wood chips. The edible bits are incidental. Most of wood chips are large chips which make a good base for the deep bedding packs in our sheds. These compost over the winter providing heat coming up to the pigs bellies. The large chips drain well and are easy to shovel out with the bucket loader when the time comes. Those then go into the compost pile and eventually onto our gardens and orchards.
The orange tractor is not ours but rather a loaner with opposable thumbs, that is to say a bale grabber on the front. This gem makes it easy to move and stack bales. Normally we move bales with a bucket and chain or the pallet forks. I would love to have opposable thumbs but it seems like just one more piece of equipment to be swapping thus so far I’ve resisted the urge to buy more big iron.
Most of the hay goes out into the fields now where it will get used over the winter. Some we’ll keep stored on the landing since predicting usage is not 100% accurate and I buy extra hay beyond what I know we’ll need.
On the other side of the tractor you can see Ben’s stone carving workshop. He has a very solid split level bench anchored to the old maple tree stump. The bench is strong enough that he can put 500 lb slabs of granite up on it to cut, carve and grind them without having to hunch over on the ground. This is where he cut the sills for our butcher shop.[1, 2, 3] Leaning up against the bench is the inspector’s granite desk top which will go in the USDA’s office next spring.
This year we got 270 round bales between 800 and 1,000 lbs each. That’s about 243,000 lbs of hay or about 120 tons. I figure that each feeder pig eats about 400 lbs of hay a winter and the breeders eat about 1,200 lbs or more depending on age. Bigger pigs have bigger jaws, bigger teeth and longer digestive systems making them more capable of eating fiber food stuffs like pasture and hay. Hay is our winter canned pasture just like we can stews, soups and such for our family to eat over the winter.
It is always a big relief to get in the winter hay, chips, sand and other necessities to get through the coming cold season.
Outdoors: 36°F/28°F Partly Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 60°F/57°F
Daily Spark: The vegetarian strategy is to out breed the hardship. The omnivore and carnivore strategy is to eat vegetarians.