HAY! again

I’m not getting along with wordpress very well it seems.  We are not resolving very well incorporating pictures and text.  But we’ll try again.
The previous hay pictures shared show so-called “Big Round Bales” which are mixed alfalfa/grass usually, and mostly in this area of the country are from the first cutting of the field.  First cutting in the midwest is the most growthy, and becomes stemmy and coarse when it cannot be harvested in May, as has been the case in the last two springs, when most people could not get into the fields between rain showers until late June.  I plan to talk about the process of hay making and variations of baling next season.  I know that the process and quality of hay varies quite a bit around this big country.

We carry our round bales on the rear fork attachment of our little tractor, down the lane to one of our two groups of ponies (separated by size to make competition for feed more equal).   The round bales are stored outside by most people, and are wrapped by the hay equipment during the baling process, with plastic netting that helps shed rain/moisture as well as maintain the strength and shape of the bale for transport.  The bottom of the bale setting on the ground does get a layer of decay, but the animals simply avoid eating that part.  Some people “serve” the bale as it sits stored, so that the decayed part stays on the ground, but that can also cause concern depending on the group of animals and how they eat at the bale, because the core of the bale is the sweetest and best preserved, and some groups tend to eat the core first which can leave a shell that will collapse.  So we tip the bales up on end and get all the plastic off at the onset and this seems to work well for us.  It actually helps with the mini horse group to have a taller pony in the 13 hand range, to eat away from the top part and tear it apart for them.  But with about ten ponies chewing on a round bale, it lasts only about a week.  If you had only a couple horses it might not be very efficient to feed a big round bale because the weather could make much of it deteriorate once it was opened, before they could consume it.  With our group of bigger horses/ponies, also about 10 head, they finish off these round bales in just 3-4 days.

In the previous “HAY!” post the pictures showed our stallion, The Executive, in riding training.  I believe this was his 3rd ride, and we were very pleased that he accepted the scarey tractor and big bale monster going by without much fuss, heading on out to ride in the pasture.

HAY!

The winter supply of hay for the ponies is all ready for the winter cold and snow to set in.

Eggciting News

Just wondering how many of my friends buy ‘free range’ eggs? At some points in time when we did not have hens in the barnyard, I have bought them… but i really didn’t see much difference than regular store bought. After enjoying my farm fresh eggs I began wondering what “free range” meant… I figured mine must be free range… they spend most of the day scratching and pecking in the yard… makes sense right? WRONG… the federal guidelines say to be free range they must not be caged… OK that makes sense… and they must each have 1 1/2 sq ft per hen… WHAT??? a hen sitting takes up nearly a square foot on her own… So you put hens in these huge chicken houses, where they can “free range” (and peck on each other which is what confined chickens do, that is why they developed the cage system)… that just doesn’t make sense!!! what is “free” about living in a chicken house with thousands of other chickens??? If you must buy eggs in the store, look for “pasture raised” these hens actually live OUTSIDE…they have grass and bugs to eat and SUNSHINE! Pasture raised hens lay eggs with as much as 6 times the vitamin D compared to “free range” they are lower in fat, and higher in Omega3s… You can literally see the difference in Pasture raised eggs, the yolks are ORANGE, not pale yellow, and the taste and texture are worlds apart. Did you know that the eggs from the store can already be a MONTH old before they hit the shelves???? So if you get the chance, go to your local farmer and try some real farm fresh eggs, you wont believe the difference!