There is a saying around here that summer starts on the 4th of July. It’s pretty much true – which is probably why it is a common saying. Anyway, summer on a cattle ranch means hay season and there is a small window of opportunity to get it cut, baled, hauled and stacked in the barn and it usually happens after the 4th of July.
Loading and stacking hay is hard work. Last year this was our method for unloading the trailer and stacking the hay in the barn. A lot of manual labor and very time-consuming.
This year we have a new piece of equipment and it is so nice to have! It picks up and moves eight bales of hay at a time.
It is called a bale handler and it runs off the hydraulics from the tractor. Rick says he really likes the bale handler except for the awful color. He is of the opinion that every implement should be John Deere green – just like his tractor.
The bale handler has saved the guys a lot of work this year. We need more hay than last year – about 1,600 bales total to feed our cattle through the winter.
Loading and stacking eight at a time has been a real time saver too – not to mention saving our backs.
The hay stack is nine bales high in the pole barn.
Our pole barn was not designed to store hay, so there are a few obstacles to maneuver around. It helps to have Alex spotting for Rick as he navigates the very tight spaces.
In the hay season – as with a lot of other things on a ranch – you work until the job gets done, however long that may take. Sometimes it is very late and quite dark by the time they are unloading the last load of the day.
Then they do the same routine, unloading, moving and stacking, but in the dark by the light of the tractor headlights.
Alex spots for Rick and row by row the haystack grows.
There is so much hay in the pole barn that we only have a narrow little opening left to get ourselves in the door.
We still have more hay to haul, but we are over half way finished. It is a very nice feeling to know we will have plenty of hay stored for cattle feed this winter.