Monday, July 06, 2009

Hay, Happy 4th, Belated

Happy 4th to everyone. I'm a bit behind. My Independence Day activities included helping to unload 20 bales of hay and trim the horrendous flare off of my horse's front hooves.

In the interest of saving on farrier costs (since my AANHCP trimmer lives on the eastern side of the state and has to travel, and there are no AANHCP trimmers closer to me yet), I'm doing it myself for now. I sort of know how—in 2006, I was considering becoming one myself, and I took two clinics that year, one of which was an INTENSE two-day study of the anatomy of hooves, trimming them, mistakes, diseases, etc and included up-close viewings of cadaver hooves. Yes. The preserved hooves of dead horses. I thought I'd be grossed out, but I found it so fascinating I forgot to think about what I was holding in my hand.

Anyway, I learned just enough to be "dangerous", and before putting everything on hold because of the parental illness situation, I'd also invested $600 in trimming equipment, so... might as well use it. My interest in becoming one is renewed, too. It might be a good stepping stone on the way to PNH. It's a practical skill, after all.

Sunday, I assisted the barn manager with putting up a bigger load of hay. Twenty bales were nothing compared to yesterday. The entire load was 400 bales. It took the hay man three trips to deliver it all. We got 2/3 of that put up before the BM had to go to work. (No rain for the next few days—the last load can sit outside and be OK).

Putting up hay means one person stands in the hay loft and stacks the hay; another person stands at the bottom and loads the bales onto the hay escalator thingie that transports the bales from ground to the second story loft.

(photo: Legendary Farms)

I was the loader. Keep in mind I am out of shape, overweight, and each bale weighs 50-80 pounds. Times 266 (approximately 2/3 of the load). Can you say "ow". I will recommend hay loading to anyone who wants full-body conditioning. It worked my abs, my biceps, my squat muscles, my knees... ALL of it.

The interesting thing is, I'm not complaining. I actually LIKED doing this. (In 100-degree heat or 20 below wind chills, I might feel differently.) I also actually liked trimming my horse's feet (which involves standing in a bent-over semi-squat the majority of the time). I feel a good sort of exhaustion today.

The most interesting thing is the hay delivery truck. The hay man pulled this contraption with a big tractor. The contraption is a stacker. What an invention! All the bales are stacked on a flat bed, with a huge rake at either end. The bed raises like a drawbridge and lowers itself so one of the rake edges touches the ground. The bales are stacked two stories high, held in place by the top rake. Then, these arms that look like battering rams push against the stack while the drawbridge/flatbed thing with the rakes pulls away from the stack.

The hay man then retracted the battering ram arms. (If he set it up just right against the barn wall, the stacks stayed put; sometimes, they'd fall down, which we wanted anyway because it's safer than to try to pull them down with a rake.) Then, the drawbridge tilted back flat, and the front rake shot forward. It was wicked cool to watch.

I was curious, so I asked the hay man about the equipment, and found out it was originally developed in the West, in Montana and the states where the ratio of cattle to people is much higher. Not a lot of helping hands around, so they created a device to stack the hay and unload it. Pretty cool.

Here's a picture of one—found on the internet:

(photo: New Holland Agriculture)

I learned about the hay process, too, how it is baled. It's all so fascinating to me. And yes, I thought his tractor was sexy. ;-)



At 7:22 PM, July 06, 2009, Anonymous Carrie K said...

That'd make a catchy Country song. ;)

What I like is seeing all the decorated hay bales. Cracked me up driving East.

Sounds like an interesting fourth!


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