Sunday, January 23, 2011

I'm Covered

...in horse manure.  Every day for the past few days I've been hanging the horses' muddy, poopy blankets on the fence with the intention of hosing them off, scrubbing them with detergent, and rinsing, but every day something else came up so that I didn't have time to do the job.  This is what they looked like after their first rinsing...

 I decided to spare you from seeing their condition before the rinse.  As usual, the universe repaid me for my kindness by splattering the caked on manure all over my face and clothes.  Thankfully, I had my mouth closed.  This is what they looked like after I scrubbed and rinsed, scrubbed and rinsed for about two hours straight...

I'm also due for another block of hay, which is disappointing to me, because I really, really, really wanted to make it until March before having to dole out $1,300 or whatever my hay farmer is charging at the moment.    We need time to recover from paying several thousand dollars for college tuition.

Because the winds ripped my brand new tarp, water got into the hay, and because I didn't catch it immediately and remove the tarp to air out the hay, there was mold everywhere.  I had to throw out several bales of hay, and there were webs of white mold stretched across the wooden palettes that the hay sits on.  I cleaned out half of them, but the wood was so rotted that some of the palettes just fell apart.

Once I cleaned out the palettes, I raked all the dregs and mold out from underneath them and let the ground dry out.  If I place more hay on wet wooden palettes over wet ground, that hay will just mold too.

It really pays to have some kind of shelter such as a hay loft.  I'm thinking that if this winter is going to continue to be as wet as it has been, I might be better off buying just a few bales at a time.  The problem is that my son and husband always have some kind of injury that prevents them from being able to lift the bales in and out of the truck, and I am just not strong enough to do it.  It's so much easier to have a farmer deliver a block with a harrow.

Regarding tarps, I've learned that it is possible to have too much tarp.  Over the years, I keep buying bigger and bigger tarps, but once the hay stack starts shrinking, the edges of the tarp lie on the ground where snow and ice collect.  Then a big wind comes up and blows between the tarp and the hay, but because the edges of the tarp are frozen to the ground, the only way the tarp can relieve pressure is to rip.

Also, you don't want to cover your entire haystack with a tarp.  You want air to circulate through the haystack, but have enough tarp over the top and part of the sides to prevent rain and snow from getting in.  Once the haystack starts shrinking, double up the tarp so that the sides aren't completely covered.

Take it from someone who has been burned by this problem one too many times.

13 comments:

fernvalley01 said...

Tarps are a pain .We try when we tarp hay (not often anymore) to weight the tarp ends with old tires but also put a post unter to angle the tarp away from the hay and keep air circulating.Its not perfect ,but it helps.The only problem I am thinking is your propety is not large our way might take up too much space .Hope winter stops kicking us all in the butt

sue said...

would it help to buy one of those "garage in a box" items that they sell at Tractor Supply.. basically it's a "tent" I guess, but it's better than that.. we have one to store our wood in and overall it works pretty well.. also it's "moveable" so, if you don't like it in one place, it could be moved to another spot... I don't think they are that expensive, certainly cheaper than ruined hay... best wishes...

achieve1dream said...

Yeah storing hay is a pain in the butt. I'm so grateful that our new lease land has a loft in an old barn so we can now store it there. It's so nice after struggling for so long to store hay. I'm glad you've found a system that works for you though. :)

Jame said...

Thank you for the compliment on my picture :) That cat is Barley, brought in last year to keep the mice out of the barn, & he's quite good at his job.
I hesitate to suggest this, because you've probably already thought of this, so I apologize if you have. Instead of tarps, have you looked at those portable car garages, like this one: http://www.sheltersofamerica.com/productdetails.php?productid=745&id=1.
I've seen them for sale on craigslist in our area for around 300$, which is more expensive than tarps but might be easier to manage than a bunch of tarps.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I will keep the tarp info in mind for next winter. I hope to have quite a few squares off of our hay field.

Reddunappy said...

Up here in SW Washington we wouldnt dare be able store our hay outside at all!! To much rain, the rain year is counted from Oct. so far we have had 6" of rain! And the East wind shreds tarps really fast. I am glad to have a 12x12 area in the barn to store my hay. We built a 24x36 barn with 3 stalls and a 12'breazeway in the center, the first 12x12 area on the left is the hay area, then a stall on the back and two stalls on the right. They all have access to outside too, via runs and outside doors. I really appreciate my barn!!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Sounds like a nightmare...and an expensive one at that.
Last winter when John was driving a truck and was only home for maybe a day, just once a month, I had two local tack stores deliver hay to me, instead of me having to haul it in my van.
I can carry 2 three-string bales, or 3 two-string bales, but they will only last me about a week.
The llamas and goats go through one bale and the horse goes through another.

One tack/feed store delivers to us for free if I order at least 10 bales, and the other one will deliver for a $10 straight delivery fee no matter how many bales I buy.
Both feed stores are within 5 miles of my house.

We can store up to 100 bales of hay in our barn, but with lower wages from John's job, we buy hay all year long, instead of stocking up during the summer. We refuse to take out a loan just to purchase hay, and we've never had any problems being able to buy good quality hay all year round. Even if it does cost a couple dollars more per bale during winter, for us it's still better than taking out loans or emptying the bank account to stock pile hay during the summer.

You did a great job cleaning those filthy blankets. I'm grateful that we've not had to blanket this winter. Without any rain or any wet snow combined with freezing temps, blankets just haven't been necessary.
Sure could use some moisture soon, though. It's so dry!

~Lisa

Dreaming said...

Thanks for the insight about the size of tarp to use. I would have gone for a big one as well, and wouldn't have thought about the shrinking pile.
I hate it when I get bales I can't use. I haven't had mold (knock on wood) but I've had some bales with thistle or nettle. How did you dispose of your moldy hay? That's always been my issue - I don't know what to do with the stuff I can't use.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Dreaming - This is awful, but we just throw the moldy hay out somewhere on our lot where the horses don't go. I've worried that deer will try to eat it an get sick, but it turns out that both horses and deer turn their noses up at moldy hay. It takes years to break down, but it does break down. It also prevents weeds from growing in the location where we throw it, and we have such noxious weeds that I'd choose the moldy hay over them any day.

Crystal said...

Those blankets look amazingly cleaner.
We are lucky I guess that its cold all winter and the snow cant melt into our bales and mold (at least till spring). So many different things I am learning about living on a small acerage I never even think of.

Rebecca said...

I tried one of those garages in a box once, the wind got the best of me, but if you can really anchor it down, it really works and saves you from moldy hay. I also had to learn that sometimes tarps around completely waterproof, grrr lost the whole top of the stack that time. I ended up just turning one of my box stalls into a feed room. I can keep about 50 bales at a time but I generally only keep around 30 because I can't stack them that high!

Oh, loved your comment about keeping your mouth closed. I was having the same thought yesterday when I was mucking into the back of the truck (shoulder height) and the wind was blowing. Why is the wind ALWAYS blowing in the direction of my face when I am mucking!?? :o)

Rising Rainbow said...

I have a blanket I need to clean in that fashion. Thanks for the heads up about keeping my mouth closed. I'm sure I would have learned that the hard way. LOL

You're so right about tarps being too big sometimes. That flapping around in the wind thing is tough on them.

Linda said...

I know how you feel--I've been there with the tarps and I've been there (am there) with the tuition--and with having to buy more and more hay. I thought my round bales were going to last me to the end of February, but they're only going to last until the end of January! So, I'm going through round bales at double the pace I thought I would. We're putting ours in the breezeway of the barn nowadays because we had spoilage before from bad tarping. But now I don't have a breezeway. Can't wait for spring!