Friday, January 13, 2012

Drought Panic

My husband read an article that because our area still hasn't had any rain or snow this winter, it is expected that there will be a hay shortage this year. There already is a hay shortage because many of our local hay farmers shipped their 2011 crops to Japan at a much higher price than the locals pay. Because our hay farmer did that, we asked if he would save us one block of alfalfa/grass mix just so that we can make it until the first cutting of 2012 without having to starve our horses.

He said he would. We offered to pay him for it in advance in order to protect ourselves from having him jack up the price over the winter, but he promised he would collect our payment later when he delivers the hay at the same price we paid for the first block. We were hesitant and didn't quite believe him since people do desperate things when hay is hard to come by. We were half-expecting someone to offer to buy our block for double the price we were promised, and have the hay farmer give them our stack since they were willing to pay more.

So, when this article came out about the hay shortage and the drought, it claimed there was no hay left in the valley. We freaked out. My husband restacked all our hay to make room for another delivery and told me to call our hay farmer right away to see if he still had our block. I called and left a message, but he did not return my call, which is highly unusual. I got nervous, suspecting that he did sell my block to someone else and was too much of a coward to tell me.

I called a second time and left a message. Several days passed, and he finally returned my call, but of course, he had to call right in the 30-seconds that I stepped outside to get the mail, so I missed him. In the message he said that my stack is at the back of his hay barn and he won't be able to access it until March. All the bales in the front of the barn are either straight grass or straight alfalfa. He said that if I wanted something now, I'd have to settle for some of those bales and mix the grass and alfalfa myself.

I immediately called him back, but he didn't pick up. I left a message saying that I will mix the stuff myself if he's willing to deliver half a block of grass and half a block of alfalfa. I asked him to call me back to discuss it, and he never did. I'm hoping that I can get a block of half and half now, and still get my reserved block of mix after March, because I think the local hay farmers will be lucky to get one crop this year at the rate things are going.

It snowed all last winter, and the hay farmers were still complaining that there wasn't enough moisture for three crops, so with this winter being completely dry, horse owners are probably going to have to find an alternative source of fuel for their horses. I suspect I'll have to invest in one of those portable corrals and let them graze on our front lawn since the pasture is always in such bad shape. I'll also be buying a lot of beet pulp.

I'm getting tired of sitting by the phone for days on end waiting for the hay farmer to return my calls.  I might have to just drive over to his place this weekend and start throwing bales into the bed of my truck myself.  I told him I needed the delivery this week, because the weather is dry, the air is still, and it's a convenient time for me.  I don't have any other appointments this week, while next week I'll be booked up. 

Historically, every time my hay farmer delivers a block to my house, he does it right when a violent stormfront is moving in.  Then we have to wrestle a huge tarp in crazy winds to get it over the haystack to protect the hay before it starts raining or snowing.  We usually don't make it in time and some of the hay gets ruined.  That's why I wanted a delivery while the sky is clear and quiet.  I think if he waits until we have a storm coming in to make the delivery, I'm going to have to cancel.  The block would be better off in his barn until we get dry weather again. 

7 comments: said...

I hope you get your agreed upon allotment. Keep pestering him to honor his agreement.


Fantastyk Voyager said...

Good luck on getting that hay delivery. I see several hay trucks driving on the freeways every day. It's so tempting to hijack one of the trucks to my barn.

fernvalley01 said...

Nice to keep the hay safe and dry till you need it , but I do understand wanting it home sooner so you know you have it . We have had some bad dry years here as well, and I book my hay (that I will be buying ) for the entire year in June .Luckily I have dealt with my guy a long time but still it can be scary .We put up round bales here for most of the stock , but it is always nice to have the squares for the barn and the youngsters

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

We're definitely feeling the hay pinch right now after last's year drought. My usual place to buy hay is now out after I bought his last two bales of Timothy today. And he has no idea when he'll get anymore hay again. I might be able to find some straight alfalfa in New Mexico, but my horse gets too fat on the stuff and it's not good for llamas and goats. I've been told that I should start buying bags of pellets and beet pulp to stretch the hay and then pray we can get some hay crops this Spring. It's pretty scary!


Mikey said...

It's really scary right now and I don't think it's going to get better. Not sure what to do... wish I had acreage to grow my own.

achieve1dream said...

Yikes I hope he brings the hay before a storm moves in. Glad he had some left for you. The hay shortages are scary. Hopefully the weather will straighten out soon.

Mavspecialgirl said...

I feed coastal hay rolls.Have 3 horses and a miniature on a 900lb roll 24/7 last about 10 to 14 days.I feed hay year round not enough grass and pasture.Rolls are $45.00.Hay guy had several calls people wanting to buy whole crop and he turned them down,he prefers to sell to locals only thankfully he has stuck to his word.He did plant winter rye just picked up two rolls this week.Horses love it.Nice fluffy/green/smells good.I have to store about 10 rolls to last until spring and first cut in addition to buying two or three every month.Almost made it with 10 rolls fell short by three weeks had to resort to feeding a complete feed and one roll of peanut hay.Poor mini had diahrea whole time on it,but what do you do?Had to have hay.