Monday, February 9, 2015

Poppin' a Hernia

You may recall that I was so disgusted with the men who delivered my hay last fall that I vowed to never use that company again.  Some of their many indiscretions included throwing the bales and breaking my brand new wooden pallets that I just bought and transported to my place, as well as breaking the strings that kept the hay baled, and taking leaks in my back yard.  To top it all off, the quality of the hay just sucked.

So, when I ran out, I picked up a few bales at a feed store to try them out.  Ever since I started feeding the horses those bales, they've been putting on weight, so I knew they must have some nutritional value.  When I ran out of those bales, I ordered a delivery of the same hay.  It cost a bit more coming from a retailer, but if I could get good quality hay with a hassle-free delivery, I was willing to pay the price.

I was told that I would be the first delivery of the morning, so I stayed home and waited... and waited... and waited.  Afternoon came, and I called them to see what the hold up was.  It turned out that one of the warehouse guys called in sick, so there were only two on duty and they were both running around helping customers at the store.  Ah ha, so that's another downside of ordering from a feed store rather than straight from a farmer or distributor.

I was told they were on their way.  If this were the previous hay supplier, "on their way" meant they might get to me by the end of the day after stopping at several more locations to make deliveries, so I was skeptical.  However, 15 minutes later the delivery man did show up.

Yes, I said "man".  One man.  The other had to stay at the store.  He appealed to my sympathies by telling me he was going to have to unload 12 bags of pellets and 32 bales of grass all by himself.  Even though I paid for the delivery service, I took pity on him and helped the best I could.  I carried a few 80 lb bags of pellets from the truck to the shed, but had to stop because I could feel myself forming an umbilical hernia.  I've had hernia surgeries in the past.  One was after pregnancy.  My muscles couldn't hold up the weight of two bodies, I guess.  Even though it's a simple outpatient surgery, it was one of the most painful surgeries I've ever had, and it took six months for the pain to subside.

So, I started loading bags into the wagon and wheeling them to the shed so that I wouldn't have to carry them as far.  When we got to the bales of hay, the best I could do was drag some bales with a hook, but in the time it took me to drag one bale, the guy could carry two bales so I just went into the house to get him some ice water.

The guy saw how hard I was struggling to haul all that weight, and he asked how I managed to move bags and bales by myself in the past.  I said that my husband helps me move stuff in the evenings and on the weekends.  I do carry bags of pellets by myself sometimes, but it's usually just one or two bags at a time and not in bulk.

I asked my usual nosy question about where this batch of hay came from, and he said it was from California.  That explains why it is so much easier to handle, and why my horses are gaining weight.  It's the local stuff that is worthless.  Local hay may as well be used as confetti, the way it falls apart and blows away the second you pick up a slice.

It was unfortunate for both of us that the other employee called in sick.  It's a known fact that more people call in sick on Mondays than any other day of the week, so I will have to be careful to avoid Monday deliveries in the future.  I think the guy was hoping for a tip, but I was disappointed that I had to help.  The whole point of ordering a delivery is so that I don't have to injure myself lifting heavy stuff.  I also was annoyed that I didn't get to do what I had planned to do during the day because I was stuck at home waiting for a late delivery.

Do you tip your hay delivery men?  In my case, I'm paying a fee for the delivery, so between the high cost of hay and the delivery charges and taxes, giving out tips would be financially painful.  It's hard forfeiting half a paycheck for barely enough feed to last a couple of months.  On the other hand, I might get better service if I gave out tips and the delivery men remembered me.  I did ask this guy not to break my wooden pallets, and he was kind enough to ask how I wanted the hay to be stacked.  I told him that I mainly just wanted it stacked solid so that when I climb on top of the bales, they won't come tumbling down.  He did a good job, so I'm thinking that if he comes back next time with a helper, I might give out tips.

Obviously, it wasn't his fault that he needed help, so I didn't mean it as a punishment to not tip him, but you have to look at both points of view.  While he went above and beyond to stack such a huge order for one customer mostly by himself, the customer shouldn't have had to participate since a delivery fee was paid, and the fee was a lot more than just the cost of gas, but included the cost of labor.  Not to mention that ultimately, the customer did not get what she paid for, which was an early morning delivery in which she should not have had to do any work.  Also, one of my bags of pellets had a hole in it and a bunch pellets fell out.  He did say he checked for holes and put one bag back that had a hole in it, but he missed that one.  I had to wonder how many pellets spilled onto the street as he drove over.  To me, that's like dumping the contents of my wallet out the window of a moving vehicle.

That leads me to my next question:  If you do tip your hay delivery men, do you do it with every delivery or do you only do it on holidays or do you only do it when they get everything right?

I did offer to tip one hay delivery man who did not charge me any delivery fee, despite him coming a long distance, but he would not accept anything, so I tricked him into accepting a few years worth of tips by taking him and his wife out to dinner at an expensive restaurant.  On the other hand, I never tipped my regular hay farmer back in Nevada, because he not only charged a ridiculous delivery fee to drive three miles and lower a squeeze into my yard with mechanical arms, but he added in taxes after including taxes in the price of the hay for so many years, and he kept raising the price of his hay to the tune of about a dollar per year.

8 comments:

TeresaA said...

horse ownership is not for the faint of heart or faint of body.

Glad that you got it all done. I would view your help as the 'tip'.

Venom said...

Huge load...?
Pardon me for chuckling at that a bit Nuz, hehe, I am thinking about what WE call a huge load.

We are lucky enough to have the space to store it, so between hay ($4.25/bale) & straw ($2/bale) we buy between 5-600 small squares a year.
The flat deck trailer will carry about 150 bales max, so that is 3-4 round trips each year.

Travel time is an hour each way, each trip.

We do all the loading, offloading, and stacking ourselves.
Sometimes our son comes out to lend a hand, sometimes it's just us, other times my husband goes it all alone (he does the scheduling so when it falls that way, he owns it).

One full load including travel time takes 4-5 hours so it's 2 trips a day for 2 days in a row. We eat breakfast & lunch while we drive, and we pick up take-out for dinner as we pass through town on the way home.

Boy howdy, are we ever sweaty, hungry, and tired by the end of the first day. By the end of day#2 whoever is not driving (me) is probably napping.

I am always completely bagged and good for nothing much for a couple of days after hauling.
Hubby falls asleep as soon as he stops moving on hauling days.
I kid you not, the man sheds his outer layer of clothes before coming in the house at night, eats a light supper standing beside the table, showers, and falls straight into bed by 9pm. The next day he is bright as a daisy; I don't know how he does it.

I guess you could say I tip him, such as it is... heheheh

I also buy about twelve 50lb bags of low starch pellets ($21/bag) over a winter, ten 40lb bags of loose minerals ($13/bag) for individual stall feeding during winter, 2 mineral tubs ($45/tub) for sharing over a summer, & about ten 40lb bags of stall dry ($14/bag).

Factoring in the cost of gas here (over the past year fluctuating between .80 to $1.37 per litre (roughly 4 litres to an imperial gallon)....
Then subtracting the little income we make for selling large round bales of good horse hay (that we'd use for our own if we had the machinery to make small squares)...
I'd say that our small band of horses is costing us roughly $2300-2500/year out of pocket.

I'd say you can't put a price on horsey happiness, but don't tell my husband. :-)

Cut-N-Jump said...

While I am buying in smaller amounts now than I was before (20 bales a week for a while there) and I am feeding pellets and hay, one or the other per feeding, I do sorta tip the hay guy. I haul it myself and occasionally load the hay, but always have to unload it myself.

I get a good deal on the hay and they hold it for me if need be so in turn I make them goodies to eat. The work that goes into making the treats is appreciated as they devour them.

Same goes for my mechanic. He treats me well and my truck is in good hands, so I bring treats in for the guys in the shop. When I appreciate their work, I find a way to let them now it!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Venom - Where do you live? Our bales of Bermuda are around $15.50 a bale.

CNJ - Ah yes, goodies. Those are almost better than cash. I've been baking a lot more than usual, so I'm always sharing with whoever happens to come by the house. I should always keep some hand for tips. Good idea.

Ian H said...

Ah, yes, I remember it well. Field picking 300 bales at 60 pounds, loading the half ton with 35 bales per load. I couldn't do it now, but it was kind of fun when I was younger and in shape!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Of course, I realize that most people load, transport, and unload their own hay, so the question about tipping doesn't pertain to them. Where I used to live, it didn't make sense to do that, because I had a local farmer who could just scoop up an entire squeeze onto his truck, drive it over, and deposit it with the push of a button. That saved everyone's backs.

Here, things are different. My hay barn was not build wide enough to accommodate a squeeze loader. I have a trailer that would allow me to transport more hay than just with the flatbed of my truck, but not many places close to where I live have room for me to maneuver that long trailer around in their parking lots, so I either pick up a small load with just my truck, or I order a flatbed delivery, which requires people to lift each bale to load and unload it.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

"built" -- not "build".

achieve1dream said...

I've never had hay delivered so I don't know about the tipping. We feed round bales and go get them ourselves. Sorry I can't help.

I'm shocked how much hay is there. Our Bermuda square bales are $7 at the feed store and $3 or $4 if we pick them up out of the field ourselves.

They charge tax on hay?? I thought tax couldn't be charged on anything that is fed to livestock... maybe that's not true in Arizona?

I'm glad you got the hay and I hope you didn't hurt yourself with the hernia. You shouldn't feel bad for tipping. You didn't get the service you paid for and you did help... that's what I would have done too. :)