Bill and Juanita, owners of Allenspark Lodge B&B, are living their dream...

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hay-L's Bales

We had decided to try large hay bales this spring; I thought of it as being nice to Bill, so he wouldn't have to feed the crew twice a day while I was on the mend.  We were delighted to find that our normal hay person had actually baled up some decent 1500# bales, right from the field where our guys were grazing at the end of their board time.  She kept three of them for us and hauled the rest off to the sale barns.

Come hay day, we take our flatbed truck and GunDiva meets us with RCC's flatbed trailer, so we can pick up all three bales at once.  This part of the planning went great, especially since Ida used their backhoe to load them all up.  OK, one small glitch.  Bill had wanted two bales on the trailer, end to end, thinking we could park the trailer in the corral, tarp one bale and he could build a sort of feeder thing around the trailer to protect the bales from being destroyed by our crew of five.  The bales were too long to fit on the trailer that way; they had to be put on side by side, with just a little hang over.  Figured we could come up with something when we got home.  We were just glad to get it all done in one trip.

GunDiva got her load in the corral in good shape, unhooked her truck and headed home.   Bill and I tarped the bales in the wind, trying not to get blown away whenever the wind grabbed the tarp from us.  We left the one bale on the truck and tarped it there, just as the snow started to fly.  We had a week until the horses were to come home, so no problem to wait out the storm.

The bales before the horses got to it!
Fast forward to the next Thursday, day before horse pickup.  Oops.  There is that 1500# of hay on the back of the know, the one with the hitch for the gooseneck trailer?  So we headed out to the corral with the truck and Bill had already figured out how to get it off the truck and it sounded really simple.  (We don't own a bobcat or anything of the sort and you can't just lift or shove that size bale!)  We do have a nice tree in the corral, in a good location with a flat spot close by, so the idea was to back the truck up to the tree, lay out some pallets to keep the hay off the ground, hook a line up from the hay to the tree and drive out from under the hay.  Now, remember the snow storm?  Yeah.  Had to back over the flattened out manure pile from last year, now covered with six inches of melting snow.  Very slippery.  Fortunately, with a lot of luck and prayers, 4 wheel drive and major slipping, the truck did finally end up backed up to the tree, in a good position.  Just barely enough room under the truck to slide the pallets (in the mud).  Hooked up the tow rope and Bill drove forward.  OK, so he had to go traction, so instead of the truck slipping smoothly out from under the bale,  the bale ended up sliding slowly down to the ground and tipping end over end.  We had to was slow motion!  We moved the pallets to the side of the bale, Bill moved the truck around so we could hook up the tow rope to the bale and it did nicely tip right onto the pallets, actually in a nicer, flatter spot than we had picked out.  Got it tarped and felt pretty proud of ourselves.
Not one to do anything part way, Jesse is certainly showing no fear.  I really wouldn't be surprised to find her almost completely inside that tarp one of these days, just to get the good stuff at the bottom.

Next morning we load up and go after horses.  It is so great to have them home and we hope they enjoy all their great bale at a time.  Yeah, right!!!!  When Bill went out later to check, my grays had already taken the straps off the pretty single bale and chewed holes in the tarp, for their very own feed bags. 

Jesse on the left, Washoe on the right
Hey, we are trying to be neat, here!
The rest, not to be outdone, had worked over the open bale on the trailer, spilling a great deal on the ground.  We had expected this, but not quite so soon.  So the two of us go out with hay forks, tidy up the trailer hay, retarp the single bale, and fill the feeder with excess hay from the ground, in hopes that they will use the feeder instead of the nicely tarped bales.

Well, several days have gone by now and many iterations of hay and tarp fixing have taken place.  GunDiva has helped when she is here; the neighbor helps when she sees us out there (one horse is hers), and I am getting LOTS of therapy on uneven ground in the wind (did I mention that I am still supposed to only walk on smooth, flat surfaces?).  GunDiva did comment that she thought the whole idea of the big bales was to make feeding much easier for this spring.  Well, feeding is easier.  Cleanup has taken on a whole new perspective.  We are getting it figured out and I am thoroughly enjoying the time with the horses.  Today, while waiting on guests to arrive, I went over for hay duty.  Jesse, my guardian, kept everyone away from me as she stood guard at the hay mound in the center of the corral, now on the ground and surrounded on three sides by metal panels...except about 1/4 of the hay is no longer inside the panels.  Enter:  hay fork.  My afternoon exercise.

The horses moved one bale completely off the trailer, so we moved the trailer away from that bale, tarped the trailer ..again... and thought they might leave it alone. 

That back corner in the lower left:  Eli sticks his nose in there, then very neatly cleans up the trailer when he is done.  He's currently napping, with a full tummy.

Estes - OK, three happy horses.
Nope, neighbor horse has claimed that hay.  Estes, GunDiva's horse, has claimed the single tarped bale, Washoe gets the feeder, and Jesse and Ranger seem to get the pile in the panels...or mostly anyway. 

Ranger posing by his stack, still fairly neat after yesterday's cleaning.
There is always something new to learn with horses, but they seem to be quite happy and it is costing us about half what small bales do.  We'll have to think this over.

Anybody want to buy some nice, new tarps complete with assorted large ventilation holes? (Bill)



  1. I am sitting here chuckling at Jesse in amazement... WOW, just WOW!

    My horse... will shy away from the plastic bag that her baby carrots come in. You do know that tarps kill arabs on a regular basis, right? They eat them right up. Even if sometimes they choose it do it THREE years after they start stalking the horse. (Cuz that's how long I've had my girl, and that's how long she's given the stink eye to the same piece of tarp).

    But to chew holes and stick heads in 'em... I am sufficiently impressed :)

  2. Oh, that's funny. Horses are so good about getting to food. They all look very, very happy! You better watch yourself though, Missy! No walking on uneven ground!

  3. Ok Juanita, I have you on this one...

    My quads food comes in a 5 gallon container. No need to tarp and it will leave it alone quite nicely...

    just saying... LOL

  4. It's a process to figure out the best way to feed big bales. I'm used to the big rounds and I can roll or drag those things anywhere with my pickup-LOL. The big squares are a different story. Unless you have something to pick them up with, wherever you dump them off is where they stay.

    It's very polite of the horses to have picked their own bales and piles though. ;-) LOL

  5. Still cracking up at this post all over again... your horses are fearless! So did you decide to stick with this feeding plan?


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