Thursday, January 24, 2008

Yes, we have no bananas today

At the beginning of hay season, which was earlier than usual and harder than usual since no one had much hay or basically any pasture because of the drought (a word that does not conjure to mind the absolute horror that it was), I had husband call my usual hay supplier to inquire, would there be hay available from him. He assured me, through husband (this being Appalachian culture where man to man is a better way of dealing with some things -- man to man in this case being better because I would have cut this man’s balls off years ago although I don’t exactly dislike him) that as long as he had hay, I would have hay.

He operates on a totally industrial paradigm, raising cattle for the feedlots by the hundreds, and growing his own hay and corn for it. His hay business is a little side, almost like moonshine, because it is all small scale and in cash. I estimated that we could get by well on six bales. He thought they’d have that.

We got one. One. He asked us to be conservative with that and we were. I imagine that other people were not. At any rate, by the time we called to go get our second bale, which had my original estimate been correct should have been our fourth bale (that’s just how conservative we’d been), he wasn’t selling any at any price. Oh, hay is available. I can get for only $140 a smaller bale of worse hay than I got for $35 last year. Someone is selling square bales for $8 a bale. That should be $2.50. That’s gouging. That’s capitalism I guess. It certainly isn’t caring for one’s neighbor. Then again, I have had a lot of kindness shown toward me already and that is one reason I was just now calling him for my second bale.

To his credit, my hay guy, who didn’t gouge me but just ran out of hay, has his own cattle on half rations. That’s how tight it is. And my animals won’t starve. They may get skinnier. We’ve got to fence some more. We managed to open the January field back up again today. We’ll cut a pine tree down each day for the goats. The cow, being a Jersey, will eat some of that too.

To his debit, my hay guy had a hilariously pathetic tale of woe about his ex-girlfriend. As bummed as I am about the hay, as much as I was really counting on him to supply me, I’d rather be in my hay shoes than to be in his relationship shoes.


sugarcreekstuff said...

The cutting his balls off statement was a crack up. It seems as if EVERYTHING is costing gobs more these days. Maybe you'll luck out and find better prices and hay somewhere else. My fingers are crossed for you.

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Danielle said...

There's a similar but less dire story being told up here. I drought wasn't nearly as bad as yours down there. My mom's in Alabama, and there are large parts of the South in dire straits, I know.

I know folks here who've gone to NY state and even Canada to get the hay they need. Even with shipping, it was better hay at better prices than could be got here, especially with the bridges burned by price gouging. Lotta ill feelings it seems like.

CG said...

Kmoo, Jersey's have some tendency to browse that has been bred out of most cows. Likewise, our donkey is downright FAT despite not getting any supplemental feed -- at the beginning of winter, he ate tons of acorns and now he digs in the woods for moss and lichens and fungus, as well as eating what grass and dried leaves and whatever else there is. The goats are cribbing trees really severely, and wandering much more widely.

We figured out yesterday that the drought also burned up our fence charger -- where the ground was so dry it wasn't properly grounded even though it is properly grounded. The folks at the feed store said they were seeing a lot of that, except most people figured it out in November (grin).

No one who is actually local, or who has local hay, or who knows you, would dare ask $100 for a $35 bale of hay. The more recent arrivals are importing hay and then offering to sell it for that much. The barn I work pt at imported (from NY) an entire tractor trailer load of grass hay for $4.35/bale so that shows you the level of gouging. Which again, I don't think should be ILLEGAL, I just think it is unforgivable and those people should also loose their balls when they hit a hard time. Which they will.

Anyway, there is no local hay. Once it warms up a bit and the grass starts growing a bit, a body might get a local boy to let go of one bale which would make a huge difference to my animals. But like I said, we're ok. Couldn't do this for a lot of years running though.

I just wish people who eat, who glibly go to the store and buy, say, pineapples or other such, would realize. And organic raisins from India irritate me even more. Even holier than thou grass fed local beef irritates me. Fat people in the Wal-Mart parking lot driving better cars than me irritate me. Beans and cornbread people, and you are damn lucky to get that, and you won't be getting the 3000 calories a day it takes to maintain the obesity either. Those are my food issues.

Traci said...

You just summarized why I had to get rid of the kids' ponies this year. We have no barn, so no storage. AND not enough money to pay the prices.

CG said...

Yes, people were scrambling to get rid of livestock they couldn't keep. And those keeping were calculating if they could get by.

Teri said...

Try beet pulp for the goats. You need to soak it, but a little goes a very long way. We've been using it for a suppliment, but I think we are going to start using it to replace a bit more of their hay. They seem more content on that than they are on the hay. FYI, out here hay is running $15 for a 90lb bale of alfalfa and $16.50 for grass hay. Our feed store has had some problems keeping up with demand this year, due to a bit heavier snowfall than normal.

CG said...

I'm using beet pulp for the horse and cow (supplementing their other feed). I'm still not supplementing the goats, other than cutting pine trees (that we don't want anyway) down. Goats are nearly wild creatures with a great ability to survive and not much value. For people's info, beet pulp runs $10 for a 40# sack. Corn is up to $6.35/50# at the cheapest feed store. Horse feed is $12/50#. Beef mix is the cheapest of the lot at $11/100#.