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We are feeding square bale hay this winter. We are feeding other people’s waste hay and I am thankful for it. We store it on pallets and under tarps near one corner of the field. We feed it by taking a bale out, throwing it over the fence, then breaking it open and distributing it in at least four piles at least 20 feet apart so all the various animals can eat in relative peace. Although everyone except the horse plays musical piles. The horse stands there and eats until he is through.
If you know animals though, you know they don’t actually eat every scrap of hay (well, unless they are starving, and even then there is some waste especially when feeding outdoors). So we feed it in different locations every day. By the end of the winter, this will provide a good mulch for the whole field and will prevent a build-up of hay (and a worn out by hooves muddy mess) in one spot.
No surprise, all the easy places have been fed in already, so we are walking the hay further and further afield. No surprise, the animals all know what we are doing when we make our way to the hay, and wait for us patiently to throw it over the fence to them. That is the end of their patience. They are ready to eat and so tear into the bale.
When I am throwing the hay, I cross the fence and pick up the bale and start walking up the hill. The cow generally just gets out of the way and follows, but the queen nanny goat gets directly in front of me but generally sideways to me and tries to continue eating.
And here is what I do: I lift the bale a bit and set it on her back. Then I do my best to follow her. She carries it for me while I balance it on her back, and when we get close to a good spot, I drop it and she resumes eating.
This, I will tell you, is much easier than carrying the bale up the hill by myself while trying to push her out of the way or maneuver around her. It is a bit of a challenge, and I have to jog up the hill to keep up with her, but it is kinda fun too. At least it nearly always makes me laugh.
That little goat is my own labor saving device.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
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