Out of Hay!

I am out of hay again. For the past two days I’ve had to borrow hay from the school to feed my animals. This makes me crazy.

My kind, charming, sadly unreliable hay man, Rick, was going to be here with a load last weekend. Then during the week. Then Friday. Then — “for sure” — yesterday. Last night he emailed that he would be here today.

This has been our pattern for two years. It is an intolerable situation, but one it seems I need to tolerate.

Very little hay is grown in these wooded, rocky High Peaks. All of my hay is trucked from farms within a one-hour radius, most of it from the Lake Champlain valley.

The drought of last spring and summer singed the hay crop in this area. Most first-cut hay was stalky and over-mature. Second-cut barely grew. In the shortage, the price of all hay jumped. Rick raised his price by a quarter a bale but he is still fifty cents cheaper than most other suppliers.

Still, at one point last summer, frustrated, I decided my peace of mind had to have a value. I called the big hay supplier used by the school. Unfortunately in the shortage he was scrambling to cover his old customers and could not take on anyone new. Finally I ordered a trial load of 75 bales from another small farmer. His delivery of this order proved as unpredictable as Rick’s, and when at last it arrived, it was inedible. The timothy hay had been cut so late it was all stalks, no leaves. It looked like straw and the seed heads shattered on contact.

My hungry animals would not touch it. They all lost weight. I was losing my mind.

(Meanwhile my hayloft floor was covered with drifts of timothy seed. My clothes were coated with it. Once DH looked at me, completely speckled from head to toe, and exclaimed, “Wow, talk about a hayseed!” When she came home from camp, Lucy spent an hour dropping the bales around the back pasture for me to use as expensive mulch.)

So it was back to Rick again.

Rick is well-intentioned and very kind. He lets me send checks on payday, no matter when he delivers. But hay is a sideline for him — in real life he is a fuel delivery driver — and he is so busy he can rarely keep his extravagant promises. For years now he has been telling me, “I’m gonna borrow a big trailer, bring you 200 bales at a time!” “I’m comin’ back every week this fall!” “We’re gonna fill up this hayloft before the snow flies!” Instead he appears erratically with a pick-up load of 40 bales, generally when I’m starting to sweat.

It has been snowing for two days and once again my hayloft is bare.

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2 Responses to Out of Hay!

  1. Missy says:

    Oh Selden, I really feel for you. Not having hay in the shed is like not having food in the fridge.

    I’m such a lazy hay buyer – it’s always on my last bale that I am forced into action – I call up my hay guy who’s only a few kms down the road and head down for a car or trailer load. I’ve only been caught out a few times and had to wait overnight, but that was bad enough for me. Last winter he was totally out of lucerne due to the floods we had early in the year so I had to feed the cows pretty ordinary grass hay all winter. Midnight, the princess cow, balked at first, but then came good. Thankfully now he’s got lucerne and rye grass hay again and the cows are putting on weight. And because I stuck with his hay all winter, I’m now his ‘prize customer’ and he always saves me some hay, which is very good news to a lazy hay buyer!

    I hope Rick comes good soon.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Hi Missy! Long ago, when Joe was my hay man, I could be similarly casual about my stock of hay in the barn. Joe would drive from an hour away and arrive with a 125-bale load thirty minutes BEFORE our scheduled unloading hour. I miss those days!

      Rick did finally come yesterday afternoon, thank goodness, with a pick-up load of 42 bales. He spoke again about “bringin’ a big trailer” and “fillin’ up the hayloft” before I am buried by winter storms. I told him that if I had advance warning, I would try to get Alex, the teenaged boy I often hire, to help unload and stack the bales.
      “Why would you want to do that?”
      “Well, so it would go faster.”
      “You and me don’t want it faster — this here is our QUALITY TIME!”
      I may not have mentioned that Rick is the biggest flirt in five counties. LOL

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