Fourth Interlude

hay is, in fact, for horses

One of my long-term goals for the 18 acres we’re on is to plant about half of it with hay and bale our own hay. This may or may not happen (I have a friend who currently bales their own hay with a lot more help than Nate and I will probably have and they warn me that it is a ton of work and might not be worth it), but whether the hay field does or does not happen it won’t be for a while and in the meantime Leeloo and company will need to eat which means I need to find me some hay!

When I first decided we were doing this I called the owner of the barn Leeloo is currently at to give her a heads up, (she has been very patient about our ever moving move-out date; we’ll be out by July 1, no July 15, okay Aug 1, okay by the end of Aug?!?!?) she mentioned that sometimes when the first hay crop comes in, people who kept more hay over the winter than they needed may be selling last year’s hay for cheap to make room for this years hay. I started watching Craigslist for hay, and I attempted to watch Facebook Marketplace, but Facebook kept showing me hay for sale in all sorts of other states like, Texas or North Carolina, what the heck Facebook?! I did find many a person selling hay for decent prices, but the biggest challenge was figuring out delivery. We still do not have a truck and will not get one until after the barn is built (need barn > need truck). I did find someone selling last year’s hay for cheap and they had delivered in the past, but they were leery about delivering to someone they didn’t know because they had had a bad experience with that. They invited me to come out and look at the hay before either of us decided. It was okay hay, more roughage than nutrition, but I was okay with that. Hay can be a hot button topic for some horse owners. After many different experiences with Leeloo and her health and doing a lot of reading on the topic we are planning on 24/7 access to hay and hay from a variety of sources and grass species, no alfalfa though. This might not be what is best for your animals – which is totally fine – this is just what I have found works best for Leeloo. This cheap hay from last year would fulfil the “something to munch on to keep them from getting bored without getting fat” requirement. Diet hay if you will. They sent me home with a bale to see if Leeloo would eat it since some horse, like people, do not want to eat your stupid diet food. She didn’t love it, but she did eat it, slowly. I called them back and said I’d take whatever they had left and we worked out a delivery deal.

While I was having this back and forth with that person one of our horse neighbors stopped by to ask about our new shelters. We are very lucky to have several different neighbors nearby who have horses, or ponies, or donkeys, or elk; it was one of the reasons I was so excited about being able to live where we do! While they were here, we got to talking about hay and how I was having a hard time finding any that would deliver and not having a truck was making that super challenging. Not two days later I get a call from them, their hay guy had accidently loaded more bales on his truck than they had ordered, would I want the extras? I went over to check it out and it was some of the best hay I have ever seen (I may not have had to buy hay for my horses yet, but I have boarded at a LOT of barns, so I have seen a LOT of hay) so I said “absolutely yes!” They were super awesome and not only brought it over but helped unload and stack it. Turns out meeting your neighbors is totally worth it. Note: Nate and I suck at meeting new people, we lived at our previous house for 13 years and never met a single neighbor in that entire time, so meeting our neighbors here has pushed us out of our normal comfort zone but has been totally worth it, we really have some of the best neighbors! Back to the hay – this hay is some really nice hay, like, really nice hay, but that means it can’t be fed free choice or I will have super fat animals, which isn’t good for anybody. So I still need more roughage, or diet hay if you will, back to Craigslist. I did find some more lower nutritional value roughage type hay near-ish to us but they didn’t deliver so we had to arrange another option which turned out to be a lot more work and money than anticipated, also their hay was not baled well and about 10 bales split open while we were unloading which was very frustrating.  Overall though I am happy with the hay options we have to start with; we have hay from three different places, at three different price points, and at three different levels of nutritional value. I’m excited for when we finally get Leeloo and company home to see how my theory of feeding works in reality. We will however need more hay yet to get through the winter and I still need a place to store it. That third hay shelter has still not been built; we’ve been using the “barn” shelter to store the hay we have so far. I need to get building!

The good stuff!

The diet hay.

For any of you who have seen me in-person recently you may be wondering how I have been doing so much outdoor labor and yet maintaining my pasty, fish-belly white, complexion. The secret is wide brimmed hats and UPF clothing. Also note the threat-level socks, the higher a tick is found the higher the threat.

The problem is that the UPF shirts love the hay so much they hold on to every little piece; and they don’t just hold it on the outside, they let it poke through to the inside. I had kind of forgotten, since it has been a while since I have had a lot of up-close and personal time with hay, that my skin hates hay. HATES IT. Any and every place even the tiniest bit of hay made contact with my skin it turned red, rashy, and itchy. It is the worst! Definitely need a different shirt option to wear when dealing with hay – I’m thinking denim, other suggestions?