Sunday, June 29, 2008

The economics of hay

I do not understand the economics of hay. I don't know how many bales you get per acre, but I've seen plenty of hayed fields and know about how far apart those finished bales lay, and it's not all that many. For all the work it takes, the specialized equipment that has to be maintained, and the hours spent driving them around that field making bales just when summer turns ridiculously hot, and then selling the bales for a few dollars a piece, it seems to me like there just cannot be that much money to be made in it.

It's hay season again. I'm glad hay is still as cheap as it is. This winter we had to buy supplemental hay for our animals at $12-$15 a bale from the feed store. Luckily there was still grass to be found out in the pasture. I can see why so many people were trying to trade their horses for hay to feed their other horses this winter! If you had a big eater, you would have gone broke! Later we were able to get a few bales from a local field for $4 a bale, and that got us through the spring, though we still picked up a bale of the really good green stuff from the feed store for Mom and her lambs.

This is our first hay season looking out for animals of our own. Prior to this we only had a friend's llamas staying on our pasture, and they went home in the winter. This year we adopted the sheep and goats, and Houdini the llama, and then bought Patrone the llama, and his friend Scoops has come to stay with us as well. So there's three llamas, four sheep (since Mom had twins), and two pygmy goats. We put away 65 bales of hay for them to tide them over this winter. If it's not enough we'll hope we can buy more of the $4 hay when we need it, or they'll be eating high on the hog with the feed store hay again! The llamas also get special grain with llama minerals in it, and the sheep and goats get a little grain to distract them from stealing the llamas food. All in all I guess it's not too much to spend for the entertainment of having them around.

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