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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Storing a Bit of Winter Cow Feed

This past week has been one of those that just flew by.  I worked in the hay fields every day until the kids got off the school bus and then we went to work with the 4-H projects. Nothing really eventful happened this week, which is a good thing when you are working a lot of hours.

Since we had such a mild winter, all the crops that grow over the winter and in the early spring are maturing earlier than normal (wheat and cool season grasses).  We started putting up our fescue hay this week. 

Grass is the highest in nutrient value when it is very young.  It slowly loses value as it gets bigger, but if you cut the hay really little you won’t get much.  You have to decide when the right balance of quality versus quantity is right for you. 


We use a disc mower to mow our hay.  


The fescue variety that we put up this week is probably very similar to the fescue you have in your yard.


The hay laid in the field until it has cured and is dry.  If you bale hay too wet, it can mold or even worse the moisture can cause excessive heating and catch the hay on fire.  This year there has been a large amount of grass which takes longer to dry thoroughly.



After the hay has dried enough, we rake the hay into a windrow.  We usually pull 2 mower passes together to make a “windrow” for the baler to pick up. Sorry, I didn't get a picture of the hay raking.  I was on a tractor without a cab and forgot to take the camera with me.  I will try to get one this week.




The baler then comes along and bales up the hay.

 
The farmer tested the moisture with a probe to make sure it was dry enough.


We actually got most of the hay baled and in the barn before it rain a little last night.  Letting hay get wet actually causes you to lose a lot of the nutrient value of the hay.  We try to watch the weather forecast very closely and try to guess when how quickly the hay will dry. The crops really could have used more rain, but the forecast isn't very promising.  It does look good to get hay put up and the wheat harvest started, though.  Guess we will have to continue to pray for rain.

 
The Farmer had planted some soybeans last week and is one of them starting to come out of the ground.


The wheat continues to get riper by the day, although the rain may have slowed its progress a little bit.


Our oldest son loves animals and really likes to show his 4-H projects.  This farm mom didn’t mind taking a day off to take him to a Spring Show to get a little practice.  This show was one that anyone could go to and had kids from many area counties.

He showed his Bucket Calf named Frosty and did very well.  The Bucket Calf show is more on the knowledge the 4-H member knows about their calf and not so much how good the calf is or how well they show the calf.  He really likes to learn all the information and won first place with Frosty!  So proud of him-especially since he beat girls 3 years older than him!

 
He also showed his heifer.  I really didn’t think he was big enough to show a big calf yet, but he kept insisting all last year.  He has really proved me wrong.  He can handle her amazingly well, anticipates her moves and is getting better at showing every week.  He even asks to work with her during the week and not just at shows.  We also took the lambs and he learned we still have a lot of work to do before the county fair.  This Kansas Farm Mom loves watching kids work with livestock and I do mean work.  These kids have to anticipate what the calves are going to do, have to stay calm when things don’t go their way and have to get out of bed way before their friends do on a Saturday morning and for the most part they do it with a smile on their face!  Even when doing something fun, these kids learn a lot about work ethic. -A Kansas Farm Mom