I like small square hay bales. Husband and the boys use the tractor, and put out 2 or 3 large round bales at a time, usually enough to last a week. Then I am on my own through the week. I don't use the tractor.
I like small square bales because they are easy to manage- handy for a single person to toss over the fence when we are out of hay. Unfortunately, they are harder to find in these parts (a lot of work goes into picking up and storing all those bales), cost more, and are more complicated to store.
And then the goats, who never stay where they belong, get into them and make a mess. Or it snows, (it always snows), and they freeze into solid lumps- turning convenience into a waste of money, time and energy.
Last year we didn't buy any small square bales. Husband and the boys worked harder making sure there was always enough hay in the pasture. And if there wasn't- I worried all day until they got home, expecting angry cows to break out and high tail it to the neighbour's.
Sometime through the winter, I watched War Time Farm (again). This episode, where they attempt to create silage from sugar beet tops, which the cows ransack, and then try creating silage from nettles and weeds made me ponder. I did some reading on silage, and found this video. Well that's certainly easier than building a silo!
We often rake mom's yard after cutting, because her grass gets so thick and long, it's almost like mowing a hay field. I thought to myself that I might experiment with the excess that the critters don't eat right away.
Winter passed, spring arrived in all of its glory, garden went in, fencing began... It was on the back burner.
And then, as I weeded yesterday, I thought, why not? The birds aren't even eating a 5 gallon pail of weeds this year (there aren't so many of them), and the cows don't need the weeds right now, since they're still working on mowing down the yard.
On closer examination, I decided the cat food bags were suitable, more plasticy and air tight. I gathered a bunch, along with some string, and went back to the garden.
It takes about 2.5 buckets, or 12.5 gallons of weeds to fill one feed bag.
Mom called, with weeds to be picked up from her place. We ended up with four feed bags stuffed with weeds in just one day. Since it involves so little extra work (bagging and tying), and may be a huge cost saver this winter, I plan to continue. I mean, what's the worst that can happen? I might have to compost it next spring. Well worth the effort in my books.
For now we're storing them in the old coop, until the cows finish in the side yard so I can clean out the hay lean-to and fence it off to keep the critters out when they're back in that yard later in the summer.