I’m sure you’ve seen this picture floating around social media.
That is so funny to me and to other farmers and ranchers. Yes, they really do look like marshmallows. What you are seeing is actually dried grass hay rolled up into a 1500-pound tight bale and wrapped with plastic wrap to protect the hay from weather conditions and moisture.
There can be different sizes of marshmallows. Little squares, big squares, small round bales and big round bales. On my farm, we prefer the big round bales.
As young farmers, we are not that technical. We just use simple twine wrapping to hold our bales.
Stocking up on hay bales for the winter is an important task of raising livestock. We bale what we can from our own property – around 100 bales. Since our livestock numbers are growing this winter, we did some simple math and decided to look for some more bales to purchase.
The number of cows we own now consume around 4 bales of hay per week in the heavy winter months. The sheep and goats will consume 1-2 bales per week during the heavy winter months. One positive unknown is that we have the rains this year have been plentiful and our pastures at home still have plenty of grass for our livestock to graze for quite a while after they return from their summer pastures next month.
I’m being optimistic and hopeful that we won’t need to start feeding hay until the first part of December. Knowing that tidbit, since we will be feeding from December to the end of March, I’m estimating we would need a total of 100 bales, which doesn’t leave much for our emergency reserve.
Lucky for us, a neighbor was selling 100 bales of brome hay at a great price. We jumped on the bandwagon and bought them all. One things you’ll learn is that farming is risky business and you have to plan your resources and keep your supplies well stacked in case something comes up.
Something always comes up.
Now, the next task is moving those bales about 15 miles home to our house where all our livestock will be housed. Our flatbed trailer holds three bales so we have just a little over 30 trips to make.
Back and Forth. Back and Forth. Back and Forth. Moving marshmallows home is a lengthy process!
Everyone is involved in the moving process. It’s a nice time to be together as a family, talk, laugh and sing. It’s better experience than it sounds.
When we arrive at the hay field with our truck and trailer, there is a tractor waiting for us. Matt’s parents only live a few miles from the hay field, so he had brought a tractor with a hay fork over from there. And it will remain there until the job is done.
Matt hops onto the tractor, fires it right up and gets to work lifting the end bales and setting them strategically on the trailer. It is an art.
Another thing about our marshmallows. Since we don’t use the wrap, they look sort of like perfectly roasted marshmallows. Not to dark or light. Just how I like them.
Well, when the three bales are loaded onto the trailer, Matt straps them on and we are off to our place to unload them. With the wind blowing through our ears.
When we arrive home, there is our tractor waiting to unload the bales. Matt hops on, fires it up and unloads those bales. He lines them up end to end. He’s getting really good at it.
And then. You guessed it. We do it all again until the darkness settles in. Until the job is done.
Right now, we are about 10 trips into our marshmallow moving journey. It’s just another part of being a responsible livestock producer and having plenty of healthy sustenance for the animals during the most extreme temperatures we will be facing later on this Winter.
What tedious task are you faced with before Winter hits?