I grew up working in the hay fields at home on our 1,300 acre farm at Endless Caverns in New Market, Va. I always loved being out in the hay fields. The fresh cut hay always smelled so good, the rhythmic sound of the machines, and of course, hay can only be made ‘when the sun shines!’
That farm was sold many years ago. Though memories still linger, most especially in springtime here in the valley when hay making is in full swing. In this time of year barns are full of the fresh hay of this past season. A barn full of new hay is a sweet smell indeed. Folks have come into our little barn and remarked about how good it smells! We do not have enough land to make our own. It must be purchased.
Our barn is small, so we have to go often to restock our supply from our man in West Virginia. He has beautiful hay, and has been our supplier for many years. Our horses are in good care with the quality of his hay. I am a hay hog, or so I have been told. I do not feed our big horses grain, but I do feed them lots of good hay. On cold, blustery nights and days, hay is a far better feed for the horses. It keeps them warmer longer than grain. On bitter winter days, I have ‘hayed’ them three times during the day. There is such a thing as horses getting what we call a ‘hay belly’, but I have found that is mostly because of poor quality over quantity.
Most hay is now baled in big rounds. Ours come in square bales. We prefer it that way. It is more work on our part as we must tend to the animals morning and evening. However, there is not as much waste. Horses are picky eaters. Ours lick up their daily supply! I also like to shake it out on the ground for them to check for weeds, and, believe it or not, I have actually found a baled, dead field mouse in one bale. Yikes! It happens occasionally.
Time is nearing for another hay run!