Monday, September 10, 2012

Taste Test

When I arrived at the homestead yesterday, there was an ominous warning:
 Rubber Chickens Beware!
Now that September is here, it is time to address two of the big fall chores, hay and wood. We got the Hay House finished two years ago, and are just finishing up the hay we bought last year. So it is time to fill it up again.

First, we have to decide what to buy. In the Willamette Valley here in NW Oregon, we have a couple different ways to go. There is local hay that was cut this summer, and Eastern Oregon hay. According to Phoebe, my hay expert, the Eastern Oregon feed is the best. They have long, warm, dry, consistent summers and are able to cut and bale it at the peak of its nutritious, delicious cycle.

The local stuff is subject to the same conditions that are causing our tomatoes to still be green. We had a long cool spring, which delayed the start of summer.

Eastern goes for about $300 a ton, local for $130. So, if we can find 5 or 6 tons of good local hay, the savings really adds up.

We are shopping a little late in the season this year, so there were not a lot of options on Craigslist. But there were two that sounded promising, a Timothy and what the seller called Pasture Mix. Since I can't really tell good hay from bad, I bought a bale of each and took them up to the experts.
We fed them a leaf of each and watched to see which they preferred. The verdict was mixed. They ate both, and went back and forth between them rather than eating one before the other. That was a good sign. We are going to feed them both for a few days to see if they develop a stronger opinion with a little more exposure.

This may mean that we can make them happy with the local hay again this winter. That makes me happy because, in addition to costing less, it supports my local farmers and requires much less energy to get it from the field to the barn. (With the Eastern hay, I can get it from a feed store a few miles from here, so it is just as close as the local, but it was trucked 100+ miles to get here.)

Once the horses give us a verdict, we will start filling the barn. It looks like it will be dry here for another week or two, so I have a nice window in which to move it. Lets see if I actually get it done before the rain.


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