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Tendonitis in my right arm seems to be on the mend, thanks to cutting out the use of all power equipment! (Especially the weed eater.) The fields are lush and green and up to the top fence board. I've never had luck getting anyone to custom hay the fields and got to thinking that it was ridiculous to waste it all. So I've been out each day for as many hours as I can spare cutting hay by hand with the scythe.

For those of you that put up loose hay: Have you found that a particular method works best? And do you find that drying time is different for loose hay versus baled? Someone posted plans for cheap drying racks made from 2 x 4s and nylon rope for quick breakdown. They pile the hay on and cover loosely with tarps against the weather. I'm thinking of trying this. The ventilation in my shed isn't adequate for hay storage. Figure you could even leave the stacks in place and uncover one by one as the animals eat through them. Any tips or suggestions or factors I might have failed to take into consideration?

NoraWI says 2017-06-02 07:06:40 (CST)

The Amish make little stacks in place and leave them there through the winter as they use them. The hay is stacked vertically with a top knot, all arranged to shed water. If you have Amish nearby, ask them for a quick tutorial.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2017-06-04 21:36:38 (CST)

In Germany I always put up hay loose and here in Missouri also for quite a while, but due to the different climate there was a huge difference. I do not know where you live to decide which method would be good for you to use. Anyway, here is is very easy, the grass gets cut and cures for a day or two, then we rake it and load it. In Bavaria, because of the lower temperatures and relatively high humidity the first day after cutting we teddered it, windrowed it a day later, windrowed it again from the other side, before it was dry enough to be brought into the barn. Even more work was necessary when the weather was uncertain or in the middle of September , when we made the third cut, because then we would hang it up on tripods with crossbars to dry, especially if it contained a lot of clover, sometimes for several weeks.
In the mountains they would hang it often on three or four wires stretched in rows from stakes to stakes.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2017-06-05 04:57:59 (CST)

I've put up loose hay on racks like you describe. We even went so far as to make a long line of these connected racks which allowed us to make a stack 40 ft long and about 12 feet wide and 12 feet high. If you can keep the tarps on them, covering is best,otherwise be very careful to build it to shed water. I've fed hay out of one of these stacks that had gone through two winters with little waste.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2017-06-05 08:41:30 (CST)

We only do loose hay at our place. I did once build a tripod as Frank Newman Turner described in one of his books (Fertility Farming I think).the clover hay was pretty green when I put it up. It worked pretty well. We got a bunch of rain but the hay still cured and the quality of the hay stayed pretty good. In the end we have a rack in the loft of the barn to dry hay that is not quite ready to stack. This works much better for us.
Here is a pretty good article on making loose hay and building tripods you may or may not have read.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

K.C. Fox says 2017-06-12 09:54:26 (CST)

we put all our hay up In big round bales and leave them outside as moisture is not a problem. what we put in the barn is in small square bales only about 500 per year. some times we don't feed all of them, I have some in the horse barn that was put up in 1976 I don't know how good it is but when you give a horse one he eats all of it. We used to put it up in 3-4 ton stacks then fed it with a pitchfork. we moved it with a underslung hay sled and tractor or 4 head of work horses or mules. at the last we had a hydfork on the sled to feed it with.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Amelia says 2017-06-24 10:04:03 (CST)

Billy Foster, what do the racks in your barn for the hay not ready to stack look like? Got a photo? How damp can it be and still dry on your racks?
Anyone putting up loose hay in Wisconsin? I was thinking about trying it but would like to see it in action.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2017-06-26 05:39:17 (CST)

I don't have any pictures. The rafters in the barn have tube fence gates sitting on top of them which gives me a place to drop the hay. There are a couple 2x12s down the center for me to walk on. Typically I use this space if there are areas of a field that are not quite dry and the rain is imminent. I will VERY loosely put about a foot of partially cured hay on all these panels.
Hope that helps

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Amelia says 2017-06-26 21:36:10 (CST)

Thanks, that's helpful!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Wanderosa says 2017-06-29 15:21:41 (CST)

Wow. That's ingenious with the tube gates, Billy! I didn't get to putting up my test windrow fast enough before the torrential rain came. My initial impression is that it may take way less time to dry to the correct moisture percentage than I anticipated. Hay that had logged 1-2 days of drying smelled sweet, retained a faint green color, and seemed to be breaking cleanly when twisted. Hay lying a little longer faded out and lost the smell that I associate with safe hay. Sort of a forehead smacking moment for me - of course hand cut windrows would dry faster than the massive ones laid out by machine. Lol! Random aside - I live down the road from the farm where the Derby winner Bodemeister was born and raised. Watching them cut hay there is incredible. The fields are so big they stretch over the horizon.

About to try again with the string of 90 degree days coming up. I'll report back.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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