This evening started with a phone call at about 4:00. "Melody," he said, "it's Chris. I have some hay for you. Do you still want it?"
Hay has been hard to come by this winter. What we do get is terrible; the last batch looked like straw. For those of you without animals relying on you for food, hay and straw are not the same things. Hay is dried grass. It has stems, seeds and leaves; the fewer stems, the better. Straw is stems of different grasses; we usually get wheat straw, sometimes oat. There are no leaves or seeds on good straw. Straw is for bedding; hay is for feeding. In the past, we've paid $2.50-2.75 for a bale (about 50#) of hay; this year, it's running around $5. The weather last year just made for a crummy hay harvest, and we're paying for it, literally.
We were down to about 7 bales of hay; that translates to about 4-4 1/2 days of food for our critters. We knew where to find local hay, but were really hoping for some "imported" hay; imported from somewhere that had better "hay" weather this summer. This hay is from Wisconsin, up near Green Bay. Chris had to drive 380 miles to find it. But it was good, green hay, with lots of seeds and leaves, along with a decent amount of stems. Our horses and goats will enjoy it. Maybe I'll give the stemmy stuff to the chickens. They don't usually mind.
So we drove over to Chris's, loaded 100 bales of hay, give or take, and came home. Then we had to unload it. John hadn't arrived home until 6, and the loading at Chris's took a while. It was dark, and we are expecting rain tonight. Unloading hay in the dark is really no fun. Even in the summer, when the dark is later and warmer, unloading in the dark is no fun. Add in ice and snow, and it's not really something you wanna do! Because the snow here is sugary, soft and slippery, we couldn't drive to the barn. We had already gotten the truck stuck on the driveway when we hooked up the trailer. So we just plain knew better than to try it. We used John's handcart to haul 3 bales at a time; Ethan followed with a bale in each hand. Mary and I stacked, until she went in to clean up the supper dishes. Only one handcart-load fell over into the snow, and, in general, the unloading event was...uneventful. There is a full hay tent in our yard, so our critters needn't fear starvation. They might eat a little later tomorrow morning, though. I think I'll sleep in!