Hay Making 2014 – the thick and the thin of it

The hay making continues to make progress across Cae Mari Jones, with Phil mowing more every morning. Last night we bought in the first of this area of hay. We have run out of space to stack more hay inside without compromising the other functions of the barn. So we are going to experiment with building an outdoor hay stack.

Here is the base, four pallets to hold the stack clear of the ground and prevent moisture entering the bottom from the earth. We have also used piles of brash effectively in the past.

Here is the growing stack. Like with the hay racks, we are aiming to create a thatch on the outside, with the hay stalks arranged downwards. As we add more hay we will be creating a rounded profile to the top, then probably covering the top with a tarpaulin “hat”.

We have also been taking down some of the racks built after the course and Social Mow. The photos below shows how there are channels through the rack to allow circulation of air through they hay.

As well as the gap through the middle….

….channels also form within the sides as the hay settles down over the horizontal bars. The hay is lovely, rather bleached on the outermost layers but beautifully dry and yellow-green on the inside.

And what about the thick and the thin of it? Well that refers to the way we row up different ages of hay overnight. When the grass is freshly mown, we row it up into lots of thin rows. At this stage it is relatively resistant to damage from moisture and the thin rows allow more surface area for drying in the morning before the hay is re-spread.

As the hay dries, it is rowed up into progressively thicker rows. The hay is much lighter so it is easier to make large rows. It is more vulnerable to damage by re-wetting so is better protected by the smaller surface area of thick rows. Also, drier hay makes good fluffy rows. If there is a breeze it can blow through the rows and aid drying.

Thick rows of almost ready hay in the foreground, thinner rows beyond.

Thick rows of almost ready hay in the foreground, thinner rows beyond.