Haymaking 2014 – Making Bales

It has all been very busy the last couple of weeks, hence no posts for a while. Hay making continues on Mari Jones, all using racks now because of the unsettled weather.

We carried the hand bale press into the field two weeks ago. It is good to bale up a bit of the hay as it makes it more saleable. We were also interested to see how long it takes to bale up hay versus loose stacking it.

Hand haybaler, stack of bales and Warre beehive in the background

Hand haybaler, stack of bales and Warre beehive in the background

The bale press was made using instructions similar to this. Caring for God’s Acre have also made this video of one in action.

We will never take to baling all of our hay. There is simply no need to bale that which we use ourselves and there is no doubt that stacking it loose is much quicker.

A little hay bale den!

A little hay bale den!

The advantage of the bales are that they are easier to move, take up a bit less space then the equivalent amount of loose hay and are much more convenient to sell then loose hay. Although baling by hand is slower, it is quick enough that I imagine we will find it worth our while to do some each year.

We are also baling up some of the less good quality hay such as that from the top of racks into bales. These will be used in the composting pee toilet that we are in the process of building for use during camps and events. The idea being that urine is collected in the bales which can then be taken away and left to turn into fantastic compost. I’ll try and post a picture when it is complete.

Another reason for the lack of posts lately is that my daughter and I left the boys to look after the farm for six days while we had a summer adventure. We took our tandem (especially built by St John Street Cycles to fit an adult and a child) on the train to Bristol. We stayed for a night with friends then cycled home, camping on the way. It was great fun and we were incredibly lucky with the weather – the rain mostly fell at night. Here we are crossing back into Wales via the Severn Bridge.

2 thoughts on “Haymaking 2014 – Making Bales

  1. You have taught me a lot about haymaking by hand and the hand baler is great, I’m keen to make one ready for next year. I am very curious as to how you cart your loose hay and how you handle it once in the shed. My storage is 10ft above the floor so bales may be a better option rather than loose. I have a vague recollection of a hand operated hoist for loose hay but it’s from many years ago and I can’t recall the details, it did seem much better than using a pitchfork. For this winter I have bought bales but plan to try making a bit of late hay using drying racks as you suggest. I’ll let you know what happens, keep up the good work. Oh, and any information or suggestions, on clearing thistles without using chemicals would be useful

    1. Hi Warwick,

      Hopefully my latest post will have answered some of your questions regarding carting. The majority of the hay is stored loose in two stacks in our barn. The base is pallets to keep the hay off the ground and prevent moisture wicking in.

      We also have a platform which sounds similar to yours, about 10 feet up. We occasionally use it for storing excess hay and, as you suggest, the most convenient way we have found for doing this so far is to bale the hay so it can be carried up more easily. It also allows the bales to be fitted around the myriad other items stored up in the loft, including all our hay racks when they are “off duty”.

      A lot of hay was traditionally stored in lofts and I guess that getting it there was a two man job minimum, with one person pitching the hay up and a second throwing it further back and stacking it. However, I have little direct experience nor have I seen any of the various hay lifts or conveyors in action.

      Good luck with the racks, also with the thistles. We are lucky not to have too many and merely keep the odd patch of creeping thistle in check by scything them down before they flower.

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