Yes, there comes a time when feeding hay becomes a necessity. Periods of drought are the typical periods most people can easily think of when it comes to feeding hay. But, sometimes the weather swings in such a manner that the economics of feeding hay during the green season makes sense also.
Whether it's seasonal or for holding animals for longer periods of time in certain areas, hay feeding is a fact of the farming life. At this time in our area of Central Florida most hay farmers are looking at the reality of a fourth hay cut this year. This weekend our county is looking down the barrel of a possible tropical storm or hurricane. Ummm, lots of rain either way.
These conditions mean that moving our herd into a holding area and feeding some hay while we let the rest of the farm's forage rest and stockpile is a sensible decision. This means we can let the areas we seeded last year mature a bit more before moving the herd across them. It also means we can let the browsed woods soak up all that impending moisture and put a bit more leaf on. Goat farming with heavy browse calls for much different management than grass pasture management. With hay farmers looking at the reality of a fourth hay cut this before Thanksgiving, grass is plentiful and prices are falling. Economics 101; supply and demand Importing plentiful grass from off-site sources while letting our browse rest and stockpile seems to be the right call at the present time.
Again, this is all good news for us at Must Bee Kiddin' Farm while the reality of tropical storm activity has hay farmers shaking their heads. Most of the hay barns are bursting at the seams with second cut hay, whole third cut hay lots still sit in the fields with no available cover. Now, all those round hay bales are getting wet with rain. Those rounds were horse hay, but since being kissed by rain are now cow hay.
So, what's all this mean? Well, horse hay sells for $60 per roll and cow hay, $35. Yep, our goaties like their fair share of hay. At current prices...what my goaties want, my goaties get. Who needs Vegas when you're a farmer!?!
Yep, sure enough 2014 just flew by and the new year just rolled right in with what seemed to be a blink of the eye. Before we let 2014 get small in the rear view mirror here's the latest tour of the property's west line as it stood on the last workday of the year. Of course the video shows the state of the west line but I'll also bullet point the main items outlined and discussed.
More central drive clearing and the establishment of the first trail into the property. The plan is to establish connector trails that lead from the central driveway and link to each of the property borders. The north connector trail is the first of these inroads.
While a little late, this video will show you the beginning of our driveway progress. This enabled us to park in the center of the land, off the road on our own property. It was the beginning of the "fridge trail" and "south line link trail" making easier access to the entire property.
The next line we worked on getting preliminarily cleared was the west line. This was a lot easier than the north line, by far. Enjoy the tour!
This video shows the north border of our property after preliminary clearing. The short-term goal was to establish a safe and quick way to get from the front of the property to the back of the property. This was the first area we worked on. We just need to tidy up a little more, then it will be ready for fence posts to be set.
There is something special about using hand tools. Sure it would be easier and quicker to rent the equipment or hire the workers to clear the land, but what fun would that be? In just one day using only hand tools we were able to clear away a path about 4 foot wide and 200 feet long. We are both extremely pleased with that.
It is an exercise not only in clearing the fence row, but in access. The property is thick with scrubby underbrush which makes maneuvering through it very difficult. The exercise in clearing the land is also one that will enable us to learn about our land. We will learn where the live oak stands are, where the trees we need to remove are, and where the bumps and depressions are. We can decide where we want to put meadows, gardens, and our home site.
Yesterday we hacked and sawed and machete'd our way along the North boundary. Today will be much of the same. It's not easy, but strangely satisfying. The quote by Robert Frost: "The only way out is through" kept creeping into my mind to keep up the momentum. I love the feeling of accomplishment I am already feeling from just a mere 200 feet of open space. Only 400 feet to the pin!
In 2014 a couple of 40-somethings decided to make a change. The purchase of 10 raw, pine scrub acres along Florida's Nature Coast started it all. This is that story.