If I Ran the Farm: Time to Refill the Hay Rings - Southern Ridge Farm

If I Ran the Farm: Time to Refill the Hay Rings


It’s really cold today and I’m not wearing the right kind of clothes. I opted for some insulated pants over my jeans and they don’t have pockets at all, so there’s no good place for my phone or my knife, and when I remove my gloves to cut the bale twine they have a way of scattering.

Approaching the gate loaded with my first two bales, I could see the cows were already crowding their waterer. I would try something new today. I shooed the cows out their gate and back into their pasture, drove my tractor into the watering area and closed both the gate behind me and the gate to the cows’ pasture. I would cut the twine in there where they couldn’t get to the bale yet, or me.

Once done, I reopened their gate, navigated through huge bodies, finally gained open pasture, and began my first drop. And ALL my drops were messy. I couldn’t drop the first bale evenly inside the ring, or on its end, so that the second dropped bale was perched precariously on the first one. I was terrified that one would tip over on an innocent cow during her breakfast, although if I logically applied the laws of physics to the situation I would know that was impossible. But logic and physics are not at home in my brain, so I was plagued with tipping bale thoughts for some time.

blog cows at hay ring and tractor
Goal: Drop this bale into that ring without making contact with any cows.

Somehow my new plan of removing the twine from my first bale while in the watering area foiled me. I kept forgetting to remove the twine from the second bale. Process after placing first bale in ring and dropping second bale on the ground: swing the tractor around and re-acquire the bale on the ground with the front spear, approach the target ring, get off the tractor, remove the twine, get back on, carefully approach ring while lifting the bale to correct height, get close enough to nudge the ring with the front of the tractor, and carefully drop the bale.

But somewhere between nudging the ring and dropping the bale I realized the twine was still on. In ten drops this happened several times. So I’d have to back up, insert “get off, remove, get back on” back into the process, and start over. All this while cows are milling around, waiting for their chance to nip at the new hay bale.

Always ready to taste test the new bale.
Always ready to taste test the new bale.

I thought they’d quit following me around after I filled the first one or two rings, but no. They were just as eager to try the eighth bale and the tenth bale, like maybe there would be a new flavor or something.

The baby calves did not fall for that. After my third trip with fresh hay, I passed by four of them sitting around in a circle idly watching me, a couple of them even at that young age chewing on cuds in that bored way that cows have, and they were like, “you are so 15 minutes ago.”

I feel like some kind of time warp happens in a Narnia kind of way once I turn on the tractor. Time stands still for me all the while, but once I turn the tractor off and climb down, all that time rushes back and I realize it’s four hours later.


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