Look at this picture:
This picture makes me happy. Why? What is it?
It's my hay field. As you can see, there are many tire tracks through it. The grass and clover are very short. We finally had hay cut on Saturday morning. Technically, our second cutting for the year, since it had last been cut in early June. Saturday was September 29th, which is very late for hay. In a normal year, you'd be getting a fourth cutting on such a late date, if you were lucky. Late September is a tough time to get hay to dry. Not only are the nights cool, but the days are too. Fog is not uncommon in the mornings, and rain twice a week is pretty much a given.
But 2012 has not been a normal year. Rain has been so scarce, it took over three months for my hay field to grow enough to be deemed worth the time and fuel to cut and bale it a second time. Meanwhile, winter is coming, hay is scarce around here, and crappy hay is going for about four dollars a bale. Second cutting grass averages $8 a bale. And, since we didn't know in June what was coming our way in terms of non-hay compatible weather the rest of the summer, since we were swamped with three softball championship games the week our hay was down in June, we kept only what I normally feed of first cutting in a year. We chose to sell the rest of our first cutting right out of the field because we didn't have time to put it in the barn if we wanted to watch DD1 play in those championship softball games, the last ones of her high school career.
Which meant, for the past two months, I've been stressing over not having a second cutting of hay in the barn. Not having enough hay to get three horses through until next June, when I can expect a first cutting again. Looking at the ever decreasing local hay supply, looking at the rising hay costs, and stressing. Stressing.
Yesterday, my hay field was baled. The hay dried in three days. The weather held, in fact, not only did it stay mostly sunny, it was warm and breezy. Great hay drying weather. The bales look great. The bales smell great. The bales feel great; despite being a good six weeks 'overdue', these second cutting bales have the texture of good second cutting bales from a non-drought year.
And, best of all, there were more of them than we estimated when we decided to cut the field on Saturday. Fifty percent more. Now, since we were estimating to only get 50 bales, a fifty percent increase isn't giving us an astronomical amount of hay. But, it was enough. A magic number. 75 bales of second cutting should be enough. It should get me through until next summer's hay season without having to purchase any hay.
75 bales on hay on a wagon on October first is a beautiful sight. I'm so happy!