Hay delivery of a pickup-worth of bales this morning. The price per bale: $10! I don't begrudge the farmer that got handed the check, but I do blame myself. I knew hay was scarce last fall going into winter. I knew that come spring the price would be through the roof if there were even bales available. A lot of farmers around here paid to have bales trucked in from down south, like Pennsylvania, for this reason. I was able to put aside around 250+ bales into this winter, but it wasn't enough to make it through to this haying - and every delivery went up in price till it hit this fever pitch. I am hoping this is the last delivery of this priced hay. And will do my best to put up more going into next winter. Live and learn.
The scarcity was because of a very dry summer last year. Drought conditions that didn't so much dry up the hay fields but make it very very slow for grass to grow at all. Most hay farmers were cutting their first cuttings in July - not May. And second cuttings were lucky, if at all.
I am lucky this farm's only going through about a bale and a half a day. The horses get most of that, but are also grazing on spring grass. The sheep have their pasture (just moved to a fresh section Thursday) and get their hay nets filled up a few times a week to supplement their diets as well as regular grain. but imagine if I had to feed three or four bales a day? Impossible. I simply could not afford it and by the looks of local Craigslist Ads, a lot of people are selling off stock. This is the time to get that pony or bomb-proof gelding around here. Folks simply need to sell.
This is farming. Learning to prepare as you go, even ten years in. And learning that not everyone gets to stay if circumstances change. I've been lucky to have downsized the farm a few summers back and am only feeding three sheep, two horses, and a goat with supplemental pasture and grain. Hay isn't a dealbreaker. And never in my entire farming years has hay been this expensive.
If the trends continue we will have to re evaluate things. But I'm still making a Beltane wish for a summer of gentle rains after hot and sunny mornings. I know us humans have been farming for a couple hundred generations now, but we still depend so much on the luck and whims of nature. And in a proper Pagan way - it can't hurt to ask for a kinder summer on May Day. So here's to luck, love, and prosperity in this 2021 growing season. For us, for you, for the farming folk all!