Sunday, June 14, 2009

First Crop Hay

Our first crop of haylage was safely put in our silo and the unloader put down last Friday. The quality of first crop haylage can make or break milk production. It was crucial this year that we put in something close to "rocket fuel" because we need all the milk the girls can make.

Kurt is cutting the itty, bitty little field to the north of our house. This field is not shaped like a square so when he went around once he turned around by the the shed and came back the other way. I guess it is easier.

We dug up a hay field that was needing to be reseeded this week and planted corn. So Kurt only has one regular square field of hay to cut and two irregulars. We might have a fourth one that is square to cut if there is third or fourth crop of hay. It is seeded down with our oats. So we will harvest our oats anywhere from mid-July to early-August. Then hopefully the alfalfa we planted will come back for this years crop otherwise it should be ready for next year.

This field has more grass than alfalfa. When we chop the hay we chop a little of this field then go chop the field behind the barn that has more alfalfa so is mixed. There was some other reason but I forgot. Kurt told me of course, but he tells me a lot through out each day.

This is the hay head to our chopper. The roller on the bottom rolls the hay up and in with the help of the auger and it goes through a series of sharp knives that chop the hay.

The curved part on the chopper shoots the hay into the chopper box or wagon-whatever you want to call it. Kurt's dad likes to chop. I tried it once when I was first dating Kurt. We were in the triange shaped field and you have move the spout with little switches in the tractor when you are not going in a straight line. Since the wagon is following and if you do not, you will miss the chopper box. I think I went maybe 50 to 80 feet and proclaimed that is was going way too fast for me. Maybe next year I'd be willing to chop. The triange field will be corn so I won't have to worry about that beast.

This is Kurt unloading the wagon. An opening on the side feeds haylage via an auger and apron on the bottom of the wagon to the blower. The blower is ran by a PTO which stands for power take off. You can see the end of the PTO which is the white piece that is in the middle far right of the picture. It is a bar that is about six feet long that spins when the PTO in the tractor is engaged. It is very, VERY dangerous to be around. Loose clothing could easily become entangled. People have had limbs ripped off, etc. It is something you take extra care around to be as cautious as possible. The PTO is attached to a tractor that is in park but running with the throttle wide open. It is very loud. The wagon Kurt is unloading is also ran by a PTO to unload the wagon which is hooked up to another tractor. The throttle is turned on as high as the tractor that is running the blower.

Here is close up of the haylage going in the blower which is an auger that is running very fast to feed the haylage to the blower part that send it vertical up the silo pipe and down into the silo. Our silo is only 50 feet. The average haylage silo around our farm is about 70 to 80 feet. There are 100 feet silos which are huge. Kurt would like to have a 20 foot (which is the diameter) by 80 foot haylage silo if we had double the cows. Our haylage silo is 16' x 50'. Back to the blower. This a very dangerous piece of machinery when running. That is all I am going to say the horror/true stories are awful to think or tell. Anything can happen on a farm and thankfully we had a safe first crop harvest.

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