Saturday, 21 January 2017

The hay adventure

These two, Lissie and Milly
And this one, the recently artificially inseminated ( by the bull On Time)
these three were the reason we were off out yesterday with trailer attached to the van,
the destination being a farm somewhere in the French countryside,
the instructions having been given over the phone,
and all in French of course,
which meant that it was going to be miracle if we found the farm at all.
We did.
The road dirt track to the barns was steeply downhill though,
oh dear, muddy and slidey, that is what the track was like,
easy to go down though,
just put the brakes on and let the car and trailer slide down to the bottom if necessary,
sort of like a mini ski slope.
But not to worry, this possible eventuality did not happen,
and at the barns we arrived, still intact, and under full mechanical control.
So why were we having this adventure?
We were on a recce to find someone who would sell us some hay,
our own stocks having become depleted to almost nothing.
With no local hay available, having been all sold out due to the weeks and weeks of cold weather. heavy frosts, and brilliant blue skies,
our field
Buying hay, that is what we were doing,
because we have none, it is all gone, eaten by the cows and the sheep,
because there is hardly any grazing out on the fields for them.
And visits to our two local suppliers were of no help in the search for hay,
because they have none to sell because of the exceptionally cold winter we are having.
So at this farmer we arrived,
and there he was, waiting in front of his sheep barn, with eight small bales of hay,
which is all he could spare.
They will only feed the cows for a couple of days, though,.
but not to worry,
at least we had found some hay to keep them going.
Hay paid for,
handshakes all round ( farmer's are friendly people here)
and up the muddy track we headed.
With a bit of sliding from side to side,
and the van moaning about having to make the effort,
and me shutting my eyes and hoping we made it up to the road OK without falling into the ditches on either side of the track, 
we arrived safe at the road.
Then homewards.
Hungry cows, but sheep OK.
Unloaded the trailer,
Untied a couple of the small bales
gave one each to the adult cows.
Wouldn't eat it.
Which did not seem very generous of them seeing as how we had made such an effort to find some hay for them.

 ...and this is the hay, looking all ruffled up because the two rottweiller girls have spent the day sleeping on it, because we had to go and buy hay from a different farmer, hay which we hoped would be more acceptable to the palate of those three cows.

...and here we are back home again. Two bales were on the trailer, the first has been wiggled off by Lester an inch at a time (it was at the wrong height for the big tractor to lift off so it had to be done manually) and he is just getting this one off. This was our second trip of the day, having already bought two bales from the farmer this morning. 
Now, ....where to put them..... oh here will do....

....we can still get through the front door, but the four bales do rather spoil the effect of the pots of lavender round the new front door, ........
But not to worry, these bales should hopefully last until the middle to end of February, when we shall have to hunt out another supply, but by then the grass should have hopefully started growing again.
Bye for now,


minwks said...

Hi Vera, Puzzled. Why would they not eat it? Is this usual?

Cro Magnon said...

With most of my neighbours giving up their cows, I imagine there'll soon be a surfeit of hay around here. I'm dreading the day when it becomes like Surrey, with all fields filled with horses.

I see you have some Olive trees. I do hope you'll lead us through the preservation process when the time comes! 2017 will be my first harvest.

rusty duck said...

I hope Lissie et al were more appreciative this time. Picky eaters huh?

Vera said...

MINWKS, Fussy, that's what our cows are...... but there is some Lucerne in the hay so that might have put them off eating the hay.

CRO MAGNON, quite a few horses starting to appear around here too, but we still have some large herds of cattle so hopefully the hay will keep being produced. As for processing olives, I would give it a go if we got any olives off those trees, which we haven't so far...... just a few here and there, that's all.

RUSTY DUCK, well they are managing to eat the hay in the small bales because we won't give them any other hay until those bales are gone!

Denise said...

So pretty, those cows. Ungrateful, but pretty!

Dawn McHugh said...

We bought in our hay in the Autumn thank goodness as the prices are now on the rise around here, the goats need it every day, the Alpacas started winter with hay but now they are in the back fields that is knee high in grass and weeds they have stopped eating hay although they have it in there racks.

Vera said...

DENISE, they are gorgeous ladies, our cows!

DAWN, we should have had enough hay to see us through, and there should have been enough locally available if we needed extra, but the farmer who supplies us is ill at the moment, plus we have had weeks and weeks of cold, frosty weather which has knocked back the grazing on our fields and everyone else who has animals so demand for hay has been excessively high this year. But we have had blue skies and very warm sunshine during the day which makes up for a lot of irritation about the very cold nights!

My Life in the Charente said...

Fussy cattle well I never. I wonder what hay it is that they turn their noses up at it. Sliding with a trailer is no fun, they should have taken into account the trouble you went to to get it for them :-) Hope all is well stay well Diane

Vera said...

DIANE, our cows are a little on the spoilt side, I think! But then there is only three of them, and Lester does cosset them because they give so much back to the farm!

DUTA said...

The weather affects both humans and animals. I know there are food banks, seed banks and all kinds of 'banks" in case of bad climate and natural disasters, but I don't know how it works. I hope there'll always be enough food, and that we don't ever need these banks.

Mama Pea said...

Glad to hear you now have enough hay to see you through. We've never had a cow but our goats could be mighty persnickity when there was a change in the source of their hay. Our horses would eat about any hay, not nearly as fussy as the goats. The horses (bless their hearts) didn't require the "leafy" stuff that the goats did.

Your cows certainly are beauties!

Vera said...

DUTA, I am not sure of how these 'banks' work either!

MAMA PEA, when we had our goats we found them picky as well, seeming to prefer to eat everything they shouldn't eat and not eat what they should!

Kerry said...

I didn't appreciate that one hay could taste different from another, so much so the cows wouldn't eat it :)

Vera said...

KERRY, ..... the cows are divas, that's all!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

That is an adventure! If you lived here I would say come on over. We cut Hay each summer off our pastures. We sell it and feed our horses and use any leftovers in the garden. We do square bales though.

Old School said...

I enjoy reading about your place. Years ago we dreamed about buying a dilapidated villa in rural France, but we ended up with an old six-classroom school in rural Washington state. A much easier route! since we don't need to learn another language, and our roof is mostly intact. But less charming – your place is lovely, and with such a sense of history. And it's not been "remuddled" by previous owners. And it's inspiring to read about folks of our certain age tackling this hard work. Everything takes longer when you are creaky! Su