Woodland Creek Soay Rams

Woodland Creek Soay Rams
Soay Sheep Ram Assortment

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Putting up hay with Farmall Cub and Cub-22 mower

Now that I had the Cub and the sickle mower in apparently working condition, on the 4th of July I undertook mowing a 3-acre field of very tall grass. This field is several miles from our place, and is actually a vacant field next to (and owned by) a bank. Each year prior they paid someone to mow and leave the hay. This year I volunteered to mow it in order to cure it properly and carry it away (loose - I have no baler).
First I had to borrow a flatbed utility trailer from friendly and helpful neighbors up the road. I did get the Cub loaded successfully.

The trip up the hill to the field was un-eventful, and the mower worked very well for me, although it was slow going given the height of the grass (often it was as tall as the Cub - maybe 5 feet tall).

In all it took about 5 hours to knock down all the grass, and only 2 or 3 times did I find surprises in the grass (stumps, deep ruts, big rocks, etc.) but no damage to equipment in any encounter. I did have several mechanical failures on the mower, but each was field-repaired to keep it running. I was very pleased with the way the mower laid down the tall grass and rarely clogged.
Here's the overview at the end of the day.

The hay dried completely over the next day, but when I went to rake and pick it up, I discovered that I had waited too long to cut it - most of the field the grass was so coarse, with so little green, that I was certain the sheep would not eat it. I ended up harvesting perhaps 1/3 of what I had cut - but my committment to the bank was to cut as much as I could anyway, as their objective was simply to clean up the appearance and reduce fire risk.
Here's the nice little stack of hay I harvested from that plot.

At 10 feet wide by 15 feet long by average 8 feet high the pile is 1,200 cubic feet. I estimate the packing density to be about half what it would for a bale of hay. If a typical small bale is about 10 cubic feet, then I harvested about 60 bales equivalent, so not bad for a couple days work. That will save me a fair bit on hay costs this winter!

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