We have been looking for our homestead for quite a few years, and the search had grown tiresome and frustrating. It was always a Goldilocks scenario - this one too big, that one too small, another too expensive - none were 'just right'! About two years ago, we found a nice 5 acre place that had a footing already in place and the guy had put down floor joists and plywood. Health issues ensued and he was trying to get out of it. We took a run at it and just couldn't quite get there. The cumulative effect of no success led us to stop and give it a rest for a while. After a few weeks, we decided to just go out for a drive in the country. NOT looking for anything. So, at that point, you know what has to happen...we find a "perfect place". Well, actually in about and hour and a half we drove by 3 perfect places. Go figure.
One of them was a little bit more 'perfect' than the others, so we made an offer, they accepted, and we ended up with a nice flat 20 acres. More on that 'flat' later. This is about hay! (Someone remind me to revisit 'flat' sometime soon.)
The place had cattle for many years, which was good that it got some manure back onto the land, but bad because the cattle guy baled at least once and sometimes twice a year - most of which left the property. No organic matter going back to the land. Bad news. So I left it fallow for that first year and just brush hogged a couple times to let the grass recover. There is some good bermuda and fescue pasture, but it turns out there is a LOT of native tall grass prairie grass growing there, too!! The original bison food for millions of years!!
The second year, I brush hogged once in June, then decided would bale it since our 5 year drought had broken and the grass was doing VERY well. Found a guy to bale it for me, and he cut about 16 acres of it. The other 4 is being 'groomed' for all things growing and building - house, barn, workshop, garden beds, orchard, vineyard, etc.
Based on what my neighbors were getting for hay, I was gonna be thrilled with 30 to 40 of the large round bales that are popular in this country. About 2 bales per acre. Depending on who does the baling, they can be from 4 ft diameter to 6 ft or more. At 6 ft, they should be 1,500 lbs, maybe more. Since I have to pay the baler, I put a stop limit to halt when it got to about 50 bales, but I new it would never get there. And I wanted 5 ft bales for handling fewer numbers. We agreed that if it was going over 50 for some reason - which it would not - he would call and we would talk.
So, he was baling while I was out of town for the week. He called and told me he was at 45. I was surprised. Even more when I asked how much more there was and he said he wasn't at the half way point yet, and if I wanted to think about selling them to him, that would be good but he wanted 6 ft bales. I said go ahead and let me think about the extra money. He finished the next morning and called me to say there were 45 5ft bales. And 54 6ft bales..Ouch! I paid him and kept them all !! About 6 bales per acre - the power of organic matter!!
Now - what am I gonna do with 99 bales!!?? Create a new song, maybe...? "99 bales of hay on the ground....99 bales of hay...take one down, roll it around, 98 bales of hay on the ground..."
Our goal is to use lots of hay, manure, food scraps, etc to make a LOT of compost for about 3 acres of market garden beds. Well, we got lots of hay now... Next question is how to manage it? I am too old and frail to roll around 1,500 lbs of hay that has a flat side on the bottom where it has been sitting for a year! I need an implement!!
Which finally, after all this, gets us to the point of this. I am almost done making a round hay bale unroller! These posts will try to document the process. It isn't a new idea - I have seen many variations on the theme and found one I can manage, doesn't cost too much, and even my very casual welding skills should be able to accomplish! Bear in mind - I don't make pretty welds at all, in fact they are downright ugly, but they are so 'overdone' that they don't break. That's good enough for me.
Now I just need to figure out how to link to a picture...
Cut, then weld at about 45 degree angle. Drilled a couple of 3/4" holes 18" from other end of pipe, using a tractor pin to pin together. Welded about 2 feet of chain to the ends - actually messed that up, had to cut it in the middle, add 3 more feet with couplers to adjust the needed length - long enough so the spikes at the other end go around the bale.
The remaining 18" or so of pipe forms the spike and the axle holder.
Welded the spikes to the end of the arms. Not pretty, but strong. I drilled some holes in the spike tube to weld the axle on the inside of the pipe. The axle was just 3' of 3/4" rod, cut in half, with a tractor pin hole drilled in the end. Positioned it inside the spike pipe to the depth needed for the wheel to slide on and be pinned. Used large washers on each side of the wheel hub for spacers. Cheap wheel barrow style wheel with grease fitting and ball bearing sleeve.
Photobucket is crashing on me big time tonight, so will try again later.
Next comes spreader bar, cleaning, painting, and some field testing.
I use a tractor with a brush hog attached now just because that is what I have. I hope this works...it's grainy due to compression to get it to fit. And it is running at 2X speed - I was driving slower to keep it from falling apart.
Stuart helped me straighten out posting pictures and I have that working well. I tried to put a video here of the thing unrolling but haven't figured that one out yet. Will put it on when I can. In the meantime, will just put some pics up.
First thing to be mulched is a short line of grapevines about 100 ft long. Unroller is reversed, and has started unwrapping a few feet of hay. The plastic wrap was cut and is removed after the bale is moved.
100 ft later. Left the remaining bale at the end of the row - can finish using a small riding mower that is more maneuverable for the space available.
Have not had the chance to try it yet - other stuff gets in the way. Will cover the garden beds for fall.
Same day as the unrolling test, I was experimenting with a tarp covered with hay as a sun block and water exclusion method. The idea is to kill all the plants in area under the tarp. Wooden stakes were used to tie it all down. While driving a couple dozen stakes, the hammer slipped a few times, tapping the thumb holding the stake. Hard enough to break the third bone.
Gonna do things a little differently next time...
The Med center Dr was not happy with me, but being the muley, pig-headed, Okie that I am - and really needing to not have a cast, I am using a brace. Works ok, but definitely have to be very careful about what I do with that hand. Mostly left handed, so it's fine. I have a new appreciation for that old saying about "busy as a one armed paper hanger..."
This isn't very detailed either, but if anyone has questions about details, I will try to answer.
Though I've sworn off such things, I have a favorite spot to whack my left thumb that looks to be the mirror image of your spot . I've done the cast thing a couple of times and they are a PITA so I agree with your choice of the splint as long as you are careful to let things heal.
I'm looking forward to the video--and a lesson how to post same. Jack
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viewtopic.php?f=27&t=2404 This link will take you to the how to embed videos, here. You can use either Vimeo or Youtube.
After looking around some, I am currently inclined to go with smugmug. They seem to be fairly straightforward to use. Does anyone have any input? Comments, etc about either smugmug or another pay photo site, either good or bad ?? I appreciate any input you all may feel inclined to give!
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