Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Equipment Category › Draft Animal Drawn Equipment Buyer’s Guide › Farming Equipment › Minimal equipment for haying on a hill?
- September 7, 2013 at 7:49 am #80992
Hi, it’s been a long time, but I finally have my land!
A fellow with a tractor does the haying on my flat land, but above and below the hay field there is very hilly or tree filled land he can’t get into. I have a BCS 732 with
45″ sickle bar which does ok at mowing those areas, with fence trimming done via scythe, but I’m failing at trying to rake and fork the hay by hand. It just takes too long to get it all in when the time is right. I’ve so far mostly hayed for weed control, practice and for garden mulch, because the result doesn’t look good enough to bother putting in the mow when I already have enough first harvest hay for my needs, and expect a cart of second harvest bales to show up at my barn door before winter.
I’d eventually like to have oxen, but that isn’t happening right now, so far I have the BCS, a pickup, a draft dog, and my own arms. (The draft dog can haul about 1/4 of a pickup truck load at a time, but she can get into wet areas the truck can’t go.)
I’ve got a little bit of money coming in in a month or so, I’ve love to get some tools that I can haul behind the truck and later use with oxen on the grade.
My number #1 priority is a hay wagon. Even if I do none of my own haying, I can ask the tractor fellow to harvest directly into my wagon and put a tarp over it for additional hay storage. If I can’t get the wagon into the hills, I can at least park it at the bottom, and use the draft dog over shorter distance and take larger loads back to the barn/stack.
I’m not sure if a side delivery rake or hay ladder will be real useful on the hills? Experience/suggestions? I will eventually need them when I take over haying my own land from the tractor guy, but equipment I can only use on the flat can wait until after I have oxen pulling my wagon.
I’m currently reading “Haying With Horses” by Lynn Miller, which has a lot of good info about loose hay even if you’re not using horses to produce it. I’ll likely outgrow my hay mow and need to start stacking hay some day. I don’t see a point in baling for myself, and I’d like to get out of the business of selling hay for tractor services. (I at least need to talk to the baler about coming back and spreading manure after haying instead of always taking nutrients off of my land.)
Any thoughts you have on haying slopes or tight spaces whether equipment related or not would be appreciated.September 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm #80997
I hand mow spots like you are describing and feed green to supplement pasture for six horses. I mow each morning only what I can feed that forenoon. I transport it in a double wheel wheelbarrow and feed directly.
I gave up putting up my own hay quite awhile ago. I find it more cost effective to buy in nutrients for my pasture in the form of hay from someone else’s fields.September 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm #80998
Unless you need hay from those areas, you might never need to hay them. You could just work those areas that are too steep to hay with grazing. just a thought. Not really sure what “too steep” to hay is.September 7, 2013 at 8:11 pm #81007
We just hayed a hilltop/side that is way too steep to rake into windrows or even if one could how to pick it up. We hand pulled/raked it into piles and hauled the baler to the piles on the small less steep places and got almost 80 bales off less than a quarter acre. It worked great. We will definitely do that again. Getting the bales down – some in the truck that pulled the baler and some on the scoot with one horse. The bales store better in the small spaces that farm has for shelter- though we did put in some hay loose earlier. This beats that for time and effort and ease as well. I mowed with a team, mostly cutting across and down the slope as it is so steep going up. There were are few ledges I had to go around, but it worked well. JaySeptember 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm #81008
Eventually I’ll have those areas fenced in, and buy my winter hay, but not yet. Currently I have only one acre fenced. I need to cut the weeds to recondition the pasture, and I may as well use the hay instead of letting it choke out the new growth. Also with rotational grazing it’s occasionally necessary to hay the pasture when plant growth peaks to save for slower months.September 8, 2013 at 4:10 am #81009
Denise, mowing and leaving it should not choke out new growth, and it does feed the soil. It is a very real component of our rotational pasture/hay land processes.
Especially if you are not getting other nutrients on the land such as manure, this weedy mowed growth could be more valuable left in place to feed the soil.
I know that doesn’t answer the question about which equipment to use, but I have found that effective use of draft animals, or other low investment motive power, is to be creative about how you use the power, and using natural systems to work for you, like plant/soil relationships, is key.
CarlSeptember 8, 2013 at 7:33 am #81012
I must be doing it wrong then. Attached is a picture of a small section I mowed but did not rake. The hay parts for the little tractor, and leaves a mat on each side in it’s wake. You do a parallel pass and the mat from one row gets entangled with the mat from the previous row. If this is left to sit, the grass comes back well in the part in the middle of each row, but there are these heavy mulch stripes left behind.
The current pastures have some nitrogen burned spots from where the former alpaca occupants made their poop piles. The mulch is being used to good effect there, I’m hoping making compost piles there will restore that soil over time. There are some impressive growth rings around these bare spots.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.September 8, 2013 at 10:58 am #81017
Simplicity or a similar two-wheel tractor company made a small dump rake that went behind a sulky. Simplicity also had a heavy wire frame bowed over their sickle bar that helped contain the mowed grass within the the path of the outer shoes.September 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm #81019
I don’t see two wheeled tractors or implements for them on Simplicity’s site. The largest selection of implements I know of for two wheeled tractors is Earth Tools, They have a side delivery rake, but it is front mounted, not sulky mounted, so it wouldn’t convert to later draft use. I’m not aware of any sulky for the tractor that has an implement hitch. There is an implement hitch on the tractor itself, but the implement needs to have a seat far enough forward to reach the tractor controlls.
I guess I need to decide if it’s worth having a side delivery rake that I’ll replace later. I’ll certianly keep an eye out for a used one, but it’s not an implement I’ve seen advertised before with used BCS packages.September 8, 2013 at 7:45 pm #81029
Yeah, Simplicity no longer makes two-wheel tractors and implements.
I was trying to say that the concept of haying with two-wheel tractor implements has solid precedent. I was also suggesting that if you looked at one of those old Simplicity mowers you might see a way to adapt yours to prevent those mats of hay.September 8, 2013 at 8:21 pm #81031
From your picture and description I wonder if cutting the growth when younger – not as tall would make a difference/easier? So the new growth would have an easier time coming up through… Just a thought. JaySeptember 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm #81034
The barnyard gets cut about once a month, and we still get some matting there, but not nearly as bad. Maybe I need to intentionally plant something that is vulnerable to excessive leaf shatter when hayed. 🙂September 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm #81045
Flail mower will run a bit more than a side delivery rake but will definitely aid more in mulching in weeds than the rake will. I’m currently using all the mulch I rake up, but I could probably get the hay guy to leave me a cart of less favorable hay down by the garden while the hay contract lasts.
*still pondering* At this rate the house sale won’t complete until snowfall, so I guess I have until spring to consider what solution I’m going with.
Looking forward to getting out of the haying contract, but I need it for now.November 14, 2013 at 10:08 am #81595
When I was in Maine we had a number of pasture sections what were steep and a bit rocky. We used a small one horse mower (4 ft bar) on these areas. We also used a tractor mounted sickle bar for some of the flatter sections. And, we used a big string trimmer to knock back the grass and weeds in the really challenging areas, in addition to grazing them throughout the season. Many people laugh at the notion of weed wacking pasture ground, but I really think that tool can be useful is used in the right areas and the right time of the year, particularly then it comes to weed control. As others said here, I have never had an issue with mowing down grass and leaving it to feed the soil. That is a great strategy to enhance soil fertility, but you do have to do it when the growth is not too tall. Also, a tractor or horse drawn bush hog works well on steep ground, though you have to make sure you are driving perpendicular to the line of slop, rather than across it. I tipped our tractor over withe sickle bar, and though it was a terrifying experience, I was not injured nor was the machinery damaged (I had a seat bolt on and the ROPS saved me).
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