We always make an effort to be as self sufficient as possible by gardening/canning, raising chickens, and growing hay for our goat. Today it was time to cut the hay … so here is the process. We have a relatively small plot for alfalfa but it produces very well. Here is the plot ready to cut.
This time of the year it grows fairly slow and only requires cutting every 6-8 weeks but in the heat of the summer we typically cut every 3-4 weeks.
To cut it we use a special sickle cutter which slices off the alfalfa close to the ground.
Here is a view of the business end of the cutter…got to keep the fingers and toes away from this thing!
After cutting we let the hay lay in place to dry. In the summer it only takes a few hours to dry (remember we are in the desert and 115 deg days are not unusual) but in the winter it may take a day or so.
Once the initial drying is complete we rake it into rows for more drying. The rows need to be rotated a couple times to complete the drying process. The desire is to dry it enough so it doesn't rot (or spontaneously catch fire) when stored but not so dry that the leaves fall off.
When it’s dry enough it’s ready for storage. Notice the difference in color in the fresh hay on the left and the purchased hay on the right!
Of course this is the part the Buster likes the best….Umm, umm, good!