It's been the day from hell.
We ran out of hay after this morning's feeding. Remember all that hay we put up last summer? It's gone.
This isn't unexpected, actually. Last year we were buying hay by March, so the fact that we were able to make it through most of April this year isn't bad.
We knew we knew we were running low on hay, but we also faced a Catch-22: the farmer who had the best price for hay wouldn't sell on days when it was sunny, because he was working on sunny days (makes sense, can't blame him), so we had to wait for a rainy day.
This is all we have left in the barn. The bales you see are bales of wind grass (also called cheat grass), an invasive species the cows won't touch. It's nutritionally useless and (apparently) bad-tasting. When the farmer baled our neighbor's land last year, he baled what was there... including some wind grass (it's not like you can pick and choose what to bale, after all). So -- since we can't use this for food, we'll save it for bedding.
Today was rainy. Rainy, cold, and nasty. (So much for our 80F days!) It was a day to get hay.
So Don and I borrowed a trailer from a neighbor and took off...
...and got as far as a turnoff from the highway about twenty minutes from home when the truck overheated. Dangerously so. Crud.
There we sat on the side of the road, listening to the rain pounding down on the truck roof, waiting for the temperature to regulate to we could make it into the nearest town (about ten miles away).
We limped into town, keeping an eagle eye on the engine temperature, and parked in an awkward spot (remember, we had a trailer) while Don added coolant and we waited for the engine to cool. Is it the thermostat or is it the water pump? Hopefully the problem is the former and not the latter, since a water pump costs a fortune to replace (and must be done by a mechanic), whereas a new thermostat costs about $9 and Don can replace that himself.
Anyway, our appointed time to meet the farmer came and went, so we called and explained our situation and said we'd try again later to get hay. When the truck's temperature went down, we turned around and drove home verrrrry carefully, watching the gauge the whole time.
Once we reached home, Don called another neighbor and offered to pay him if he could pick up some hay for us. But this neighbor (who works for the highway department) had been fighting the weather all day, was just getting off work, and was exhausted.
So Don called yet another neighbor and asked to borrow her truck to hitch up to the trailer to go fetch some hay. She freely offered the use of her truck but warned him that it, too, was not in ideal shape, since it was making funny noises...
Meanwhile the rain was pelting down so hard it was making bubbles in the puddles.
So off Don went with the borrowed vehicles. While he was gone, I marshaled the girls to help me straighten up the barn.
We stacked all the dross bales in a corner to be used for bedding...
We raked up all the lose hay in a pile, also to be used for bedding (we could also use this for feeding in a pinch, though it's not the greatest stuff)...
...and gathered the hundreds of lengths of haybale twine that we chucked in piles over the winter...
...into a neat pile.
So while the rain poured and the wind blew, we waited for Don to return with hay. Meanwhile we now had a wide place to put it.
When he got back with two bales on the trailer, we realized we had no way to get the durn things off the trailer and into the barn. (The bales weigh about 700 lbs. each.)
So we had to chain them up one at a time...
...and use a (borrowed) tractor to drag them off the trailer.
Then Don pushed the bale toward the barn...
...then scooted the tractor around so I could chain it up for him to pull in.
We repeated this procedure with the second bale. It was a whole lotta work for two flippin' bales of hay. And the frustrating thing is, we bought another 15 bales we somehow have to get from there to here. Groan.
Borrow borrow borrow. It seems that's all we did all day long. A process that should have taken two hours ended up taking seven hours and necessitated the use of other peoples’ possessions. And a whole day was shot.
With small bales, we can move them around ourselves. But most farmers understandably prefer to bale in large bales, which means using equipment to move them around, equipment we don’t own and can’t afford.
Meanwhile our internet service (which is normally fairly speedy) was running so slow this evening that each photo in this blog post took about ten or fifteen minutes to load. A blog post that should have taken about ten minutes to put up ended up taking ninety.
Sorry to gripe, it's just been one of those days, a day filled with petty annoyances and major inconveniences and lots of hassle. One of those days when we just want to collapse with a glass of wine in the evening and be thankful we have so many lovely and generous friends who entrust us with their vehicles and equipment.
Haven’t we all had days like this? Okay, I’ll feel better tomorrow, honest.
Country living. Not always what it's cracked up to be.