One of the "milestones" that defines our year is getting in sufficient hay to last our livestock through the winter.
We started feeding the livestock in early September. Because we didn't have any hay left over in the barn from last winter, we bought a few small bales from a neighbor to tide us over until we could get our winter hay in.
Even while these small bales were still stacked on the truck, the hens found nesting spots among them.
In fact, when we finally offloaded the remainder of the bales from the truck, we had a disgruntled hen wondering what happened to her best laying spot.
We keep hearing rumors that we're in for a hard winter. Whether these rumors will prove true or not won't be known until next spring, of course. But meanwhile, we will follow the rule we set up for ourselves when we first moved to Idaho in 2003: to prepare as if we would be snowed in for three months at a time. While this might seem extreme, in fact this mindset served us admirably during two exceptionally harsh winters (2005/2006, and 2006/2007).
So -- time for hay. We found a screamin' good deal on bluegrass. At $60/ton, we could afford 30 tons, more than enough for our needs. A neighbor who owed us some favors agreed to transport the hay for us, six tons at a time.
We cleaned out the barn in anticipation of delivery.
This same neighbor also agreed to stack the hay in the barn. (His massive tractor can handle the weight of the bales; our tractor is juuuuust a bit too lightweight.)
First few bales.
But in the middle of things, our neighbor noticed he was missing some critical lug nuts from one of the wheels on his tractor...
...so things ground to a halt until new ones could be obtained.
But at last the barn was full.
All except one corner, which we kept clear.
This corner is reserved for a winter project, namely the building of a heavily-insulated "cool room" in which we can fit our 1500-gallon water tank.
I commented to our truck-driving neighbor the feeling of security a barn-full of hay gave me, and he instantly agreed (he has horses). "Hay and firewood," he said. "If I've got those in place, I feel set for winter."
Needless to say, the beasties agree. About the hay, that is.